The Last of Us, Parts I & II

As the HBO show of The Last of Us started rolling out, I figured I’d replay the games to refresh my memoryn.

I remember getting stuck early in the first game and walking away, letting it gather dust for years. I picked it back up as the sequel was released and somehow grokked the mechanics and powered through to the end. This is likely a good moment to reveal the game has a large stealth component that favors patience. It’s also about resource management and crafting types of ammo for taking down enemies, both human and zombie.

Admission: I’ve super enjoyed every game developer Naughty Game has made, starting with Crash Bandicoot on the original Playstation, Jak & Daxter, The Uncharted series and all the sequels that stemmed from each. The former two were well polished platformers while Uncharted elevated action games to movie levels of story and finesse. Uncharted changed how games are presented and unfold.

The Last of Us games built upon that framework and added heavy moral dilemma. The first game is a punch to the gut, the second game beats dilemma to a pulp—it’s complex, unforgiving and a case study on empathy (or the lack thereof.)

I am almost remiss to call these games favorites, but they are among the finest examples of elevating video games to an art form capable of eliciting the strongest of emotions. Emotions that go beyond watching something on a screen, but go deeper for you are controlling the actors.

Screencap of video game. Two characters look out over a city in ruins with giraffes foraging
Screen cap of a videogame. Third person view of a character overlooking a city on fire