The Last of Us
is pretty weird for me, or at least it's very "normal" and I'm the one who is weird. I first started playing this in October of 2015, having purchased it as a "spooky" game to tide me over until the release of Corpse Party: Blood Drive
later in the month, which I suppose gives some hint toward the type of thing I'm into, which is quite different from AAA gaming. Anyway, I played through Chapter 3, saw I was already ~15% complete, and felt I would end up finishing the game sooner than I'd have liked, so I... postponed it for a couple years instead(!?). I think it was October 2017 (possibly 2018) that I planned to return to the game after playing Silent Hill 3
, but while I enjoyed that game I was turned off by how it felt more "cinematic" than "game-y" and I lost interest in jumping back into TLoU
. The following October, I decided to play TLoU
before any other games, seeking to get it out of the way, lest it get postponed again. I did end up enjoying the game a good bit, but felt maybe "underwhelmed" by the story, only really
liking the choice Joel made at the end, and I guess Bill also, but otherwise appreciating the voice-acting and mocap/animation that I felt made the "execution" of the story better than the writing. That said, I was ultimately peeved that the game felt like it had twice as many skirmishes against non-infected enemies as it did Cordyceps victims, which felt strange to me because it made me think of e.g. a Resident Evil [バイオハザード]
game where you fight more Umbrella mercenaries than zombies/Ganados.
After the release of the first episode of HBO's TV adaptation, I had an interest in replaying the game, I think largely to "spoil" myself on the plot beats, having assumed I'd forgotten the finer details. I first played the game on Normal, so replayed on Normal+, not realizing it was possible to fuck around and trick the game into thinking I'm allowed to play on Hard+. In the course of this replay, knowing what to expect from having played before, I was more "tolerant" of the non-infected encounters. I would soon play the expansion, The Last of Us: Left Behind
, where I missed an Optional Conversation in Chapter 2, so I replayed it to finish that Trophy, as well as a couple other miscellaneous ones, and decided to take a bit of a risk by jumping into Survivor mode (I think I actually first played the DLC on Hard anyway). I felt like a badass when I kept dying to the Stalkers, decided to waste some deaths on pinpointing the locations of every brick in the area, then retried without taking any damage, stunning every Stalker with a brick so Ellie could stab the shit out of them with her knife, feeling like I'd earned myself a pat on the back for working the encounter out on my own. The final battle in the DLC was a bigger struggle, mostly because the game kept glitching and erasing enemies upon my respawn, and on completion I felt I was capable of tackling Survivor in the main game, so I did. Well, I cheated for Survivor+. The point is, playing with an increased focus on stealth and reliance on bricks/bottles over firearms made the game feel "truer" to the tone I think its apocalypse was aiming for. I imagine it'll be realer still on Grounded, but I'll save that for much later. Rarely failing against Infected encounters, and often
failing against bandit/hunter encounters, I was forced to dwell more on the "sneaking around killing non-zombies" aspect of the game, necessarily making me appreciate such setpieces more than in my prior two plays. I might have ended up "overcorrecting," actually, as I had no trouble in the hotel basement, and not too much in the sewer with Sam, versus the hell of the financial district, so I'm at risk of feeling indifferent to the zombies in this zombie game. The first time I played this game, I was annoyed that there are only like six(?) Bloaters, but now I'm comfortable with only needing to kill two, so perhaps the hotel, university, and bus depot tunnel Bloaters are at risk of feeling extraneous to me? Will I be bored with zombies entirely whenever I complete Grounded? It's already true that I "fear" Runners more than anything else because if they aggro I'd have to either restart the encounter to try stealth again, or just risk damage by running around with melee. Clickers and Bloaters don't bother me because I view almost all attacks as one-hit kills on Joel; I basically only reheal through story sequences, such as some chapters restoring Joel's health meter, only using resources on health packs when I've filled my capacity for Molotovs, which I rarely use anyway.
I do really enjoy this game, but by now it's almost solely for the gameplay than the storytelling. As such, I can't see myself bumping this to a 5.0, as it gets annoying having to move ladders/dumpsters/pallet-rafts all the time, or slow scripted walk-and-talk sequences like injured Joel limping out of the science building
. Druckmann and company wanted a masterpiece of "video games as cinema-adjacent," or something like that, but whether intentional or not they've ended up making a fun stealth-action game. On my Survivor+ run, my third time through the game, I skipped every prerendered cinematic without feeling bad (but largely because I'd just finished the game with
cutscenes a week ago). If I happen to replay the game this year, I'll probably skip cutscenes again. But
I think I do plan on getting the PS4 remaster soon-ish, mainly to try Factions, and I think I'll watch cutscenes the first time I play that version, out of respect, and if I ever get a PS5 I'll likely get the remake there. But beyond that, I'm quite hyped to finally move into The Last of Us Part II
, which I really
want to get to before playing the first game a fourth
boss fight always makes me shit my pants, which is funny because I've always thought the structure was like a "realistic" take on Jak and Daxter
bosses with the "do this same thing three times to beat him."