Try-It Tuesday: THE LAST OF US

THE LAST OF US is an incredibly popular action-adventure survival horror game developed by Naughty Dog (who’s also behind the Uncharted franchise) and published by Sony Computer Entertainment as a PlayStation 3 exclusive in 2013.

I downloaded the remastered version, free via PlayStation Plus in October 2019, to give this highly-acclaimed, multiple award winning game a try.

THE LAST OF US is a post-apocalyptic game in which Tess, Joel and Ellie make their way across a ruined Boston wasteland where spores and desperation turn people into monsters.

I’ve nothing against linear storytelling. BioShock, Dishonored and God of War are some of my favorite games of all time. But their balance of activity and story exposition work for me. THE LAST OF US didn’t work for me.

If you watch my video thinking, “this seems pretty exciting,” just keep in mind that I cut two and a half hours of walking, talking and climbing. THE LAST OF US is a veeeeeery slow train chugging through a bleak gray landscape with a handful of boring passengers.

There aren’t many choices in THE LAST OF US, beyond a few decisions like “do I use my alcohol to make a molotov or a health pack?” or “should I whack him with this pipe that will disappear after five hits or use my limited ammo?” Other linear, character-driven, cinematic video games like Beyond: Two Souls (also from 2013), offer better pacing and dialog options that actually affect gameplay.

People say “but the story is good.” Maybe I didn’t play long enough to mosey slowly into the interesting scenes. Everything that happened in the first four hours of THE LAST OF US seemed to be some version of:

Lonely guitar riff: Bow-wow-wow

(Characters shuffle into a room)

Tess: I’m mad, you know that?

Joel (gruffly): Y’all know I’m from Texas? Yeehaw or somethin’.
I jus’ don’ see why we shud be doin’ whut we’re doin’.

Tess: We have to. Let’s get going.

Joel: Yes, ma’am

Lonely guitar riff: Bow-wow-wow

(Slow pan to the skyline)

An older father figure escorting a special young woman is the premise of another 2013 game, BioShock: Infinite, where the protagonist, Booker, is also voiced by Troy Baker. Didn’t care for that game, either. Maybe I don’t like father/daughter games? But, I loved BioShock 2.

THE LAST OF US is rated “M” for mature audiences due to blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes and strong language.

~ J.L. Hilton

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