As much as I love Ellie and Joel’s and relationship - slightly unhealthy co-dependency and all - part of me can’t help but wonder what would have happened if, instead of killing Sara off for manpain, she’d been the one to survive, and Joel was the one who got shot that night.
There’s just so much potential in a tough-as-nails, thirty-two year old Sara, who was forced to grow up way too fast in those years following the collapse of society, tasked with escorting a 14 year old girl who reminds her just a little too much of herself (before everything went to shit that is). And she comes to care about her in spite of that, maybe as a daughter, or a younger sister, or a protege, or even just as a projection of her own lost youth, trampled underfoot by a world that isn’t kind to little girls, even before everything falls apart.
Like I’m a big fan of the current trend of sad dad’s passing the proverbial torch to their murder daughters, but you know what’s missing from pretty much every AAA game? Mother-daughter relationships. I can’t think of a single game off the top of my head with two female characters that share a relationship that is in any way comparable to Ellie and Joel’s. And that’s a huge fucking shame, because there’s a massive untapped market of brutal, angry momma-bear protagonists who’ve been through hell, and will claw their way through it again to make sure their girls never have to end up scarred and hardened like them.
I’m not saying the Last of Us would have been better if Sara had been the primary protagonist, but it would have been an interesting departure from a tired and frankly, kinda patronizing formula. And the more I think about it, the more I feel like we missed out on something that could have been absolutely incredible.