This Song always hits hard. But especially hard, after the ranch scene, where Joel has to make The Choice, either to part ways with Ellie, or go the final stretch and be with her just a little bit longer.
The sound editors synchronized the change from minor to major mode in this piece to coincide with the three of them coming over the hill and seeing Jackson for the first time. I always hear that as the moment when Joel actually makes his choice too. It’s an incredibly powerful, but subtle, thing, and it really shows how music can be an effective and important part of the storytelling.
That was beautifully put , and I totally agree with you that the music plays a huge role in video games.