Video games offer us a form of virtual reality that allows us to relax, make friends or enemies, save or destroy entire universes; or if it floats your boat, race around fantastical environments, while dressed up as an annoyed mushroom (Mario Kart, I’m looking at you!). We do all of this without having to face any consequences in real life; unless of course, you’re a thirteen year old, with anger issues, playing an online first-person shooter. Seriously though, you rarely find games that leave you tense or biting your nails because you don’t want to make the wrong choice, as the consequences both good and bad, are very likely to leave an emotional imprint on you.
Naughty Dog hit the nail right on the head with The Last of Us™. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic America, after an outbreak of a mutated Cordyceps fungus that invades human cells and grows within or over them, virtually destroying civilization. The stellar narrative, along with intense, yet seamless gameplay, creates one of the best gaming experiences you will ever encounter. The game focuses on two central characters, Joel and Ellie, their mission, the losses they face, the sacrifices they are forced to make and the fascinating, but terrifying dangers they face.
The Last of Us places high emphasis on survival, and this normally comes at the expense of someone else, further echoing the choices that one has to make to survive in such a harsh environment. Joel, a smuggler, in his late 40s/early 50s, is haunted by his past. Ellie, a naïve teenager, whose shoulders hold more wisdom than most of her age, holds the key to possibly saving humanity from its current predicament. Both Joel and Ellie are presented as characters many of us can relate to. The portrayal of these two characters is made even more realistic by some of the best motion capture and voice-over performances to date.
The game mechanics are laid out in a simple, easy to learn manner, and focuses primarily on stealth gameplay, although sometimes running in and throwing a few Molotov cocktails just for the heck of it, is quite a fun thing to do. The game possesses a well-developed crafting system that allows you to upgrade your abilities and tools, thereby making survival an easier task. Don’t be fooled though, surviving encounters with the different enemies, namely the infected ‘clickers’, ‘runners’, ‘stalkers’ and ‘bloaters’, and even the merciless, cannibalistic human faction known as the ‘hunters’, is no mean feat, and requires a certain level of planning and skill.
By mixing together a beautiful soundtrack composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, some of the best in-game graphics of this generation of consoles, and a story that is rivalled only by Bioshock: Infinite, Naughty Dog has produced a masterpiece of a game that will stand the test of time as one of the greatest games ever to have graced this generation, and those to come.
Review Score: 5/5.