Illustration for article titled Letdown: Naughty Dog Says They Worked So Hard On ‘The Last Of Us II’s Amazing Cutscenes, They Only Had Time To Create A Basic Word Puzzler For Gameplay

Well, gamers, this is a bit of a bummer. While past trailers for The Last of Us Part II made it look like it would be a genre-defining interactive experience that expanded on everything that made the original great, Naughty Dog revealed today that they spent so much time crafting the game’s incredible plot and cinematics that the actual gameplay will just consist of a simple word puzzle mini-game.

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We’ll admit it: This is a legitimate letdown.

“Unfortunately, we spent the past five years so intent on topping the original Last Of Us’s storytelling that we spent our entire budget on motion capture and just forgot to include any interactivity until about three days ago,” said director Neil Druckmann, who told OGN he had spent the past 72 stress-inducing hours rushing to code a word puzzle game as a stand-in for any gaming element. “It’s kind of a blend of crossword puzzles and sudoku. There’s a point system and our graphics guy threw together a nice icon to show Joel’s face, but that’s about all we had time for.”

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“Look, we’re really sorry about this,” he continued.

In our short hands-on with the game, we got to see a gut-wrenching confessional scene where Ellie opens up to a potential romantic interest about the devastating experience of surviving in a ruined world, before abruptly taking a dog-eared collection of word games from her back pocket and saying, “Hey, these are fun. Let’s play.” From there, we were launched into the gameplay, where Ellie’s static avatar glided onscreen and we were prompted to fill out a grid with a short hint about words like “smallest state in the union” or “fungus that destroed world [sic].”

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Frankly, we wish we had better news, readers, but this was not the polished release we were looking for.

“Between the 15 puzzles and some special themes like ‘Underwater Exploration’ or ‘Classic Tinseltown Stars,’ we have some decent variety in there,” explained Druckmann, before admitting that the experience would still likely underwhelm anyone expecting an edge-of-your-seat adventure that featured Ellie fighting her way through a post-apocalyptic America. “The game’s dictionary is pretty limited, unfortunately, because we just didn’t budget any time or manpower to honing this experience. So, a lot of answers won’t register as real words even though they are.”

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“Now, we managed to throw a lot of references to word searches into the cutscenes, which certainly helps explain why the characters keep playing this weird little crossword game, but I understand if anyone is disappointed,” he said.

So yeah, gamers. This might not be the awesome survival-horror game we were eagerly awaiting all these years, but after watching so many amazing cutscenes, we’re still holding out hope The Last of Us Part II will top plenty of Game Of The Year lists, including ours!

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