|The Last of Us|
|Genre: Thriller | Survival Horror|
|Developer: Naughty Dog|
The story of The Last of Us is not something we have not heard before, outbreak of something unexpected causes humans to become feral and attack other humans, if bitten they also become “infected” and change into the same thing that got them and the cycle is repeated. Now the first thought would be zombies but Naughty Dog have made it very clear the game is not another zombie game and the enemies within are not the undead horde. This game takes a very different direction to the post-apocalyptic games we have seen in abundance recently.
You play as Joel, a tired and rough around the edges man, who does the odd jobs around the quarantine zone to keep on living. He has seen the world both before and after the outbreak and along with the hardships of his past has done what he has had to, to survive. This has in turn made him emotionally closed off, practical and blunt.
For reasons we won’t spoil, Joel has come into contact with a young girl called Ellie who was born after the outbreak and has the complete opposite outlook on her life and the world around her. Without the knowledge of the world before, the world to her is nothing new which gives her a spirited and vocal approach to everything around her with a childlike enthusiasm and interest.
Their journey is what makes the game something to remember, they are two complete opposite forces together in a unrelenting world. Joel sees Ellie as a burden and Ellie sees him as a stranger just taking her to her destination. The changes in their speech, language and interaction grow throughout the game, seeing the natural curve of this makes it feel very real. As their relationship starts to evolve Joel begins to take a liking to Ellie and he responds more about the world before the outbreak which Ellie is so fascinated with.
The one thing to note is that throughout the game both characters are very believable, you don’t really see them as digital being but more like real humans. They have their quirks, their good and bad points but they also grow and develop around you as you play the game. This gives a great sense of realness while you are playing which really hits home hard in the tense moments of the game. Playing The Last of Us, I never felt like I was Joel but more like I was watching his and Ellie’s journey over his shoulder, seeing their struggle in this harsh and brutal world. Even when you expect the worse sometimes the game can take you by surprise, in particular the use of silence in the game is done flawlessly. Years of predictable game play goes out the window, you never truly know when The Last of Us world is going to bite and this makes it terrifying yet beautiful and alive.
The infected are everywhere to be seen and heard, they have taken over the deserted ruins of the previous world. They are the human who have been consumed by a parasitic virus that causes them to sprout gruesome fungus and turn them into feral beings with no human remorse. As with most post-apocalyptic worlds they are not the only threat and sometimes not the most dangerous, humans that use the chaos and terror roam the wastelands as bandits and kill those they come across to take their supplies and camps. Even with this amount of devastation and madness Joel and Ellie do still have a few allies they can rely on but most strangers are seen as enemies; its kill or be killed.
Joel has seen many battles and can handle himself quite well in a fight but he is not immortal. Combat is something you will probably try to avoid most of the time unless you have a massive excess of ammo and resources and the number of enemies is not too high but these situations are rare. Combat is something that you have to always have to adapt to whether it is sneaking around taking enemies out quickly and quietly, attacking head on or even fleeing past the fights all together. Sometimes strategies you take might work in one situation but they surely won’t work all the time keeping the fights fresh and different but also makes them very challenging at time. Personally the difficult battles and my countless death were some of the best parts of the game. Being able to see where you went wrong and trying different tactics gave the game depth and made it frustratingly fun. Some will find this too much and might quit out of frustration and even on normal it is quite challenging.
Fighting is very dark and downright brutal; you feel every punch and see the force in every swing of Joel’s weapon as he smashes the head of an infected or bandit. However the violence never feels good or enjoyable but does play a massive part in the culture and attitude of The Last of Us world. You must do what it takes to survive even when it’s Joel grabbing someone round the head and smashing them head-first into the corner of a wall. Every fight feels like it’s to the death but something that was never chosen out of excitement or choice.
Different infected require different tactics and they require a completely different strategies overall to humans. They are quicker, relentless and unpredictable which makes them a serious threat and some infected like the Clickers have an annoying attack which is mostly unstoppable and will kill in one hit if you do not have the right tools. This can be overly frustrating as resources are limited and Clickers are plenty, meaning you can find yourself reloading the checkpoint over and over again to try and get past this over powered mini cut scene mishap.
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