Among the tales of revenge, love, and loss, it's really easy to forget that The Last of Us is, at its core, a horror game about a flesh-eating virus eradicating humankind. At times, a pretty horrifying one.
In fact, The Last of Us Part 2 is even more horrific than its predecessor. The fungal enemies are more intimidating and ferocious than before, and human enemies are divided into cults, one of which likes to disembowel people for a bit of fun. Set against the moody background of the concrete jungle of Seattle, it's a dark and foreboding game, where any one of a handful of dangers lurk around any corner.
There are truly terrifying moments littered throughout The Last of Us Part 2, and in this article we're going to be breaking down the five scariest moments throughout Naughty Dog's gruesome game. Be warned, there are spoilers here for The Last of Us Part 2!
The Resident Evil Hospital of Horror
Pretty late into The Last of Us Part 2, former Washington Liberation Front veteran and expert infected-slayer Abby needs to save a child from the wounds eating away at her, inflicted at the hands of Seraphites with hammers. To do this, she needs to descend deep into the bowels of the hospital the Wolves are occupying, which it turns out is actually ground zero for the entire infected outbreak in Seattle 24 years ago.
The realization that what you're descending into was ground zero for a citywide outbreak, before you actually traverse the depths of the hospital, is horrific in its own way. You come across documents detailing how patients within the facility were abandoned to their infection. Your mind immediately starts questioning what new monstrosities you're going to discover down there, that have been locked away for all these years behind steel bulkhead doors. The Last of Us Part 2 has an answer for that: a towering behemoth of spliced-together infected bodies and mangled limbs.
This thing is literally unlike anything you've ever seen before in the seven years of Naughty Dog's series. It dwarfs the intimidating Bloaters by comparison, barely able to fit under the parking garage ceiling in which the showdown with it takes place. That a storied killer like Abby completely losing her shit at the monster tells you all you need to know about it: this thing is the pinnacle of Infected evolution, and a staggering force to be reckoned with.
The fight with the monster is panicked and scrappy. Abby's flashlight barely pierces the dark depths of the hospital, the creature howling as it crashes through walls behind her. The entire showdown actually puts your memory skills to the test, as you'll need to remember the layout of the parking garage, and which rooms have exits in which positions. When you finally confront and take down its initial form, it actually splits off into a smaller, faster form that resembles a superpowered Stalker. Gross. All in all, it's a terrifying fight, and perhaps the scariest overall moment in the entire game.
The Woodland Brawl With Lev and Yara
Cast your mind back to October 2017, and you might remember that harrowing trailer for The Last of Us Part 2 from Paris Games Week. During Sony's showcase, a dark four-minute trailer played out, depicting unknown assailants with hammers shattering arms of other mysterious characters.
Fast-forward almost three years, and we can finally fill in the blanks around this scene. Abby gets strung up by the Seraphites, while Yara gets her arm brutally smashed by a hammer, only for the two to be rescued by Lev. What follows is an unrelenting sprint through the surrounding woodland area to safety, with our trio being pursued by hordes of Clickers and Runners.
There's so much chaos and confusion in the aftermath of the haunting event. Armed with nothing but a hammer, Abby has to fend off attackers as Lev and an injured Yara stumble through the dense woodland to safety. The fact that you've only just met the pair doesn't dampen your will to protect them at all costs after seeing what the Seraphites have done to Yara, and would likely do to Lev as well.
The music swells to an upbeat rhythm, matching my heart beating out of my chest. Every swing with the hammer costs you precious seconds of more Infected bearing down on you, and every outstretched claw that connects with you feels like a ton of bricks when you're protecting two children. It's just you and the scrappy fighting mechanics against a horde of feral monsters, which by itself is enough to get your racing. But the sound of the hammer crunching Yara's arm, with a sound effect as sickening as anything in Misery or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is what makes this scene stand out...
Enter the Seraphites
Yara and Lev aren't the only ones to fall foul of the Seraphites. Traipsing around the outskirts of suburban Seattle, Ellie periodically comes across shrines to a mysterious Jesus-like figure. There's some cultists evidently at work in Seattle, and something about the "feel her love" tagline adorning the murals of the prophet feels incredibly unnerving.
The first time you encounter the Seraphites for yourself is panic-inducing. Ellie is traversing a small woodland area within Seattle, when she begins to hear strange whistling noises coming from nearby. She attempts to scale a ledge, but is knocked back out of nowhere by an arrow piercing through her shoulder, tearing through the dark woods. Then, as she looks up to see her assailants, three hooded figures move out from the nearby treeline toward her under the cover of darkness, the moon almost spotlighting them from above.
The Seraphites knew Ellie was there all along, and they were watching and waiting for the right moment to ambush her. Anyone getting the drop on Ellie is unsettling, but these menacing figures advancing on her with coded whistles and armed with hammers, pickaxes, and bows is just plain terrifying, especially while you're being forced to pull the arrow out of your shoulder as the figures draw ever closer.
The Seraphites rival the infected for pure, unmitigated horror, and their ferocious introduction goes a long way to selling them as a threat. In less than 60 seconds I knew the Seraphites were a force to be reckoned with, and their actions told me they were trained hunters and killers, adept in savaging anyone who crossed their path.
Fighting the Lurking Stalkers
Infected come in all shapes and sizes, and The Last of Us Part 2 establishes that there are more paths of evolution to the funky fungal foes than we thought. One of these evolutions is known as the "stalker" stage, and they're both annoying and scary to deal with in equal measure.
The first time you encounter the Stalkers, it's near the immediately-recognizable Seattle Convention Center. There's no warning the Stalkers are there-they jump out from behind office supplies and cubicles, ambushing you without any warning. Considering this is the first time you've seen them, it's pretty terrifying.
The Stalkers don't rush toward you head on like the Runners, nor do they hang back and act oblivious unless disturbed like the Clickers. Instead, they actively seek you out in certain segments of the game, following your every movement from the shadows and waiting for just the right time to strike.
Usually you'd be able to listen and pinpoint the location of the infected, but the Stalkers negate this with some sort of clever trick. Taking away one of the biggest assets available to Ellie and Abby, and it feels extremely unsettling to be around the Stalkers when you're so far out of your comfort zone, unable to rely on your hearing like you have done throughout this journey and its predecessor.
It's like a deadly game of cat and mouse with the Stalkers. Both sides are hiding from the other, waiting to see who'll be the first to make a move. If you go headlong into their territory with a shotgun, it's really easy to get overwhelmed in seconds, but the same can happen if the Stalkers all converge on you at once. Fighting the Stalkers is a gamble any way you look at it, and realizing your hearing ability will do nothing to help you out is one of the scarier moments in the game.
The Nora Chase
Earlier on in Ellie's voyage through the remains of Seattle, she already has her sights set on one member of the band who journeyed to Jackson to take revenge on Joel. When Ellie finally confronts Nora in the Wolves' headquarters, the latter flees, with Ellie giving chase through corridors strewn with soldiers.
At the end of the chase though, the pair fall into a pit leading to the underground area of the building, which is blanketed with the infectious spores. As Nora stumbles away, coughing and gasping for air, the invulnerable Ellie takes cover as three elite soldiers wearing night vision goggles descend into the ruins after her.
What happens next feels like an intentional homage to The Cabin in the Woods. With the soldiers bearing down on me, I throw a single bottle toward them, which shatters upon reaching the ground, causing all the soldiers to freeze in terror. A Clicker roars nearby, and a swarm of the monsters come shambling toward the soldiers, who let loose with all the ammunition and equipment they've got.
One by one they all get dragged down by the Clickers, ripped limb from limb in a brutal melee of claws and teeth. And all I do is sit back and watch the carnage unfold from the dark, knowing I've just sentenced a squad to death. This moment is scary because it shows what you can inflict upon others in this hostile world of The Last of Us Part 2. You've got all the tools at your disposal to be an unrelenting killer, using the Infected as your weapons to bring a grisly demise to anyone who stands in your way.
The Last of Us Part 2 is a far scarier game than the original. There are more tools at the disposal of Ellie and Abby, like pipe bombs, trap mines, and incendiary ammo, but that's all counteracted by the infected and human terrors you'll have to reckon with on the journey.
Naughty Dog's sequel really drives home the horrors of this unique apocalypse. The creatures that populate America aren't just zombies, and the game breaks free from this with more creative monsters like in the underground hospital area. If the original Last of Us was a survival game, this is a fully-fledged horror game.