If you pay attention to gaming news you're aware of Jason Shreier's article about Sony and that a Last of Us remake is in the works.
Today, the remake of The Last of Us is being led by Naughty Dog and supported by Sony's VASG. Read the full story here: https://t.co/c5gw8WuMVy— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) April 9, 2021
A lot of virtual ink has been spilled about how it's too soon for a Last of Us remake because the old game has aged well and isn't that old to begin with, and that if Sony is going to cut back its number of games drastically people would rather see new projects, especially from a team like Naughty Dog, than old ones.
I agree with all that, but I think that beyond the fact that it's new (about the same age as Grand Theft Auto V, a game that is going to see re-release on the newest platforms rather than be remade) there are other issues with the idea of a The Last of Us Remake.
Chief among these issues is the fact that the meaning and impact of The Last of Us has changed dramatically after The Last of Us Part 2. I'm not someone who hated that game, or even the story of that game. I loved the first game and didn't love the second, but a lot of my issues with the second relate more to pacing and what felt like self-indulgence in the way the game is structured and, again, paced, than the actual content of the game. I thought it played pretty well, looked fantastic, had some decent performances, and I didn't think the story was inherently bad even if I didn't think it was as good as the first one.
But I think the second game really changes how the first one feels, and not necessarily in a good way. The second game intentionally undermines a lot of what happens in the first. That's a legitimate artistic choice, but it means that themes of the first game are blunted in certain ways. The journey means somewhat less given the actual destination. If I replayed the first game now it probably wouldn't feel that different because I already have that initial experience and I have the nostalgic attachment to that journey, but a true remake would feel very different. There are certain genies you can't put back in the bottle, and if they were going to go the direction they did in the second game, which again I think was a valid choice, they should just let what they made stand on its own.
Of course that could also mean that the remake would not be 1 to 1 and they would change certain things. I'm not just talking about mechanics, which I'm sure would be somewhat different (and I think the second game is mechanically better than the first so that would be a plus) but some of the story beats and probably some of the voice work. I think that would probably be for the worse. The Last of Us is arguably the apogee of Naughty Dog cinematic story telling. It's not a perfect story, but it's excellent, and none of their subsequent games have been as good. People's artistic visions change over time, and I don't think remakes have to be slavishly committed to the source material to be good or valid, but I don't really want to see Naughty Dog of 2021 or 2023 or whatever retake this story because I think it would be worse. I especially worry that they'll feel the need to expand it and mess with the pacing and end up with something as bloated as the second game felt to me. Give someone else a crack at it in 5 to 10 years? Maybe. I can't imagine Naughty Dog telling a better version right now.
Combine all these things and while I'm sure the game would be successful, and I'm not even saying I wouldn't play it (again, I love The Last of Us and a version with amazing PS5 graphics and DualSense integration and those incredible rope physics does sound appealing) it just seems like the wrong project for a studio that has made so many spectacular games, at the wrong time. It seems unlikely to live up to the original game, which is already available on PS5 right now and still looks and plays good, and it seems like it will play out very differently in the shadow of the second game. That's in addition to the fact that I'd rather see a new Naughty Dog project (whether that's Uncharted or The Last of Us 3 or something totally new I don't really care. Bring back Jak & Daxter you cowards!) and that I don't like Sony's new direction of focusing on only AAA massive sellers, which a remake of one of their most popular games clearly leans all the way into.
I'm not saying it wouldn't be a good game or I wouldn't give it a chance, I'm just disappointed to hear about this direction, and not very excited about the prospect of this being the next project. The games industry gives us so few linear single player games with big budgets these days it's a shame to just get a repeat one from of the industry's best studios at that structure so soon after the original. Especially when that repeat is undermined by the sequel, and may contain some of the structural problems that game introduced.
All the headlines based on my article today will focus on the games, but the real story here is the people:— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) April 9, 2021
- The people who tried to start something new at VASG but couldn't, and left
- The people who left Bend b/c of turbulence there
- The people who left Sony JP
It sounds like a lot of people at Sony are going through some stuff and I hope that things get better soon.