It is no secret that “The Last of Us” is a hit among gamers and storytellers alike.
Not too long ago the game was given the highly earned title “Game of the Decade” but why I hear you ask? Strap in ladies and gents, this is gonna be a long one.
It’s no lie that the gaming developers and writers at Naughty Dog are absolute geniuses, creating beautiful stories and visual masterpieces for the player, making each game more and more replayable. The Last of Us definitely one of those games.
The story is what you call a tragic tale, not just for our main protagonist; Joel, but for everyone facing this apocalyptic world. Having what is known as “normal” normal car, normal job, normal life; stripped away in the blink of an eye is something terrifying. Neil Druckmann and the team did a fantastic job of making the first moments of the outbreak, a cinematic masterpiece.
As a player having to experience playing Joel, literally holding his daughter Sarah while running through the crowds of citizens and infected people was truly gripping, as a person sitting with the controller, I remember my heart literally racing and feeling physically sick at the idea of not keeping Sarah safe, which makes the next part even more heartbreaking as the player can do absolutely nothing to save her.
This is an absolutely perfect time to take a moment to talk about the acting; Troy Baker who takes on the role as Joel, broke my heart, I remember not just crying but hyperventilating over watching Joel hold just daughter as she passes away, hearing him cry and literally scream out, shook me up and changed my views as a gamer when I first sat down I just wanted to play the game and see what the hype was about, I didn’t think I would be so sucked into a story the way I was. Massive hand to Troy Baker and Hana Hayes’ outstanding acting during this scene.
Joel Miller is a man haunted by his past, the loss of his daughter still terrorises him even twenty years later (where the game inevitably kicks off) he is strong and vigilant. Upon meeting Ellie for the first time the pair immediately don’t get along, Joel just sees her as cargo that needs to be delivered and does not see a need to be emotionally involved. Ellie is a fourteen-year-old girl who was born into the outbreak and is yet to see the outside world. She is feisty and quick on her feet, while Joel just sees the world for what it is, the place that has taken everything he loved from him.
Having these two very strong characters thrown together brings the player to an intriguing and challenging journey, as the pair travels through post-apocalyptic America, having to face zombies, known as “clickers” in this world, being infected by the outbreak that started the whole game off. It isn’t just Clickers and other infected beings that the pair must avoid and protect each other from. Later in the game, we meet “hunters” a team of survivors, who will kill anything in sight to retrieve things such as food and supplies, they are ruthless and take no prisoners. But that’s not the worst things the duo have to face…
David is the main antagonist of the game, the leader of a team of cannibals in Colorado, he and Ellie cross paths while hunting for food. After discovering that Ellie and Joel are the people that have killed multiple of his men, he shows his true colours and Ellie sees his true nature. Nolan North does an outstanding job of creating a creepy and skin-crawling villain, I remember playing the game after finishing the entire “Uncharted” series. After playing as such a hilarious and quick-witted person such as Nathan Drake seeing North completely turn the tables and turn into such a scary character really made me appreciate the man’s acting ability. Obviously everything kicks off and Joel must fight through a huge pack of cannibals to save Ellie. This is when the player finally sees the real fear in Joel, not wanting to see history repeat itself, he knows Ellie is not his daughter, he doesn’t want her to be. She is someone he loves and must protect.
Seeing Ellie and Joel’s relationship and trust grow is something amazing to behold. As a player, I was getting used to the brutal gameplay and gruesome graphics. You would think that the relationship was something more in the background.. it wasn’t, Ellie is always on hand to help Joel when things got complicated, while you are literally fighting your way through many threats you always had Ellie on side to help take them down. I love the relationship and the way it evolved. The acting and chemistry between Baker and Johnson was absolutely electric, the relationship between Joel and Ellie was so believable. I don’t think I’ve ever been so drawn to a duo like this (sorry Nate and Sully)
If you are yet to play the game or just want to see what the fuss is all about, I recommend watching the definitive playthrough with Nolan North and Troy Baker on their YouTube Channel Retro Replay, in this video they have the wonderful Hana Hayes who plays Sarah, Joel’s daughter.
Once again the team at Naughty Dog have truly outdone themselves with this masterpiece, from the beautiful story to the intense and personal gameplay. There really is no lie that this game earned the title “Game of the Decade” and with The Last of Us Part 2 release date revealed and teasers and trailers being gratefully received by die-hard fans all around the globe. Bring on May 29th 2020!