The Last of Us has been the talk of the town, or more appropriately, the QZ, for almost a decade now. When the game first came out in 2013, it quickly became a gamer favorite, and now, with its TV show, it is championing hearts all over again.
The success of The Last of Us season 1 has ensured the production and release of its second season. The Last of Us franchise has proven itself to be a masterpiece in the realms of console gaming and television shows.
The game was redefining limits in terms of presenting a story, vibrant graphics, etc. On the other hand, the show is carried superbly by its state-of-the-art CGI and charismatic acting performances by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. (BEWARE! MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!)
Beginning of Joel and Ellie’s Journey
Naughty Dog and Sony Computer Entertainment released The Last of Us in 2013 on Playstation 3 as an action-adventure game. Behold! Naughty Dog introduced the world to the heart-moving journey of Joel and Ellie.
A common question regarding The Last of Us is, “what’s so special about a zombie apocalypse?” or “how is this game any different than The Walking Dead or Resident Evil, even Plants vs Zombies?” The same doubts and concerns arose in the brains of TV show enthusiasts when the game’s adaptation was first announced.
However, like the game, The Last of Us TV show was quick to deconstruct all these naysayers. It is a heart-wrenching story of heartbreak and loss, a moving story of love and devotion, and a strengthening of hope and strong will.
On to the Big Screen
The critical acclaim of the games, and maybe the recent events of a global pandemic, convinced creative heads at HBO to adapt The Last of Us into a television series. Craig Mazin, the creator of the infamous TV show Chernobyl, has supervised the show’s development and the game’s original creative mastermind, Neil Druckmann. Since the first episode aired, the show has been the talk of the masses. The wide viewership didn’t stop there. HBO reported a 22% rise in viewership in episode 2, with an awestriking 5.7 million viewers.
The Last of Us has taken over Sundays for good. Each episode has masterfully adapted the game by staying true to the original material and creatively expanding on aspects that the game did not cater to, for example, delving into the backstory of Bill and Frank in episode 3.
Indeed, the show shouldn’t be given credit for presenting an amazingly holistic story; however, credit must be given where it’s due. Hollywood is known for rarely getting adaptations right. Thankfully, The Last of Us is one of those rare circumstances. The show creatively borrows dialogues, shots, and action sequences that have been fan favorites since 2013.
Moreover, the show is technically amazing as well. Firstly, the development of a post-zombie apocalypse world and superbly beautiful cinematography make the show a treat for the eye. Episode 1 opens with a flashback scene of a group of scientists conversing about the possibilities of zombie fungi surviving in a human host.
This scientific explanation grabs the viewer’s attention from the get-go in an extremely haunting manner. Afterward, seeing the charismatic Pedro Pascal as the fan favorite Joel, viewers couldn’t help but be enthralled by the heart-touching performance. Moreover, all the pain, loss, hurt, love, and hope are accurately composed within its soundtracks, which makes the viewer feel like they’re there.
Lastly, the aspect that makes the show truly one of the best is the acting. Pedro Pascal, known for his roles in The Game of Thrones and The Mandalorian, plays Joel. Bella Ramsey, who has also starred in Game of Thrones, has played Ellie. The on-screen chemistry between these two doubles the experience for the audience.
However, it is important to note that much of the show’s success is directly borrowed from the original source: the PlayStation 3 game. What makes the game so good?
The Last of Us was a groundbreaking game of its time. It redefined the limits of gaming on several technical aspects.
- Story mode: The Last of Us is arguably the first game to present an actual, interactive story. The story was superb, from plot arcs to character development and dialogues. Players play through a character named Joel through his journey in a post-apocalyptic world.
All the characters, from protagonists to antagonists to side characters that appear for a short time, are created with depth that makes the characters feel more than just animated humans on a screen.
- Graphics: In 2013, The Last of Us achieved a milestone that most games at the time couldn’t. The graphics were flowy and vibrant, which caught the viewers’ eyes. The team at Naughty Dog developed a facial recognition system that allowed the characters to emote and express themselves in a much more humane way.
- Gameplay: The game’s captivating story and crisp graphics came together to provide an enhanced gameplay experience. Naughty Dog ensures that it offers a state-of-the-art experience for its players while playing and during the cutscenes that come between objective missions.
The game revolves around adventurous and action-packed objective missions. Joel and Ellie encounter zombies, raiders, and human antagonists. It was impressive how humans were the main antagonists in a zombie game.
Moreover, The Last of Us enhanced gameplay by having several types of zombies. Players have to be quick to avoid the Runners. They have to be stealthy for Clickers and strategic for Brutes.
Moreover, the animators at Naughty Dog also ensured they spent time making good cutscenes. They were rich in colors paired with fantastic cinematography, superbly written dialogues to develop characters, and ensuring the players didn’t skip through.
The Last of Us uses its excellent plot and the maestros at Naughty Dog to develop a game that feels like a movie or TV show you can interact with.
In 2014, Naughty Dog released a remastered version of the game for PlayStation 4. The remastered version offered more refined graphics, and the DLC built within. So the players won’t have to buy it separately to experience Ellie’s backstory.
The game’s wide critical acclaim allowed Sony and Naughty Dog to develop The Last of Us 2, which will be released in 2020.
The Last of Us 2 gained the same love and respect as its predecessor. It ensured that it coherently pushed forward the unique story it started in part 1.
Many players were upset about the deaths of certain characters, but no one could say that they felt it was wrong.
Graphics were once again groundbreaking for their time. The gameplay was interactive and catchy for several reasons;
- Stealthy gameplay: Many players loved the increased stealth gameplay within the game. It allowed for a different and new take on zombie games that are usually haphazard and chaotic.
- Increased variety of enemies: The game felt much more multi-dimensional due to the several types of enemies. Besides various kinds of zombies, such as Runners and Clickers, the game also had different human antagonists. This allowed players to stay entertained and be more interested.
- Smarter AI: The Naughty Dog programmers ensured the game didn’t feel stiff and blocky. Through innovative additions to AI, they made characters more human-like and enhanced gameplay.
- Multiple playable characters: The Last of Us 2 allowed its players to play various characters throughout its duration. This made the game a lot more interesting. Players play through characters at different places throughout the game and get to meet at the end.
The Last of Us 2 was considered for Game of the Year in 2020, and rightfully so.
The finale will be airing on Sunday, 12th March, on HBOMax. After a truly emotional journey of eight episodes, fans are eager to experience the end of it all. Episode 8 left the audience with an injured Joel consoling Ellie, who was covered in the blood of a cannibal.
What happens from here? Does Joel make it through his injury? Do they find the Fireflies? All these questions will be answered on Sunday.
Is this the end for Joel and Ellie? No, HBO has confirmed a bonus episode to air after the finale and a season 2, which will tell the story of Eliie from the second installment of the game. The Journey of Ellie to develop a cure against cordyceps continues.