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  • Michelle Khachatryan

Why You Should Watch— And Play "The Last of Us"

The Last of Us HBO series is the definition of a copy and paste from the Naughty Dog video game that I deeply involved myself in during the Covid lockdowns. It becomes a rare occasion where a video game can depict how loss and revenge tear at the heart of our two beloved characters, Ellie, a young girl who is immune from the disease, and Joel, a mercenary and smuggler who's desperate to reunite with his lost brother after the disease-driven world forced them apart. Neil Druckmann has successfully captured raw human connection in the pixels and has been able to impact so many individuals over this story. It's always a hesitant move when creating adaptations of culturally significant media like The Last of Us. Yet, it became a perfect representation, and I mean perfect, that certain easter eggs within the game have been highlighted and even explored in depth upon the characters. Bill and Frank's storyline was explored further in the television adaptation, adding an exciting and heartfelt meaning to how individuals have survived other than rough and violent gameplay. It’s important to showcase LGBTQ media representation in popular forms like video games and television, and Naughty Dog and HBO take the clean sweep for this prize.

The Last of Us follows a story of a man named Joel whose task is to travel across the destroyed United States with a young girl named Ellie to deliver her to a group of revolution-seeking doctors and educators called the Fireflies, whose means are to harvest the virus out of her to create a vaccine to heal the world. As the game fast forwards to 10 years later, as the apocalypse and the cordyceps fungal disease have advanced and wiped out the majority of the population, Joel is stuck in one of the FEDRA-bases in Boston, Massachusetts, the government-issued version of marshall law that has resorted to rations and strict quarantine laws for the inhabited individuals. As the rise of the resistance fighters against FEDRA, known as the fireflies, has impacted Boston deeply and taken control of the state, a distant friend of Joel, who is an emerging leader of the resistance groups, has asked him to smuggle a girl across the United States to Colorado in exchange for a car battery. Without any further details, a night into escaping the FEDRA quarantine zone, Joel realizes that Ellie has a weeks-old bite mark on her arm. The disease spreads, and an individual becomes bitten and eventually becomes "infected," which is another way similar to the Walking Dead avoiding the term "zombies." The fungal infection takes over the body, and the infection forms in different ways after some time.

The Last of Us has become one of the best video game to television/film adaptations, with 8.1 million viewership and overall 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Compared to other Naughty Dog adaptations like Uncharted, The Last of Us set design, storytelling, and cast top overall on its comparison to Uncharted or Resident Evil, another popular horror video game, on how the production has played close attention to detail and expanded further on characters' backgrounds and extra storylines that gives more emphasis on how the disease impacts the population.

Although the game and the show are inherently violent, like many first-person shooter video games, the plotline in The Last of Us is more focused on interpersonal relationships, like the familial development between the two unrelated characters, Ellie and Joel. The game touches on important constructs like revenge, grief, love, and fate within The Last of Us world. Most of the playable parts in

the game are quality combat and stealth missions that are heavily detailed and exhilarating to play. Still, the most memorable part of the game is the dramatic cut scenes that help the audience relate to the characters more instead of placeholders for weapons. The Last of Us should get the world excited about how game design and production have evolved, and everyone should pay close attention to essential storylines like The Last of Us.


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