When a player finishes the story mode of “The Last of Us,” the title screen subtly changes, and Ellie’s signature pocket knife is now lying down on the sill — a symbol of her newfound safety. There’s a whole, unknown world beyond the window covered in lush green, and Ellie seems to have put her guard down enough to lay her weapon to rest. Whenever one loads up the game, they’re treated to a momentary symbol of peace right before reverting to the violent nature the gameplay demands. Handing the window shot to Bill and Frank similarly bookends their story with a cathartic amount of contentedness.
When there’s a simple, meaningful image like that always in mind, it’s easy to see how it could become easily overused. It’s a great thing that Eben Bolter and company made an effort to not “overdo it,” despite the temptation:
“We were definitely conscious to not overdo it, actually. I can remember several other times where it was like, ‘Oh, as she walks away, if we hold … it’s the window shot.’ And it would be like, ‘Yeah, but it doesn’t mean anything.’ So we had to check ourselves quite a few times. But that did feel like a real time to do it. I’m glad it stayed in, because so often these things don’t.”
The window motif shows up one other time in the games, providing the final shot to Ellie’s long quest to find inner peace in the wake of blind revenge in “The Last of Us Part II.” If we are to see the window shot make its return again in this series, hopefully it will be associated with another character’s moment of self-realization.