Recently picked up the remastered version of the game on ps4, which would have been my first time playing it in about 2 years. I finished it up last night and the game still hit as hard as it did the first time I played it. Heading into the original release of the game I didn't have much hype for it, basically just picking it up based on the fact it was made by Naughty Dog and the critical acclaim it had been getting. Little did I know I would end up putting it in my top 3 games of all time, possibly even number 2, behind Metal Gear Solid 2.
The game was a much needed breath of fresh air for the survival horror genre, forcing you to actually respect and fear combat because of the lack of supplies and ammunition in the game world. All of the games mechanics work really well, my only complaint being the tedious wood pallet and ladder puzzles. The action is broken up well with the unbelievably realistic character interactions which have yet to be surpassed, and the game really makes you care about these characters. I think the most heart-wrenching moment I've ever experienced in a video game was breaking into the hospital room, shooting the doctors out of desperation, and grabbing Ellie off the bed and avoiding all the guards, all while the incredible soundtrack plays in the background.
I think what makes it so powerful is that the story doesn't really have a happy ending. Joel gets to save what he sees as his new daughter, but at the same time killing Marlene and all those fireflies in order to do so, not to mention potentially dooming mankind by not letting Ellie make her sacrifice in order to find a cure. My theory is that Joel doesn't perceive mankind as being redeemable. After 20 years of struggling to survive, he's seen how selfish and brutal humans can be and doubts there is anything left worth saving in the ruined world. So he just trys to take the one thing he has left, being Ellie, and attempts to start a new life.
I haven't played anything since that has come anywhere close to having an effect on me as The Last of Us has. Not only is it just a really good game, it has a story that every person can relate to and it's so believable in its execution. Naughty Dog in the last 10 years has truly proven they are the developer in which everyone should be compared to.