In a previous post, I advised that playing a video game today, particularly within the action-adventure genre, is like playing an interactive movie. The visual art, gameplay mechanics, character designs, storyline, and soundtrack offers a unique experience for the player that no other medium can top. And in my subjective opinion, the game that knocked all of those elements out of the park was The Last of Us.
Developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, The Last of Us is an action-adventure survival horror game that takes place in a post-apocalyptic America, twenty years after a cordyceps virus spreads across the country. Living in a heavily policed quarantine zone, Joel Miller is asked to smuggle a 14-year-old girl, Ellie, to a rebel militia known as the Fireflies. The Fireflies are in search of a cure for the virus, with the hope of bringing back civility to a society full of infected (zombies), dangerous factions, and scarce resources. The journey to the Fireflies is anything but smooth, and it pushes Joel and Ellie to their limits in more ways than one.
Among purchasing The Last of Us, I was heavily invested in The Walking Dead series. So zombies in video games were an added bonus to the culture. But it wasn’t until my second or third playthrough that I realized how great the game was. Its fluid yet realistic mechanics, graphics, and music were an afterthought to the game’s true gem: its story.
The father-daughter dynamic in storytelling, without effort, magnifies the strength and suppressed vulnerability in men. Although Ellie wasn’t Joel’s biological daughter, his soft spot for her intensified in the way any father would as the story progressed. This left gamers, like myself, in awe at how a deadly environment could become nothing but a backdrop to the relationship between these two characters.
The success of The Last of Us ushered in a sequel, The Last of Us Part 2.
Occurring five years after the events from the first game, The Last of Us Part 2 follows Joel and a young adult Ellie who have now settled in Jackson, Wyoming. They’ve experienced relative peace amongst a thriving community of survivors, but all of that changes after a traumatizing event occurs. Now on a quest for revenge and retribution, Ellie seeks to hunt down all of those responsible, one by one.
Part 2 of The Last of Us was one of the most highly-anticipated and controversial games in 2020. Due to the social/political messages in the game, many critics overlooked the breathtaking scenery, gameplay, and acting that took this franchise to the next level. It’s a great game, but like the first, I didn’t realize how great it was until my second playthrough.
The Last of Us Part 2 received the Ultimate Game of the Year award at the Golden Joystick Awards 2020. Naughty Dog also received the awards for Best Audio, Best Storytelling, Best Visual Design, and Playstation Game of the Year.
An HBO television series is currently in the works, but fans like myself will not be satisfied unless the creators close out Joel and Ellie’s story with a third game. The events that took place in Part 2 does leave the window open for Part 3, and Ellie’s arc, in particular, has to come full circle for the story to be complete.
Hopefully, this comes to fruition.
Until Next Time…
Photo Credit: Youtube
Jones, A. (2020, November 25). The Last of Us 2 Wins Ultimate Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards. Retrieved December 09, 2020, from https://www.gamesradar.com/the-last-of-us-2-wins-ultimate-game-of-the-year-at-the-golden-joystick-awards/
Russell, B. (2020, November 21). The Last of Us HBO TV series: Everything we know so far. Retrieved December 09, 2020, from https://www.gamesradar.com/the-last-of-us-hbo-series-release-date-cast-trailer/