The highlight of The Last Of Us is the gritty narrative and is aided by a focus on improvisation in combat
After being such a big fan of Naughty Dog's latest work it’s surprising that it took me four years to finally visit the post apocalyptic wasteland full of mushroom zombies. Looking back 2013 me was all about nonstop action instead of trying to scavenge my way through many horrible situations. A lot like the first scene of the game where we get introduced to our main protagonist Joel. Who quickly goes from trying to save his daughter Sarah to mourning her death. From here we go 20 years into the future where our “hero” has taken a job to escort Ellie to a firefly camp. She is immune to the virus that has ravaged the world and she might be the last hope to restore what was lost. From this point 4 seasons will pass and each one a new tale of survival will be told. By the time the credits rolled I didn’t know what emotion I should be feeling since it really does leave you feeling emotionally drained. Take that in the best possible way since the story is really good.
Meanwhile the gameplay has a solid foundation that keeps it from getting boring in the 14 hours it takes to finish this. The core of the game is a mix of stealth and improvisation. Not always having access to all the tools thanks to how limited ammo is forces the forces the player to try different tactics. Plus sneaking past everyone is never my forte ending with just about every enemy dying before I left each area. I ended up using melee combat a lot even if it just consisted of me hitting square or triangle a bunch. Whenever the fight made me use guns to whittle down the enemy numbers I never felt accurate enough to be effective. Sure it fits the setting but I would have liked the gunplay to be less realistic. But it did force me to use thrown weapons and traps more which is something I never tend to use effectively. Yet it became a cornerstone of my offence whenever I had the supplies to craft bombs.
Crafting stuff is a simple system that relies on scavenging the landscape to have extra supplies for the next encounter. It can make the game feel like survival horror when you're stuck in a situation with low supplies. Six different generic crafting items can be obtained and used to make a small assortment of items. Consisting of a health kit and few different types of thrown weapons like a nail bomb. Although it may not sound like much they are all useful for dealing with humans and the infected. With either type of enemy sound is their weakness. A well placed brick or nail bomb can distract quite a few foes. Allowing the player to sneak by without a crazy firefight.
Other than the main narrative mode this game does indeed have a multiplayer mode called factions. Bringing the same gameplay into a multiplayer setting. As I already noted I didn’t quite like the gunplay before and it certainly isn’t something I want to do in a multiplayer setting. With the few matches I did check out I just ended up dying a lot. Which isn’t to surprising since anyone still playing this now has to be pretty good at it. The additional meta game of running a group of survivors that requires you to do different tasks during encounters is a neat idea. If I wanted to keep playing this mode that part is good hook to keep players coming back.
So now we come to the most obvious conclusion to this review. This is a amazing video game narrative that tells of a dark journey through a bleak world. Very few games live up to this level of storytelling. At the same time the gameplay is a bit lacking in the shooting stuff department. . Yet the rest of the gameplay is fine with solid stealth options and a simple melee system. Add on scavenging for craftable items and you’ve got a fun yet stressful video game. So to sum things up this is a game worth playing if you haven’t played it yet.
Bonus Quickie Review: Left Behind DLC
Showing off how Ellie gets bitten was a neat idea for a side story. If shooting guys was more of what you wanted then this doesn’t have much of that. Instead you get a scene where our heroines read a bunch of dumb puns while walking around an abandoned mall. It does have one of the most dramatic fight setups in the non flashback sections of the DLC too. Overall a solid side story that should be played if you liked The Last Of Us.