Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Characters We Love: Joel from The Last of Us

Joel from The Last of Us



Joel is a powerhouse of a character, neither hero nor villain. He’s just a human amidst the apocalypse. That's all he is. He makes some very questionable choices and some very justifiable ones even as you, the player, take control to watch his progression first hand. That, of course, is one of the most compelling traits of The Last of Us. You have to play as a guy who doesn't have it all together, who’s selfish in many ways, who just wants to survive.

Before the fall of mankind, Joel was a hard-working single parent with a loving daughter named Sarah. He cared for her deeply, as you can see in the just the first few minutes of gameplay. Joel puts a roof over her head and food on the table. Even in such a short time you can tell how genuine their chemistry is because, in reality, she's all Joel really has. When things start to take a turn for the worse and a fungal disease infects most of the population, Joel does everything he can to protect his only child, but like so many others, Sarah becomes a casualty during the fall of the US. Joel loses everything. He's down to nothing.

Twenty years later, Joel is a survivor. He's alive because that's who he is. Joel works with a small group in Boston to stay ahead in the survival game. His friend Tess has given him a new life, but is he over the loss of his daughter? Everything changes when an old favor has him escorting a young girl named Ellie to a band of freedom fighters called the Fireflies. Over the course of their journey, Joel begins to see Ellie more and more as a daughter, as Sarah. He's distant at first, and tries to keep her out of his life in fear of losing someone else. But they can’t help by grow close after all their journey puts them through. She becomes his reason for staying alive. But when he discovers why she must be escorted, that she could cure the world at the cost of her own life, Joel is left with a very difficult decision. Save her, or save humanity? For the world Joel’s decision is very unheroic, but still very human. I mean, can we really blame him?

Why we love him:

1. He's very much human: he's not just a hero that can do all these different things. He's vulnerable and he doesn't always make the right decision.

2. He's tough: only when he has to be, but he's not one that I’d want to fight. The man can fight.

3. He's a softy: despite his bearish demeanor and gritty appearance, Joel has a soft squishy spot in his heart for his daughter Sarah and his newly adopted daughter, Ellie.

4. He's voiced by Troy Baker: Does this really need explanation?

By David White

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