After watching Shroud marathon The Last of Us, I got reabsorbed into the universe. It’s a typical zombie game but what are these genres good for? The deep characters that you get attached to and an interesting world you would hope you’d never see. Let’s go back and examine what made The Last of Us so great.
I’ll save the good stuff for later and start with one aspect that gives it the Triple-A feel. The gameplay is exceptionally fluid, you can tell it’s a Naughty Dog game. The teamwork between Joel, the player character, and whatever companion he’s with is well executed. When Joel goes for a stealth takedown near another enemy, his partner is always there to take out the extra. The differentiation between how to handle a human encounter and a cordyceps encounter is also a welcomed variety of gameplay that adds a little bit of depth to the encounters. Moreover, the game’s UI is outstanding. The backpack system for picking weapons and changing them flows perfectly with the game and doesn’t rip you out from the environment and throw you into a menu with the world paused around you.
Spoilers from this point on! The game is an amazing storytelling experience and I feel should be experienced instead of read about. The gameplay is amazing so go give it a shot.
The opening sequence is a real heartbreaker. Control is given to the player as Joel’s daughter, Sarah, in the middle of the night the day of the outbreak. Chaos ensues and they try to get out of the town but as they’re getting out, a soldier stops them and is given the order to take them out. Joel’s brother kills the soldier before he can kill Joel but the soldier still got a shot off that unfortunately kills Sarah. This is a very tragic event early in the game that literally tears your heart out. The impact feels rougher when the rest of the game is a few years after the outbreak and Joel became a broken man that’s just trying to live each day as it comes.
And then he’s tasked with escorting Ellie out of town to the Fireflies, a rogue faction that opposes the military control of quarantine zones and is seeking a cure for the infection. After the handoff goes south and the Fireflies that were supposed to take her were killed by bandits, Joel becomes determined to bring Ellie to the Fireflies. From here he sets off on a grand adventure across the country that spans over a year to follow leads to the Firefly HQ to bring Ellie to them in hopes a cure can be discovered. Following the two on their journey through all 4 seasons and all the various locations is a massive bonding experience, not just for the two characters but between you and the characters too. By the end of the game, you’re absolutely invested in these characters and would want the best for them regardless of the consequences.
The game ends with Ellie on the operating table and Joel barging in to stop the scientists from cutting her up and examining her. Dragging her out through all the Fireflies, even killing a major leader in their organization, he brings her back to the hydro-electric plant his brother ended up settling after the outbreak to start anew. The end feels weird if you don’t manage to pick up any of the notes and recordings on the way to the operating room to hear of the previous subjects that were immune but no real results came out of their sacrifice. There are plenty more notes and hidden lore all through the entire game and it’s quite interesting to see just how deep the world goes.
Overall The Last of Us is a great game with a deep experience you should try to see first hand. If you are unable to get your hands on a PlayStation to play it, The Last of Us is an excellent 16-hour movie (via Let’s Play videos) you can kick back and enjoy. Have you played The Last of Us? What do you think? Is it worth the praise it gets?