If you know me or you’ve read this blog or kept up with my YouTube channel, you’d know my favorite video game series of all-time is Kingdom Hearts.
I love that series like no other and I’ll forever remain emotionally invested in its story and characters.
However, I think the overall best story of any video game I’ve ever played comes from Naughty Dog’s 2013 masterpiece: The Last of Us.
Set in a fictionalized United States, The Last of Us tells the story of a man named Joel, surviving on his own after the death of his daughter in a world where a horrific disease has caused its victims to turn into fungal-infested zombies.
After he meets a young girl named Ellie, who is immune to the disease, the pair fight their way across the United States to find a group of doctors who can help turn Ellie’s immunity into a possible cure for the disease.
Full of heart, morally ambiguous characters, factions, and true psychological studies of characters that are pushed to their limits, The Last of Us made an impact on me as a writer, gamer, and human being in general.
After HBO announced it would be turning the game into a show, I was sort of hesitant on whether or not to be excited. Given how cinematic the actual game is, I wasn’t sure the story needed revisiting as a television show.
But that changed this past week when HBO released the trailer for the show.
Scored by the eerily calm strums of Hank Williams’ Alone and Forsaken, Pedro Pascal’s Joel and Bella Ramsey’s Ellie seem to perfectly capture the atmospheric brilliance of the video game.
The Last of Us is so revered as a video game because it presents the world it takes place in as a real one. You go from Boston, to Pittsburgh, to Salt Lake City and you truly feel the emptiness of these once great American cities that have now fallen to the Cordyceps brain infection.
The characters speak to each other in a way that actual people talk to each other. It isn’t like other video games where lines of dialogue are sewn together. Characters cut each other off, they respond non-verbally, they talk over each other and react emotionally to what’s being said or what’s happening to them.
The trailer for the show appears to capture ALL of this and it has gotten my hype levels for the show, the games, and even the music all the way back up.
I’ve always sort of kept my opinion about 2020’s The Last of Us: Part II to myself because the game is quite divisive in the public sphere. I think it’s just as beautiful and outstanding as the first game and while I still dislike the choice they made with Joel in that game, I understand why they did it and why it made the story of the second game that much better in the end.
But still, the second game was more of a grim, revenge-filled game that rarely had a spark of charm and humaneness that made the first game a forever classic. I’m so excited to see how Pedro Pascal’s Joel and Bella Ramsey’s Ellie grow into the father-daughter roadtrip relationship that made the first game so damn special.
This blog is about how I’m all the way back in on the series and not how I feel about Part II, so that’s that.
So to put it all together, I’ve been listening to nothing but The Last of Us soundtrack while I type and work since this trailer came out.
Arguably the best thing about the series is its music.
Empty. Sad. Hopeless. But also, relaxing and comforting. This music is part of why the series is so impactful on me. This music puts you right into the environment of the game and as a musical backdrop, it’s arguably the best in any medium ever. Films, television, video games, etc.
So, while I wait for the show, TLOU: Part III, or whatever may come next for this series, I know I’ll be listening to the music and remembering the first time I ever played the game.
Hell, I may even sling $70 to purchase The Last of Us: Part I remastered for the PS5. While the game has already been remastered, this was the developer’s chance to give the original game the same life that the sequel had.
And apparently, it succeeded at that.
If you need calm music to listen to, need a great game to play, or want to immerse yourself into a world that, despite falling into a zombie apocalypse, is a lot more human than ours, give The Last of Us a shot.