You HAVE to play 'The Last of Us'

By Matthew Smith

By Matthew Smith

Welcome back to “You HAVE to Play This,” the blog where I talk about a video game you HAVE to play each week. In honour of the return of Rick Grimes and Michonne in “The Ones Who Lived: Walking Dead” and of Pedro Pascal recently winning a ‘Screen Actors Guild award’ for best male performance in a drama for the show “The Last of Us,” I’ve decided since I’m in my ‘zombie apocalypse vibes’ to talk about and hopefully introduce to some the game “The Last of Us” -yes that’s right it was initially made as a video game. Developed by Naughty Dog and first released in 2013, this game has become a cultural phenomenon praised for its storytelling, game design, and emotional depth. It’s an experience that immerses you in a post-apocalyptic world and challenges you with difficult questions while making you feel deeply for its characters. 

A Gripping Narrative 

At its core, “The Last of Us” is a narrative masterpiece. The story follows Joel and Ellie, two unlikely partners thrown together by fate and must journey across the United States in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by a fungal infection. The game explores themes of loss, survival, hope, and human relationships in a way that will leave you emotionally invested and deeply moved. 

Emotionally Compelling Characters 

What makes “The Last of Us” so special is how it immerses players in its world and makes them feel like they are part of the story. Joel and Ellie are not just characters but people with flaws, emotions, and relatable experiences. The voice actors for Joel and Ellie and the script are excellent, and the characters’ relationship evolves in a way that is both heartwarming and heart-wrenching. Of course, I must thank Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie) for bringing these characters to life and delivering a fantastic performance.

Stunning Visuals and Sound Design 

The game’s breathtaking visuals and sound design add to the immersive experience. Zombies have unique and horrifying designs, from standard-looking zombies called ‘runners’ who have only been infected for a short time to ‘clickers’ who have gone blind because the long duration of the fungal infection has rendered their faces horrific-looking and unable to see. However, watch out for the 8-foot-tall ‘bloaters’ who get your heart pumping. These once innocent human beings turned into monsters have been infected the longest and are riddled with fungal infections all over their body. The visuals are stunning, but the sound design of these zombies is on par as well; from screams to quiet clicker sounds, my advice is don’t play this game alone in the dark at home. The post-apocalyptic landscapes are beautiful and haunting; every environment tells a story. The music by Gustavo Santaolalla is evocative and enhances the narrative’s emotional weight and the gameplay’s tension. 

Innovative Gameplay 

While the narrative and characters are the game’s most vital points, the gameplay is equally impressive. It balances moments of high tension and action with quiet exploration and puzzle-solving. The combat is brutal and unforgiving, emphasizing the game’s themes of survival and sacrifice. The game uses cut cameras and tight and close-up shots of on-screen characters to showcase their facial expressions when fighting. The same goes for when you die; the camera will zoom in on the dead characters to emphasize the gory and intimate details. Stealth is crucial, and managing scarce resources makes every encounter a thrilling exercise in strategy and improvisation.

A Cultural Phenomenon

 “The Last of Us” has influenced gaming and popular culture in many ways. It has inspired a successful sequel, “The Last of Us Part II,” and adaptations into other media, including an award-winning television series. Its influence can be seen in the storytelling and design of subsequent video games and discussions about the potential of video games as a form of narrative art.

In Conclusion

 “The Last of Us” is more than just a game; it’s a masterpiece that exemplifies what video games can be best. It challenges players to confront difficult questions, to feel deeply for its characters, and to consider the lengths to which we go for the ones we care about. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or new to the medium, “The Last of Us” is a must-play experience you won’t forget. 

Posted in Blog and tagged .