The Last of Us, a title that has received so much award and praise that it feels like the second coming of Christ for videogames.
I recently picked up The Last of Us Remastered as I was eager to try out the game’s fantastic multiplayer again. However, I found myself drawn back into the story of Joel and Ellie – and curiously played through the game for a second time to see how it holds up.
The best zombie narratives, (in this case post-epidemic, mixed with fungal undead) keep the core of humanity, and human interaction at their heart. What makes these narratives compelling is seeing the way in which regular people change and become something entirely different through their willingness to survive. It’s a narrative that navigates the line between good and evil.
There’s never a clear answer, and that’s the point. Strangely enough, the first time I experienced the game’s ending, I shot down everyone willingly, attempting to reach Ellie to save her. This time, if I had the choice, I’d be happy for the doctors to make that difficult decision of killing her.
The Last of Us is full of moments that reveal more about ourselves than it does the monsters lurking in the dark. Perhaps one of the most memorable lines is an optional conversation with Ellie; where she sees a picture of a beautiful and thin-stick woman and thus asks Joel: “I thought there was a lot of food in your time?”. Joel replies saying “there was, some people just chose not to eat it.”
The dialogue is beautiful, as is the story and the characters. In many ways Joel is both the most likeable and unlikeable character in the title. The loss of his daughter haunts him but it also makes him uncaring and cruel. Grief permeates his entire being to such a point that he is willing to condemn the earth to its apocalypse, just so he can attempt to get over the loss of his daughter.
Whilst the story is exceptional, this time around the gameplay disappointed me ever so slightly. The first time I played I thought the combat represented a brutality that mirrored its setting. Whilst that still holds true, mechanically the game can be a mess. In true Naughty Dog style shooting is merely acceptable. Stealth is great, although the A.I’s insistence of stomping around areas seriously detracts from the experience. There are also too many combat encounters that feel like padding. The worst crime though has to be in certain traversal sections, where you have to transport Ellie across a body of water on a wooden platform. One of these sections happens so near the end of the game that I couldn’t see the point in including it.
With the Last of Us 2 being announced, many have decried the needlessness of a sequel. I’m going to wait to hold judgement. Naughty Dog have proven that they’re masters in their craft and if any title deserves a sequel, it’s The Last of Us.