Naughty Dog released one of 2013's greatest games almost a full year ago, and yet their first, and only, single player DLC just released in February. Such a long time between releases means one of two things: the developers were struggling with the material, finally giving up and hoping no one would even notice it was released at this point, or the developers used their time wisely and created a worthy addition to one of the greatest games of the last generation. Thankfully, Naughty Dog is guilty of the latter. Spoilers for The Last of Us, and Left Behind follow in this review.
The Last of Us: Left Behind fills in a gap of time towards the tail end of the main storyline for The Last of Us. While Ellie is forced to fend for herself and protect Joel, she reminisces about a time long past when she spent one final night with Riley, her best friend. They escape from Ellie's military confines for a romp through an abandoned shopping mall, and what follows is a touching story about friendship, love, and death. Pretty much The Last of Us at its best. These segments are easily the highlight of the game. You simply control Ellie through these moments, interacting with Riley as much as you please in some instances, which make you feel like you are there, and influencing their relationship. It's on the player how much you want to invest in these two, but the slower you take these adventure sections, the more the end will pay off.
Intercut between these quiet, personal moments, players will control Ellie from the main game, as she hides in a shopping mall with the incapacitated Joel. How you'll feel about these sections depends a lot on your feelings on just how much of this game should be focused on the story. Controlling Ellie in the present day is the only time you'll encounter combat in Left Behind, and it really feels more like they put it in because they felt obligated to include some action. Showing how Ellie fended for herself and Joel at this time in the game was a good idea, but the combat often gets in the way of more flashbacks, which is where the story shines. There aren't any new additions to the combat sections, either, which makes it feel even more tacked on.
Ultimately, Left Behind is all about the story. It's short, but just as long as it needs to be to deliver a heart wrenching ending, much like the original game. In the few hours that you'll control Ellie, both in past and present, you'll get more depth not only to her character, but to the world The Last of Us takes place in, and her relationship to Joel. All of these things enhance the main game, and never hurt it, which is the best accomplishment any DLC can achieve. Fans of The Last of Us have absolutely no reason not to pick up this extra chapter.