The Last of Us

Julie Hassett

If you haven’t at least heard of The Last of Us by now, then I suggest you add this game to your shopping list! The Last of Us is a deeply emotional and touching survival horror game developed by Naughty Dogs, the same developers who brought us the infamous Uncharted series. I can guarantee there is no survival game quite like this one, where the environment itself is toxic and chances of survival are slim to none. With corrupt humans ready to kill you at every turn, decaying zombies tackling you at crazy speeds and the very atmosphere itself filled with toxins that could potentially transform you into one of these mutated cannibals, the game leaves no room for relaxation!

The player controls Joel, played by the super-talented Troy Baker, who pours his heart and soul into this role. He must survive in this hostile landscape, all the while taking care of a fourteen-year-old Ellie, played by the equally talented Ashley Johnson.

Their relationship grows in this unlikely habitat that should corrupt them, and the game not only focuses on surviving in the normal sense (looking for food, weapons and shelter), but also focuses on the need of love in order to survive.

Detail of the environment is gorgeous. Take a look at any still from the game and you’ll find yourself in awe at its graphics. From the harrowing scenes of death and loss to the calmer scenes, this game takes you on a real journey through a world in which nature has taken over.

The survival elements of the game focus on collecting weapons and conserving them as you traverse the landscape. You must also find gears and scrap cloth and such in order to create first aid kits or improvised weapons. You can also find some nondescript pills to heal you up right away.

Stakes certainly are high in The Last of Us, but the heart of the game is with the story as a lone man tries to take a page out of Morgan Freeman’s book and search for hope in a world that has seemingly been sapped of any form of happiness and love. Joel and Ellie’s relationship is at the heart of the game. Joel, who loses his own daughter early on in the game, remembers life before the world becomes infected by this horrific virus and must learn how to survive. Ellie, on the other hand, looks on this world with tainted eyes, never knowing the world to be any different. If anything, despite her young age, she is more equipped than Joel to survive this terrain, since she was born into it. To borrow from Batman’s Bane: she was born in the dark, Joel was merely adopted by it.

Honestly, if you can survive this game without tearing up at least once, then I think you’ve played it wrong! This game teaches the player what it really means to survive, stripping the world down to its bare bones and revealing its rotten interior.

The Last of Us was originally released on the Playstation 3 in 2013 and reached worldwide critical acclaim. It has been praised for its visuals, the writing, its depiction of both female and LGBT characters, and has been widely considered one of the greatest video games of all time. The game was remastered for the PS4 in July 2014. As if that wasn’t enough, Naughty Dog also created a downloadable expansion pack, called The Last of Us: Left Behind in which a short, extra game follows Ellie prior to meeting Joel.

The first game was all about love, as Joel and Ellie learn to love each other and protect each other. In stark contrast, the second game will be about hate, according to The Last of Us writer, Neil Druckmann. Whatever that means for our beloved characters, I shudder to think. But what can be guaranteed is the same incredible environment, the emotional and enthralling story-telling and a game that evokes an emotional experience unlike any other!