“The Last of Us Part II’s” Perfect Score Conspiracy

The launch of video game developer Naughty Dog’s newest game The Last of Us Part II has been less than ideal to put it quite generously. Several months before the official release of TLOU2 substantial amounts of story based game content leaked to the internet. Project leader Neil Druckmann stated in an interview with Kinda Funny Gamescast he did everything he could to get the leaked content taken down.

Protecting the integrity of your intellectual property makes sense. Unfortunately, there were a lot of media outlets who were unfairly struck with DMCA takedowns for just speaking about the leaks.

Theory 1: Mr. Druckmann wholeheartedly knew before the leaks people were not going to like the treatment of one of TLOU’s main characters. That’s why there was so much deception about the game’s narrative in promotional material. It explains why the actions to purge the internet of anything related to the leaks were so aggressive.

Theory 2: Mr. Druckmann failed to anticipate just how upset his narrative decisions for TLOU2 would make fans of the original TLOU. This is when Mr. Druckmann realized the game he spent seven years developing was not going to sit well with a large portion of fans.

This is all speculation but this humble observer can’t help but think the majorly negative response to TLOU2’S leaks made SONY nervous. The Last of Us Part II is exclusive to the SONY Playstation and was a highly anticipated sequel to one of gaming’s most popular titles of all time.

The fan backlash from the leaks made it clear TLOU2 was not going to review well with fans. An “agreement” was made with official critics to cushion any damage caused by negative user reviews. Furthermore, the perfect rating scores pretty much across the board suggests somebody likely expected TLOU2 was going to review exceptionally poorly with a large amount of players.

Perfect critic scores no doubt helped day one sales. The real question is how well TLOU2 will sell beyond that? The original TLOU featured a popular multiplayer mode that gave the title longevity beyond the single player campaign. The Last of Us Part II currently lacks a multiplayer mode.

Reports of retailers refusing to take anymore returns of TLOU2 does not bode well.

The Last of Us Part II currently has a 4.7 out of 10 user review score on Metacritic.com with over 95,000 user reviews. There is also a change.org petition to change the story of TLOU2 with over 40,000 signatures. That’s not a theory.

Regardless of what actually happened behind the scenes it’s a shame TLOU2 turned out to be such a disappointment because the original TLOU has a very special place in the hearts of gamers around the world.

See you…

Naughty Dog Failed (Spoilers)

Naughty Dog failed its fans. Gamers around the world waited seven long years to continue the adventures of beloved characters Ellie and Joel the stars of the original, The Last of Us. However, the top brass at Naughty Dog used their rare opportunity to create one of the most anticipated sequels in video game history to scold players for being bad.

The Last of Us single player campaign was a well paced story full of character development and world building. It was the tale of how an embittered man and an orphaned teen girl bonded while traversing a harsh landscape full of post-apocalyptic dangers. Through countless hardships Ellie and Joel managed to survive and endure. Many people found their adventure to be endearing as The Last of Us is one of the best selling video games of all time.

Survival in a world without authorities to enforce systematic law meant the characters of The Last of Us were forced to live in a moral grey area. You do the best you can. Don’t trust strangers. Above all else, if it comes down to us versus them we fight for us. This is why the story choices made by the lead game developers at Naughty Dog for The Last of Us 2 are so baffling.

When the credits rolled at the end of The Last of Us it’s fairly obvious surviving a lawless land meant doing some things modern society might consider criminal. We’re not talking about modern society, though. The post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us is full of infected monsters and ruthless people bent on their own survival. Of course, people are going to have to do some stuff modern society would harshly frown upon.

Naughty Dog’s perception of Ellie and Joel’s actions in The Last of Us seems juvenile. Did you know that committing a crime is bad? In modern society. No shit. The rules of engagement are significantly altered when trapped in the confines of a brutal post-apocalyptic world full of infected monsters people with a kill or be killed mindset and a group of so called “good guys” who claim the only way to make a vaccine is to kill your daughter. This is not our modern world with crosswalks and bike paths. This is survival of the fittest with blades and bullets.


Killing Joel in unceremonious fashion because he was “a bad guy” and deserved it is incredibly disingenuous. Everyone in the world of The Last of Us is a “bad guy” to someone. It’s the nature of the world. No one can survive without adhering to a moral code far grayer than the one we abide by in modern society.

We know some of the things Ellie and Joel had to do to survive would make them criminals in modern society. In the context of The Last of Us their actions make perfect sense. Furthermore, we don’t care if they would be considered criminals in modern times. Some of the best characters in pop-culture aren’t exactly “good.”

I watched The Last of Us 2 play through via game streams. For that, I am very grateful. Shelling out $60 to be forced into a weak morality play that systematically destroys the integrity of two of the most beloved characters in video game history would have just been insult to injury.

The fact that Naughty Dog went out of its way to mislead fans with it’s advertising campaign is another reason I’m glad I didn’t spend money on this game. Game trailers leading up to The Last of Us 2‘s release featured the character of Joel prominently. He dies very early on in the game.

Naughty Dog knew their decision to kill Joel off in such a callous fashion would not sit well with fans and those fans would likely not want to buy their new game because of it. A new game Naughty Dog only got to make because the game that preceded it was so beloved. The only way to get the people who would hate what Naughty Dog did to Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us 2 to buy their new game was to lie to them about what was actually in the game. This is a pretty shady tactic. Being a creator on the level of Naughty Dog is a position most people will only dream about. Why would they sabotage their own product?

There is certainly something to be said about ending cycles of violence and fixing societal issues with intelligent answers. However, no one wants to shell out $60 dollars for a “game” that scolds the player for being bad. A well crafted narrative can balance out a societal commentary with good storytelling. The disjointed nature of The Last of Us 2‘s narrative suggests a storyteller who was too attached to their themes of revenge and sacrificed the logical nature of their characters in the name of the message they wanted to push forward.

Watching Ellie’s character dissolve into a revenge bent automaton was one half of the biggest crime in recent video game history. The other half of that crime being Joel’s murder. Two of video games’ most beloved characters sacrificed for what? Some sort of moral high ground? That’s the rub.

The visuals of The Last of Us 2 are great. The combat is serviceable and the upgrade system functions as expected. If you want to play a game just for the visuals and the combat you can do far worse. If you’re a fan of the first game I can’t recommend this game. As a story driven franchise the second installment fails it’s main characters.

The point of The Last of Us 2 is to drive home a person’s individual ability to end a cycle of revenge driven violence. The developers’ decision to have Ellie show mercy to Joel’s murderer is a beautiful sentiment. This is the world of The Last of Us! Do you know how many mortal dangers lurk around every corner? Ellie has to kill Joel’s murderer after engaging with her in mortal combat. How does Ellie know Joel’s murderer won’t come for her or the people she cares about next? It’s a nice sentiment to spare Joel’s murderer but it just doesn’t ring true in the context of the story let alone the final conflict.


The Last of Us 2 is a beautiful looking game with game mechanics that haven’t evolved much from the first game but is serviceable and looks fun in smaller doses. If you don’t care about the story the combat can be engaging but tedious exploration can make the game feel like a walking simulator at times. Naughty Dog failed the main characters of the original The Last of Us with a story that turns Ellie and Joel into shadows of their former selves to service the needs of a heavy handed morality lesson that just doesn’t make sense in the context of the world of The Last of Us.

If I were to recommend another single player game with a similar premise but also has an engaging story I have to suggest giving Days Gone a try. The “official critics” reviews weren’t overly positive but Days Gone is a really fun game. It’s open world map gives a lot to the player to do. Massive hordes of fast moving zombies make traversal an exciting challenge. There’s some crafting and survival mechanics to keep things interesting as well. The wildlife can be just as deadly as the zombies. One time I was killed by a bear while deer hunting. Plus, you get to build your own motorcycle. Not to mention the core campaign is around thirty hours long. Until next time, be true to yourselves. See, you soon.

Paper Cuts Season Finale Tonight!

Catch the season finale of Paper Cuts tonight at 11:30 PM EST. Paper Cuts is the cutting edge in late night.





YouTube: Paper Cuts Ep. 10 – “Revelations”

Paper Cuts Ep. 9 – “Full Moon”


Loria and The Host discuss their favorite forms of comedy, Cheese-Grater searches for meaning, Monk-Fish reflects upon his career, and The Foliage and Senor Crouts discuss how minor tweaks to a cartoon formula could make effective horror. Paper Cuts is the cutting edge in late night.

Paper Cuts Ep. 8 – “Majestic Gleam”


This week on Paper Cuts, Loria recalls a workplace anecdote and The Host indulges Loria’s anecdote, Cheese-Grater loses faith in humanity, Monk-Fish recalls meeting Ernest P. Worrell, and The Foliage exposes Senor Crouts devious side. Paper Cuts is the cutting edge in late night.

Paper Cuts Ep. 7 – “Gef The Talking Mongoose”


In this episode of Paper Cuts, Loria shares her hobbies with The Host, Cheese-Grater drops some truth bombs, Monk-Fish describes his typical concert going experience, and Senor Crouts regales The Foliage with a yarn about Rip Van Winkle’s home life. Paper Cuts is the cutting edge in late night.

Watch Episode 5 of Paper Cuts Now!


This week on Paper Cuts, Loria reveals to The Host the true origin of the “duck lips” phenomenon, Cheese-Grater discusses pharmacy store mind-crimes, Monk-Fish has a hot tub spirit quest, and The Foliage and Senor Crouts discuss otter serial killers.

Paper Cuts Teaser Trailer



Paper Cuts is on its way. The first season of Paper Cuts begins next week. Join the deadly glamorous Loria and the homicidally hilarious The Host for the premiere of their one of a kind late night show. Paper Cuts features the brusque observations of comic Cheese-Grater, the recollections of a man named Monk-Fish, and the pulpy conversations of a street wise sentient leaf named The Foliage and his hiking companion the ever rambling Senor Crouts. See you at the premiere next week!

Bryan DeMarco

Weirdworld Comic Series Review

Sonic Mercury a review of Weirdworld

Weirdworld, volume 2, is a Marvel comic book series written by Sam Humphries and features artwork by Mike Del Mundo. Weirdworld takes place in a less frequented corner of the Marvel Universe. This is a place ripe with magic, barbarians and adventure. Volume 2 of Weirdworld follows the journey of a teenager named Becca who hails from Marvel’s version of Earth. Becca was flying from the United States to Mexico when her plane somehow crash lands in Weirdworld.

“Becca’s introduction to Weirdworld.”


Weirdworld SonicMercury.com
“Becca’s introduction to Weirdworld

At first glance it might appear as a typical fish out of water story, and it is to an extent, but there is so much more than that here. For a story that takes place in such a fantastical setting, Becca’s personal journey is surprisingly deep. It’s not long before you find out the reason for Becca’s plane trip was to deliver her mother’s ashes to her mother’s favorite place in Mexico. Now she must carry out a daring quest, with unlikely travel companions, to escape Weirdworld and deliver her mother’s ashes to their final resting place.

Weirdworld comic review, Sonicmercury.com
“Becca checks on her mother’s ashes as ghosts in Weirdworld stalk her.”

My initial impression of Weirdworld was that of an 80’s epic fantasy adventure in the vein of Heavy Metal, and the lesser known Rock and Rule. It was pretty easy for me to imagine the person who narrated the trailers to those films narrating the opening to Weirdworld. Becca’s first companion in Weirdworld is Goleta, who takes on Becca as her squire.

Weirdworld Review, Sonicmercury.com
“Becca suits up for Weirdworld.”

For Goleta is a brave Viking woman who enjoys good drink…

Weirdworld comic review, Sonicmercury.com
“Goleta drinks her mighty Viking drink.”

…and good battle. She particularly hates wizards.

Weirdworld comic review, Sonicmercury.com
“Goleta slaughters a sand shark.”

Oh, Goleta also drives a badass hot-rod. Weirdworld is pretty awesome. Becca and Goleta’s trio is completed by the wise Catbeast.

Weirdworld comic review, Sonicmercury.com
“The Catbeast rises.”

Catbeast offers his knowledge of the lesser known parts of Weirdworld to help the trio complete their quest. I don’t want to spoil anything else because I want you to enjoy this adventure as much as I did. The bad news is, it looks like Weirdworld has been cancelled by Marvel. Several forums suggest the writer Sam Humphries has left Marvel to write exclusively for DC Comics. The good news is, this adventure exists. Individual issues might be hard to collect, but the trade just came out covering the entire six issue arc.

It’s been too long since I’ve picked up a story and felt totally immersed by completely new characters in a completely new world. Becca, Goleta, and Catbeast carve out quite the epic quest in their short run. It’s a story that quite honestly would make an incredible film. This adventure is just as exciting as it is heartfelt. They say Weirdworld is “a place where the lost can be found.” Don’t let this story become lost. It’s too good to go unnoticed. Del Mundo’s artwork is fantastic, and Humphries’ writing is just as good. I will definitely be looking forward to their future endeavors.

Who knows, if enough people pick up the back issues or trade, maybe Marvel will continue the series. What I do know is that Becca is too good of a character, and her adventure too much fun, to just fall off the face of the Marvel universe. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy Weirdworld as much as I did.

-Bryan DeMarco

Follow Sonic Mercury on Twitter @SonicMercury and like our Facebook page Sonic Mercury

*All images scanned from the paperback trade of  Marvel’s Weirdworld. I do not own the rights to any of the images used and they are displayed for review purposes only.



I’m Back Baby!


I know I have been gone for quite a while, and for that I am sorry. The truth is I am currently working on an MFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment, and that takes up quite a bit of my time right now. Maybe you’ll notice an improvement in my writing. Maybe not. Anyway, hopefully in the near future I will be writing lots of fun stuff for all of us to enjoy in many different forms of media.

It’s October again, and Pat is once again treating all of us to his 13 Days of Halloween Spectacular. So, while I will be making no promises like last year to update every single post he does this year; I will be making this post to remind all of you to watch Pat’s show. Click the giant link to check out episode #1 of this year’s special. The episode is about one of my all time favorite franchises The Evil Dead.

By the way I am still fairly active on Twitter, and if you want to get a glimpse of what I have been up to this last year check out my Tumblr page.

13 Days of Halloween 2015 – #1 “THE EVIL DEAD TRILOGY”


For more from Pat check out his YouTube Channel The GessNation or his Facebook page The Shred Shack

Follow Sonic Mercury on Twitter @SonicMercury and like our Facebook page Sonic Mercury