OK, so The Last of Us is pretty amazing, and I think everyone needs to play it.
This isn't a review of the game, it'll be shorter and less critical than anything like that, it's more just me gushing about my experience and feelings about how much I love it. Prior warning, there'll be spoilers in here, so if in fact I'm not the last remaining person on Earth to play The Last of Us, and perhaps you are, you may want to stop reading.
I wrote about my first impressions of the game a few weeks ago, and my bid to make it as much of a spoiler-free experience as possible. I'd held out for over a year to actually play it, as I hadn't owned a Sony console for quite a few years until recently.
Initially I was struck by the game's cinematic quality, how it felt very much like a movie, and the first chapter where you're running through the streets with your daughter and brother, ended in quite an unexpected way. It was definitely emotional, and set up the tone of the game really well. I was in for quite a grim ride.
Gameplay-wise The Last of Us is almost flawless. The desparate scramble to find supplies scattered about the game to make your seemingly-futile journey a little less pointless is executed well. The gunplay and combat feel tense, and you're very much subject to easily being killed by any of the human or infected enemies you face. The way the aiming reticule sways and bobs early on as you try to take aim is an extra challenge, so a stealth option usually seems the best way to take out an enemy.
Thinking back, one of the only glaring issues I really had with The Last of Us was its AI, particularly members of my party. There were quite a few instances early on, especially in the first Clicker encounters, where Tess and Ellie would run about aimlessly trying to find cover, as I was trying my best to stay as silent as possible so a Clicker wouldn't use my neck as a chew toy. Thankfully the ladies' ridiculous stealth attempts didn't alert any of the infected, but that only did so much as to pull me out of the whole experience I was so deeply engrossed in. Thankfully these issues seemed to disappear later on in the game.
The whole experience panged of desperation. There was always this sense of fear, dread, and tensity in whatever part of the game I was playing, and when I got through one section I'd feel a brief moment of relief until the next seemingly-impossible obstacle presented itself.
A big part of the game for me, and I imagine many others peoples' too, is the relationship development between Joel and Ellie. First starting off not really being too warm to eachother, forced into a situation neither of them expected or wanted, and throughout the game seeing their bond grow as they overcome challenge after impossible challenge. It was something I'll remember for a long time. I felt like I was going through it with them.
By the end of the game the bond the two characters had built was unbreakable. The first time I got to control Ellie after Joel suffered that metal spike through his torso really showed how determined and dedicated she was, and that now she'd do anything for Joel. And vice versa by the very end of the whole journey.
I could probably go on about The Last of Us forever and a day. I absolutely love this game, not just for the fact it's incredibly well-made, looks gorgeous, and is actually fun to play despite its harrowing content, but mainly for the reason that it tapped into me emotionally, something very few games tend to do. I felt like I was there with the characters through every moment, and the twists and turns of the story had me gasping and hoping everything would be OK all the time.
After I'd finished the game I wanted more, so I jumped straight into the Left Behind DLC. I didn't know what to expect here at all, but I'm glad it did more to tell of Ellie's background, and I was over the moon when it showed me what happened whilst Joel was incapacitated after his metal spike incident.
After the DLC was done I wanted more still... so I trawled through the game's menus and discovered I could unlock all the concept art etc. So I looked through all of that, and still yearned for more. On the PS4's remastered version there's a behind-the-scenes documentary, which felt like Christmas Day when I found that.
If you've made it through to the end of me gushing about this new found love of mine, well done, it mustn't have been easy if you've not played it before. And if you have played it, hopefully you feel similar to me about this masterpiece, at least in parts. Either way, let me know your thoughts in the comments and let's wax lyrical together.
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