The Last of Us Part 1 is an action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2022. It is a remake of The Last of Us launched in 2013, and the winner of over 200 Game of the Year awards, with improved gameplay and visuals.
The Elemental Tetrad
Set 20 years after a pandemic has changed civilisation, infected humans run wild and survivors kill each other for essential resources. Joel is hired to smuggle a 14-year-old girl, Ellie, out of an oppressive military quarantine zone, but what starts as a small job soon transforms into a brutal journey across the United States.
The Last of Us Part 1 main gameplay mechanic is combat as you fight against human and infected enemies while playing as Joel or Ellie. The combat feels tense and nerve-wracking in many moments with the well-designed layout of the levels and combat animations. The game provides various ways for combat through the choice of weapon (ranged and melee) and stealth, all of which will give players different outcomes. Furthermore, there is a distinct difference when playing Joel and Ellie. The combat of each character is unique and tells you more about their character which plays a huge role in empathising with their characters throughout the entire story. The gameplay video below shows a glimpse of the combat in The Last of Us Part 1.
The Last of Us Part 1 provides an immersive experience from the very first scene through the end credits with the detailed and rich post-apocalyptic world Naughty Dog has created. The emotions of the characters hit harder with detailed facial animations regardless of whether it’s in a cutscene or during gameplay. The gameplay video below showcases a glimpse of the amazing aesthetics the game will offer.
The Last of Us Part 1 is completely rebuilt from the ground up using Naughty Dog’s latest PS5 engine technology with advanced visual fidelity, fully integrated DualSense wireless controller features and more.
The Lens of Emotion (#1)
The Last of Us Part 1 is sure to bring players on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Fear, happiness, sorrow, disgust. The entire gameplay will definitely evoke all these emotions. The environment, character facial animations and music all played a pivotal role in further elevating these emotions by making players feel immersed throughout the gameplay. The gameplay video below shows a glimpse of one of the most emotional scenes in the game.
The Lens of Challenge (#38)
There are six levels of difficulty; very light, light, moderate, hard, survivor and grounded. Apart from making enemies more aggressive as the difficulty is increased, resources such as ammo and pickups become extremely scarce. Based on your current supplies, the game will work out how many supplies to provide and spawn them throughout the game. This is a subtle way to manage difficulty using Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment (DDA). If the players hoard supplies, then the game will not supply them with any more resources. However, this also shows the cons of using DDA as players can exploit this by using the resources as often as possible to obtain more resources.
The Lens of Imagination (#51)
The Last of Us Part 1 has the most effectively terrifying death sequences that I have experienced in my opinion. Most games end up with less by showing more. However, The Last of Us Part 1 death cutscenes shows us less, cutting to a black screen right before Joel’s face is ripped to shreds (see gameplay clip below) or before Ellie’s neck is ripped out into stringy fibres of the meat and because of this, the death sequences in the game evokes a sense of fear of what our imagination fills the gap with as opposed to completely being desensitized to the sight of a shredded human body. The mind fears what it does not know and combined with terrifying sound effects, the gameplay becomes even more immersive due to the nature of desperation during combat encounters in The Last of Us Part 1.
The Lens of Story Machine (#73)
The Last of Us Part 1 is a linear narrative. One of the core foundations of game design is to make the player feels like their choices matter and how can it do so in a linear narrative game like The Last of Us Part 1. Almost all games tackle this by giving player choice during gameplay. In the case of The Last of Us Part 1, you have the freedom of weapons to craft and scavenge for supplies. However, these choices do not affect the narrative of the game. With the success of games that involve players in branching storylines like Mass Effect or Heavy Rain, the direction that gaming seems to be headed in is giving players a say and where the story goes. In the case of The Last of Us Part 1, the player is not meant to be Joel or Ellie in this linear story. Joel and Ellie are themselves. Playing the game is only meant to serve as a window into their thoughts and emotions. Therefore, in the case of The Last of Us Part 1, the narrative being linear is not a negative. It is a more powerful way of vicariously experiencing the story through Joel and Ellie.
Although there are some cons to the game design of The Last of Us Part 1, some of these cons are actually justified and the pros of the game outweigh far more. The Last of Us Part 1 is one of those games that we have to play through at least once and appreciate the amount of thought behind making the game.