The Last of Us Review

Lauren Miller, Writer

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It is amazing how fictional stories can have such an impact on us–sparking emotions that are often hidden deep inside. The Last of Us is one such game that manages to produce a heart-wrenching, tear-inducing reaction from audiences, and deservedly so.

The game was first released for PS3 on June 14, 2013. It went on to win multiple awards after earning an outstanding score of 95/100 on Metacritic. It is the fifth highest rated game on this site. The game won 260 awards at the Game of the Year Awards, in addition to the title of “Best PlayStation Game” by GameSpot, GameTrailers, Hardcore Gamer, and IGN. The lead voice and motion capture actors, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, also received several awards for their performances.

One must understand the game’s plot to understand the high praise from critics. The game follows Joel, a middle-aged man who has become hardened and sullen after a deadly virus sweeps the nation. After the death of his daughter in the game’s opening moments, the player feels the pain of his loss. This tragedy follows Joel through the rest of the story and gives the audience an emotional attachment to him. It is impossible not to root for Joel, even when he is forced to partake in cruel acts of violence. This violence works in perfect unison with the desolate, ravaged world Joel occupies. The gamemakers produced an atmosphere of both savagery and desperation, mixing in a faint glimmer of hope. It is this connection to the past world–unbroken and untouched–that propels Joel on his journey.

The story would not be complete without Ellie, the fourteen-year old NPC. Ellie’s immunity to the deadly virus might provide basis for the story, but it is Ellie’s quick wit and sarcastic humor that plays so well. Ellie’s personality is a perfect example of the hope Joel needs since his daughter’s passing. It also provides the stories’ emotional core.

The relationship between Joel and Ellie is progressive, and looking at the game in its entirety, one can see the unbreakable bond formed between the two characters. Ellie acts as Joel’s surrogate daughter, and by game’s end, the player truly understands how desperate and protective Joel is. His last choice has often been described as selfish. However, it is this selfishness that plays so well with Joel’s character and his silent vow to avoid past mistakes.

Visually, the game is stunning. Light and shadows are used to paint intriguing landscapes that one cannot help but explore. The game mechanics are also on parr, with stealth and combat options that spark a perfect mix of superiority and fear in players. The enemies–whether they be diseased, zombie-like creatures or fellow survivors–always feel real and dimensional.

Playing The Last of Us is unlike playing any other game. Fun is not an accurate word to describe the experience. The story is immersive and the combat is engaging. But the relationship forged between Joel and Ellie will keep players on the edge of their seats, even long after the credits have rolled.

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