Finally beat it tonight. Perfect length, maybe 10ish hours? It was exactly as long as it needed to be. A few thoughts, obviously major, major spoilers for anyone who hasn't beaten it.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I loved the ending. For maybe the first minute or so, I was like....that's it? I swore the ending was going to be Ellie waking up and telling Joel to stop trying to save her, and she would have voluntarily gone through with the surgery, and then you'd get the grand payoff that you saved the world, like every other game. Sure, that would have been really touching, probably a real tear jerker, I'm sure ND could have pulled it off. But....this isn't every other game. It was never about saving the world, it was always about the two of them coming together.
Neither of them would have survived without the other, and that's one of the things I loved about Ellie....she didn't need rescuing, she was as strong as he was, maybe even more so. I was expecting a half dead Joel to stumble into the burning lodge to rescue her just in time, but she had already dealt with the psycho before he got there. Not to say that he wasn't protective of her, but it was more about shielding her from losing her humanity and from having the weight of the world on her shoulders. He saw his own daughter in her, and just wanted her to be the little girl that she was when you were just walking around and everything was quiet.
So I guess that's how I saw the ending, why he lied to her face multiple times at the end. Surely some part of it was selfish, but he did what any father would do....protect his little girl. If I was in his shoes and that was my daughter, I'd have done the exact same thing. I'd never even consider for a second to even allow her to make that choice, nor would I burden her with the truth. She wasn't responsible for the apocalypse, so it's not her responsibility to sacrifice herself to *potentially* stop it. If she was immune, there will surely be others as well. Maybe she'll figure it out eventually and feel guilty, who knows....but she can make that decision for herself when she's old enough and has time to think about it.
So yeah....the whole game really delivered. A genuinely mature game, a rare beast. Kind of a watershed moment for gaming IMO. The walking dead was emotional, sure....but it was also kind of hokey. Those characters still felt like comic book characters to some degree, but Ellie and Joel felt like genuine human beings. And ND earned that by paying attention to the little things, like the way she'd sigh and do that thing with her lips, etc. Those moments that weren't about advancing some overly complex plot or beating you over the head with some dramatic choice. They could have gotten away with so much less and still have been the game of the generation. I simply can't think of any game like this, that never took the easy way out.
Needless to say, 10/10. Possibly the best game I've ever played.