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The untold story behind Liv’s voice in ‘The Last of Us Part II’


before you meet Live In Our last part 2You see his arrow piercing the cheek of a man about to hit Lev’s sister Yara with a hammer. There is nothing hidden in Lev’s introduction. He’s quick and calculated, navigating through the trees in the dark like a spirit, or perhaps even a small wild animal, to stay hidden and rescue his sister from a religious cult she desperately tried to escape from.

Abby—the anti-hero and divisive focus of the latter half of the game—was cuffed by the neck and is within seconds of losing her life when she hears Liv for the first time. His voice was sharp, fast, high-pitched and full of worry as he called out his sister’s name, leaping over a stone barrier as easily as a 13-year-old boy, drawn with a bow and arrow. Abby thinks she survived.

Liv looks at his sister, then looks at Abby – his head shaved, his eyebrows furrowed, his mouth cocked – unsure if he should cut off Abby, because her people have long been at war with his own, fighting for control of Seattle in a post-apocalyptic world. The infection destroyed it.

So when Yara asks Lev to cut her off, Lev uses his voice to respond. “She’s one of them,” he says. But Yara is adamant. He must save her. All life, you see, is precious. Liv does as he says, albeit a little reluctantly, and when Abe is released, the three of them begin their harrowing journey into the night.

One: There are two sides to every story

Liv is a minor character in Our last part 2Quite possibly the most controversial and most talked about game of the last generation since then Released a year ago. Players wear Abby’s shoes in the latter half of the game as she embarks on a path to redemption. But the story of Liv, a 13-year-old transgender teen forced into exile when his community rejected him, is more compelling.

Liv is a fugitive from the Seraphite, an authoritarian religious sect whose members adhere to strict, predetermined roles. He defied the role assigned to him as the wife of an elder Serafti, and shaved his head, a decision reserved for males. By reclaiming his identity in this way, he puts himself and his family at risk.

“One of the things we wanted to explore was this made-up religion, and how religion, especially organized religion, can also adapt to those wonderful and horrific things in terms of spirituality but also xenophobia and the exclusion of certain identities,” says Neil Druckman, Creative Director and Co-Chairman of Naughty Dog, the developer of the game. “Anytime you do something like this, you want to make sure it’s not an icon, and it’s something that fits into the story.”

Liv’s story is full of complexity. In a world filled with unbearable violence and grief, a world where it is easier to worry about the enemy than to care about others, Liv simply wants to be left alone to live his truth in peace. He is full of hope and certainty – he knows without a doubt who he is and what kind of person he wants to become – and asks for nothing in return but to be allowed to do so. Out. Liv’s story resonates with many in the LGBTQ community, as it is a familiar tale of belonging and survival.

But over the course of the game, Liv has evolved from a quiet, reticent boy struggling to find his place in the world to the game’s most compelling character and lonely voice of reason. In fact, the second half of Our last part 2 Hanging on Lev’s every word, every action, and every chance to discover his voice.

Two: the scars of a past life

In Liv’s story, actor Ian Alexander saw many parallels with his life: his religious upbringing, the rejection he experienced from his parents, and how he shaved his head as an act of rebellion.

Photography: Tracy Nguyen

Originality in acting was a major factor in bringing Liv back to life. It is also a difficult role for the actor. As a secondary character, Lev’s development is driven by artificial intelligence, as a reaction to what the player does, as does Abe. Hundreds of lines are logged to calculate each variable or possible outcome in the game.



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