As much as it was a huge success when it was originally released, The Last Of Us is like a fine wine. It ages well, and it stands the test of time: its flavor becoming more robust as time passes. Bringing the same graphical power to the Playstation 4 that it had on the previous console, but redefining them with sharper and cleaner textures, cleaning up many of glitches, and adding tighter gameplay. Of course, as with all other video games, nothing is perfect. There can never be a truly flawless game. But, instead of focusing on the negatives, let’s bring to light what The Last of Us actually manages to pull off flawlessly.
As far as character development goes, the Naughty Dog team knew full and well that your character – Joel, played by the marvelous Troy Baker – is not a hero. He is a man, as breakable and fragile as the rest of us. He has suffered hardships, which add depth and realism to his scars in a way that would make any hardened action hero blush with shame. Over the course of the game, you learn specifically how selfish Joel is to avoid hardship, and how the prospect of smuggling a young girl across the country is more of a burden than a gift. Eventually, you see his wounds ripped open, to bleed fresh, as he faces his demons in a way most video game protagonists cannot handle. Don’t get me wrong, he is not a bad guy, but the old, loving kind Joel is buried underneath violence and loss.
The world of the game is truly a lifeless one. But in having no life, it bleeds artistic, yet haunting atmosphere. Every building is a decadent ruin of what was, ghosts left behind, with nothing but bodies, hollowed out skeletons, clutching documents about how everything went wrong in the blink of an eye. It’s a haunting mirror of what our own society can become at any moment, a testament to loss, sadness, sacrifice, and pain. The Last Of Us truly inspires fear in a such a way that hits your heart. Many times, I found myself scrounging for supplies and ammo desperately, only to have a memory surface from my childhood. Abandoned homes are aesthetic to the point that, even if you have never been there, you feel as if you know the home like the back of your hand. Buildings that once towered and gleamed in the sky are now rotting shells, left to mother nature and the infected.
The Last Of Us harkens back to the days of true survival horror where every round counts. Finding yourself staring down the barrel of a rifle with no ammo as enemies twist and sprint wildly towards you is truly tense and unnerving. Melee weapons break after a handful of strikes, and sometimes, your fists can place you in even greater danger, forcing you into rough, button mashing grapples, where one slip means an instant death. The Last Of Us is unforgiving in its combat on harder difficulties, but playing through on the easier modes is just as much of a challenge. The infected are always faster than your aim. A special breed of blind infected, call Clickers, fill the air with horrifying Ju-On/Grudge imitation throat noises, forcing you into uncomfortable and unnerving stealth sequences. Human opponents can unload rifles on you in the blink of an eye, and the world is aged to the point where cover crumbles easily after a few well aimed rounds, both for you and the other scavengers you encounter.
Overall, The Last Of Us truly is a refreshing, albeit horrifying glimpse into a potential plant-zombie hybrid future, where hope balances on a thin line and a handful of bullets. If your looking for more drama and heart in your zombies, than just mindless slaughter and action, look no further than this one. You will cry, you will laugh, but you will also be amazed at the integrity of the human heart and body, if only you survive to be one of The Last Of Us.