The Last of Us and Its Legacy

On the 4th Annual Outbreak Day of the Cordyceps Brain Infection, I provide some thoughts on the legacy of The Last of Us.

Naughty Dog released some fun merchandise this morning for Outbreak Day, which is also Joel’s birthday. A new poster (only available until Friday September 29), t-shirt, and PS4 theme for The Last of Us II is available for all fans to purchase. One of the most successful games in not just Naughty Dog history but PlayStation 3 history, The Last of Us’s legacy is more than remnants of a zombie post-apocalyptic world. The game’s riveting story of survival continues to spark discussion about the gray area of right and wrong.

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(Please note, this article contains spoilers for The Last of Us’ ending)

What elevated this game to its potential was using the zombie outbreak as a plot device versus the plot. The game could have easily been about escaping some clickers and finding a home in the mountains for refuge, but instead we have a multifaceted storyline about weighing the needs of society and the needs for yourself. Joel’s trajectory as a tragic character may be viewed as a heroic action to save Ellie from some or a selfish deed to ruin the chance of curing humanity as another. The lines blur further as Ellie never makes the decision herself, but her survival is imposed by Joel because he desires a daughter figure. True feelings come out when the zombies come out. Making choices for others, but seeing your family fall apart. The Last of Us hits the player hard with on this emotional roller coaster, and there is no right or wrong answer when faced with mortality.

This was also Naughty Dog’s first crack at a stealth-based game with limited supplies. The player must creep through warehouses and hospitals to kill zombies and other enemy factions, and one sudden movement will have all them chasing after you. God bless you if you chose Grounded mode, because I was already throwing my controller over Normal mode. The controls opened the game up to utilizing senses, especially with its listening mode to spot the infected. Engaging gameplay and the storyline to back it up make this game memorable on all accounts and the best game on PS3.

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While I embrace the sequel, I don’t find it necessary in any way. I don’t doubt they will give us another game and narrative to reflect on. Money speaks and this franchise built an incredible following so I don’t blame Naughty Dog for going in this direction. They wouldn’t have a sequel and build upon this game if it didn’t mean so much to people. The world is dull in The Last of Us, but like a firefly its presence is bright and will continue to shine for years to come.

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