“You’re right. You’re not my daughter- and I sure as hell ain’t your dad. And we are going our separate ways.” – Joel, The Last of US
The Last of Us
Hey there fellow survivors, now I’ve never written a blog post about a video game before, but there’s a first time for everything, I suppose! You may be wondering why I decided to write a post about this particular game. Well, let me tell you…
In my lifetime, I’ve experienced a number of stories which have completely moved me, and affected my life to varying degrees. Some of these stories have affected me through novels, movies and even, at times, video games. The Last of Us became my number one video game of all time for this reason alone, because it’s not about which platform conveys the story – it’s about the story!
The great thing about video games, when they’re done correctly with a strong narrative, they can be deeper than your favorite movie 100 times over. Why, you ask? Because the story in video games can be dozens of hours long and the detail involved in fleshing out their worlds can be vast. Not only that, but the fact that you take control of a protagonist gives you a sense of ownership over that character’s actions. It’s like living in the shoes of another human, and when that protagonist’s actions take him into morally grey areas of the human experience, it gives you perspective. Although, this is not an easy fete for most developers to achieve in a video game, but it worked magnificently here.
Shortly after the release of The Last of Us back in June 2013, there were talks of the game being made into a movie in order to reach a larger audience However, the writer of the script ended up being unhappy with his finished product and it’s now forever in a writer’s Limbo. I suppose it’s not easy condensing a 40-hour narrative into 2 hours or so without sacrificing quality.
There is also a sequel on the horizon with a release date that’s yet to be announced. Most websites speculate that it should make it’s way to retail stores by the end of 2019 or maybe 2020. What a torturous hell it’s been waiting 7 years to finally see my favorite characters again.
Anyways, for those of you who don’t play video games – you may be wondering what made the story so damn enticing? Well let me give you a brief summary.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
The story begins in the aftermath of an apocalyptic zombie outbreak, except that these zombies are based on a non-traditional zombie concept. What affects these infected to behave madly is a fungus that grows on the brain of the infected human. The idea was based on a real-life fungus that effects insects in a similar way. Spores make their way inside the host, develops on the brain and affects the insects behavior, before eventually killing the host, growing a fungus plant out of it’s head, producing more spores and affecting other insects nearby. I’ve added a video down below by National Geographic if you’re interested in learning more about this kind of terror.
I digress, these zombies are slaughtering humanity. Joel, Sarah (his daughter) and Tommy (his brother) all try to leave their home and avoid the onslaught. While Joel and his brother, Tommy, did manage to make it out alive, a twist of fate stole the life of Joel’s teen aged daughter. Years pass and Joel becomes a hardened criminal and smuggler, living inside of a government controlled safe zone. The infected are still a massive threat to humanity, and government forces are in a constant state of conflict with rebel forces called “The Fireflies”. (Who are kind of the good guys)
Well, at one point Joel is tasked with the monumental task of smuggling a young girl, Ellie outside of the safe zone, through zombie infested territories and across the country for the fireflies. Ellie is around the same age that Sarah was, Joel’s daughter, before she died.
The reason for this task?
Ellie had been bitten earlier and never transformed into one of the infected. Ellie possesses an immunity to the spores and she could save the human race by producing a cure in the right hands. Joel was reluctant to take on this mission because, deep down, he was terrified to lose her like he had Sarah. In the beginning, he’s not even very kind to Ellie. He struggles to not push her away to protect himself from those intense emotions.
Over time, their bond becomes stronger and it becomes a love story between a non-paternal father and daughter. Ellie had lost her parents long ago, and she had never known the civilized world in the way that Joel had. Ellie’s curiosity and authenticity had made for some great dialogue throughout the length of the game, as she imagines what the old world must have been like. The transformation of Joel from past to present was always quite interesting as well, since his life took him down a dark path.
By the end of the story, they are inseparable companions with deep love for each other and when it comes time for Joel to make a decision that will cost either, Ellie her life or the possible future of humanity, Joel chooses to save Ellie’s life against her wishes. His love for her was so strong and passionate that he’d rather see the world burn, than lose another daughter whom he loved so damn much. The story couldn’t have ended on a more bittersweet and compelling note, and it made me furious to have to wait for more!
Have you ever read a book or watched a TV series, where the story was so good that you began to love the characters as if you had known them all your life and when that story ends, you feel lonely without them and miss them? Well, that’s what happened to me with this damn game and I replayed the heck out of it, because it was such a perfect story that I didn’t want it to leave me. Probably one of my favorite stories of all time and I’ve read a lot of classic novels!
If you were looking for a review on the game play, well, it’s also incredible and fun, but that’s not what this is about for me. In brief, ammunition is limited and horror/survival elements are abundant. You can play the game tactically and stealthily or you can play the game like a brute shooter, but it’s less fun this way. The character animations are near-flawless for a game that came out in 2013 and the remastered edition is way better.
I was also addicted to the multiplayer online portion of the game for the longest time, because it’s so different than everything else that’s on the market. It’s a slow, tactical third person shooter with survival elements and tight, small maps with strategic team play. I really don’t have anything bad to say about this game except that I wish they’d have the damn sequel released already!
Whether you’re an avid gamer, or a person who just enjoys a moving story, this game is definitely worth checking out and one that I would highly recommend. Not too many games have left me with a sense of longing, the way that I was left with a sense of longing after finishing a great classic novel like War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. This one did, though.
I’m not sure that I will continue to write about video games, but hey, it was one that I figured was worth writing about!
What do you think? Has a story ever affected you like this before?
Leave your comments down below!
Note: All images were taken from www.playstation.com