Sony Leisure/Naughty Canine
Warning: Delicate spoilers for The Final of Us Half II
The Final of Us Half II has no scarcity of unhappy moments for gamers. However the happiest second I had whereas enjoying was one not usually talked about: Discovering out that Dina, protagonist Ellie’s love curiosity, is Jewish.
Dina begins relationship Ellie in the beginning of the sport, proper earlier than the tragic occasion that adjustments her life eternally. Afterwards, she accompanies Ellie on her revenge mission to Seattle. Early within the recreation, gamers are set free in a post-apocalyptic Seattle, retaken by nature, to search out the gasoline wanted to open a gate and progress alongside the storyline.
That seek for gasoline takes Ellie and Dina to a meals distribution middle positioned in a synagogue, and after climbing by lovely stained glass home windows, Dina will get actually excited.
“Hey Ellie,” Dina says. “This place is a synagogue.”
“How are you going to inform?” Ellie asks curiously.
“One, there are menorah decorations on the wall. It is a Jewish factor. And two, I did not burst into flames simply now.”
“Burst into flames?”
It appeared like a dialog I’d have in a world like that.
I am Jewish, and at that second the gears began delivering my head and I spotted that I had by no means performed a recreation with a Jewish character I might relate to. There are solely a handful of Jewish characters in video video games: There’s B.J. Blazkowicz, the primary character of the Wolfenstein collection, who shoots Nazis and fights Mecha-Hitler, and that is just about it. Then there’s Andrew Ryan, one of many unhealthy guys in Bioshock, and Meryl Silverburgh, the closely made-up fighter from the Steel Gear Strong collection. None of those characters appear very relatable to me.
However I might relate to somebody like Dina, who views faith lots like I do — as a supply of consolation and household connection. Speaking about it’s only a short second within the recreation, however it meant lots to me.
The moments within the synagogue actually present Ellie and Dina at their finest. Whereas Ellie continues to be consumed by hatred and her need for revenge and justice, she exhibits the identical naive curiosity she had within the first recreation, earlier than trauma modified her eternally; moments like this present she is not all the best way gone. She by no means mocks Judaism — a totally new idea to her — or makes Dina really feel unhealthy, she solely asks questions.
Whereas exploring the synagogue and in search of provides, Ellie finds a Hebrew calendar hanging on the wall.
“5774? Are we sooner or later?” Ellie asks.
“No, doofus, that is a Hebrew calendar,” Dina solutions.
These conversations aren’t hidden away in part of the sport you may simply miss. Going by the synagogue is a part of the primary goal, and Dina is explaining just a few actual issues about Jewish tradition and her beliefs whilst you run round fixing a puzzle.
“For the brand new 12 months. My sister used to present me an apple dipped in honey. Ugh, now I am craving it,” she says.
Like Dina, I like that Judaism provides me a connection to folks in my household. I am a member of the identical synagogue my dad, grandfather, and great-grandfather have been members of. Regardless that I by no means knew my grandfather or great-grandfather, I really feel related to them by Jewish traditions that by no means change — and the synagogue is a spot the place I really feel welcome, regardless of avoiding companies for years.
Judaism provides me a connection to my previous. I am going to at all times consider my grandma once I eat her brisket recipe, which is so good that no restaurant can examine. And I am going to at all times bear in mind celebrating Hanukkah with my household, singing Ma’ozTzur from a yellowed pamphlet from 1920 that belonged to my great-grandfather, and laughing actually onerous as a result of the primary notice is at all times very off.
In Half II, the characters reside in a post-apocalyptic world utterly minimize off from the previous. However faith can bridge that hole, connecting us to household and ancestors we now have by no means me As Dina says within the recreation, it is cool to return from an extended line of survivors. Irrespective of what number of issues change on this planet, Judaism has endured. And that’s comforting throughout scary occasions — like a worldwide pandemic or a fictional zombie outbreak. In actual life, Jews have suffered centuries of discrimination and violence. When life has been altered eternally, faith is a strategy to maintain one piece of the earlier than occasions.
Dina says she would not name herself a believer, and neither would I. She was dragged to temple by her sister, similar to I used to be dragged as soon as every week by my household till I used to be confirmed at 16 (It is a Reform Judaism factor, too!), once I refused to maintain going as a result of I used to be an atheist.
I am not an atheist anymore, and I imagine in the next energy. A part of the rationale I believe I imagine that is for a similar causes as Dina. For her, perception brings a way of calm, it helps put issues in perspective, it is a strategy to take care of grief, and it is a strategy to present respect. It helps her floor herself: She says prayers throughout pivotal and irritating occasions in her life, like earlier than leaving for Seattle with Ellie.
Which isn’t to say that Half II shies away from the evils of faith.
One of many enemy factions within the recreation is an evil cult known as the Seraphites, who assume in the event that they eliminate all sin, the zombies will go away and society can return to regular. Their perception, too, provides them a way of objective and management in a daunting world. There are lots of morally gray factions in Half II, however this is not one among them; the Seraphites present how faith can go too far when that’s all you depend on on this planet.
However even the Seraphite cult has its makes use of in small doses — one other foremost character, Abby, is scared of heights, so she makes use of one thing she realized from the Seraphites to get her by the worry: the concept feeling worry means your physique is at its strongest. And that’s comforting to her, regardless of her hatred of the cult.
And if Ellie had taken any recommendation in the course of the recreation, it will’ve been finest for her to take the recommendation of the synagogue’s rabbi, who left a letter in a desk about how he’d needed to evacuate the synagogue firstly of the outbreak. It is unhappy to be pressured from your own home, he wrote, however ultimately, it is the residing those that matter. Jews all through historical past have realized this. The Final of Us Half II may need been very totally different had Ellie realized it too.
Kaity Kline is a columnist for NPR’s Be part of the Sport and a producer on 1A. She is a local of New Jersey, a lifelong gamer, and a former gaming YouTuber. She tweets at @kaitykline