Warning! We’re going to be talking about some late-game developments in The Last of Us Part 2, as well as an element that’s only revealed once you’ve finished the game. Read on at your own risk!
Throughout your time in The Last of Us Part 2, one haunting image is always present: a boat, drifting lightly across low waves, immersed in fog. You’ll have to work through the entire game to find out the meaning of that image, and as you might expect, it’s tied in with The Last of Us 2’s dark tale of revenge and its themes of violence, trauma, and redemption.
When you finally finish the game and the meaning of the boat becomes clear, something changes. Save a completed game file so you can start a New Game Plus playthrough or use the chapter selection menu, and you’ll find a new image adorning the main menu screen. This one doesn’t show the boat shrouded in fog; instead, it shows the same boat on a brighter beach, with sunlight breaking through stormclouds dissipating in the distance.
The metaphorical implications of the switch are pretty obvious; The Last of Us Part 2 is about a dark journey for Ellie and Abby, especially as Ellie finds herself doing awful things in pursuit of her vengeance for Joel. The boat sits in a foggy darkness, with the horizon obscured, and that’s a pretty good comparison to what’s going on internally with the characters, too. After finishing the game, when Ellie and Abby have come out the other side of that inner storm, the menu switches to a brighter, more hopeful image.
But that last image is also a very literal indication that things might be better, at least for Abby and Lev. The menu screen shows Catalina Island, a real place off the coast of southern California, with the boat on its shore. The big round building in the image is a real place: Catalina Casino. The shot suggests that after the fight with Ellie, Abby and Lev reached their goal of making it to Catalina Island to find the Fireflies there.
So that makes the menu screen something of a post-credits scene, indicating both a thematic shift for the characters, and hinting at the outcome of the game’s story. What happens to Abby and Lev after their arrival on Catalina is something we don’t know–but judging from that image, we can at least intuit something of a happy ending for The Last of Us Part 2.
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