The Last of Us 2 received critical acclaim for many reasons: its storytelling and Naughty Dog’s attention to detail are consistently praised. Recently, a fan of The Last of Us 2 highlighted a detail that seemingly combines both of these strengths.
The story of The Last of Us 2, like the first game, is entirely built around the relationship between Joel and Ellie. However, instead of telling a story that is ultimately about love, the sequel focuses primarily on the concepts of violence and revenge. This is reflected in the tone of the game scenes, where both Ellie and the player are constantly reminded of the tragic events that take place at the beginning of The Last of Us 2. As it turns out, one of these reminders is extremely subtle.
At the beginning of Ellie’s story, players will have to find the gate code, and gamers will eventually stumble upon a member of the W.O.F. that Tommy has been torturing for information. He will eventually write the code in his own blood on the floor. The numbers can be seen in the image below, with the bottom part of code 7302. However, the decision to leave these numbers upside down forced Reddit user xX_melog_Xx see the name Joel.
While this may just be a case of pareidolia, where the player sees exactly what they hope for, most commentators believe that this was intentional. After all, The Last of Us 2 is full of subtle details and carefully hidden secrets that players will discover months and years after release. Also, Naughty Dog could have just shown the numbers facing up, but the developer chose to frame the scene that way. Considering how reasonable it is for Ellie to see reminders of Joel everywhere she looks, his name written in blood seems fitting.
While another Reddit user Phoenix2211 didn’t provide a source, he says the developer has already confirmed on Twitter that players should see Joel’s name during this scene. He also points out that this tactic has been used by Naughty Dog in the past, as Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End featured an Easter egg with a license plate bearing the name of Elena Fisher. Since Naughty Dog has already used this trick in the Uncharted series, it seems even more likely that this is a deliberate reference to Joel.