One of Sony’s widely loved household hits has been updated for new-gen consoles.
by Yasmine Abdeldayem
A heart-wrenching narrative rippled through the gaming world in 2013, as swift as the cordyceps infection that plagued the fictional world itself.
Nine years after this groundbreaking inclusion to the immersive story-telling medium, fans, old and new, can experience this apocalyptic tale in an entirely new way.
Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us: Part 1” launched exclusively for the PlayStation 5 on September 2, 2022.
The highly acclaimed video game majorly takes place in the twenty years after the cordyceps fungal infection violently spread throughout the country. With no cure in sight, a bite from an infected or inhaling their spores means mercilessly devolving into one of them.
After losing his daughter, Sarah, to a soldier’s indiscriminate gunfire on Outbreak Day, Joel Miller, the game’s hardened protagonist, does whatever it takes to survive in a world where the outlook of civilization is startlingly bleak. A broken watch on his wrist—the last gift he received from Sarah—serves as a subtle reminder of the kind of pain he could tumble into if he doesn’t stick to his guns.
Enter Ellie, a tough-as-nails, witty fourteen-year-old with a heart that (surprise) threatens to thaw the defensive walls around Joel’s. When her newfound immunity to the cordyceps virus presents a rare glimmer of hope for humanity, he’s sent on a journey across the country to smuggle her to the last people who might be able to create a vaccine.
While the 2014 remaster added minor graphic improvements and gameplay adjustments, Naughty Dog creators have routinely stressed that the 2022 edition is a true remake—from the ground up.
“The Last of Us: Part 2”, released in 2020, was a technological feat that emboldened the capabilities of new-gen consoles. Its precise executions of a rain-spattered Seattle naturally overcome by vegetation and action-packed encounters against frighteningly realistic enemy AI rendered a player’s venture back to “The Last of Us” all the more jarring.
“We really wanted new fans to have the ability to play Part 1 and Part 2 continuously without the large gaps in technology or visual fidelity,” said the creative director of “The Last of Us,” Shaun Escayg. “We also thought it was pretty important to expand our accessibility features into Part 1 from Part 2.”
While some fans questioned whether there was any need for a remake of a game that arguably holds up well a near decade after its birth, Naughty Dog outlines the stark reminder of the scarcity of accessible features and accommodations in video games. With additions such as audio cues, visual aids, and screen readers, the game extends a hand to players who have yet to experience the story in a manner that suits their needs.
Upon release, the game has been stamped with a price tag of $70, causing fans who have played the game in its earlier editions to wonder if a round two is worth the undiscounted expense. So, let’s dive into a few significant improvements in “The Last of Us: Part 1.”
Realism is the magic word in this iteration of “The Last of Us”, as it is for other notable Naughty Dog titles like “The Last of Us Part 2,” “Uncharted 4,” and “Uncharted: Lost Legacy.”
The AI in the remake is crucial in delivering this atmosphere, as it reinvents enemies with greater intelligence and improved reactions to the player’s combative or stealth decisions. Risk translates through the screen to a much greater degree and nudges players to get creative with their approach.
Movements more subtle than melee combat or gunplay, like simply entering a room or forcing a door open, have a new weight to them. Enhanced audio design sends chills down one’s spine, as a clicker—the second, visually horrifying stage in the cordyceps infection—gutturally shrieks around the corner.
The cinematics, too, have been utterly transformed through significant graphic upgrades and greater nuance that aligns more with the actors’ original performances, rendering the iconic duo of Joel and Ellie anew.
“You can see that conflict,” said game director, Matthew Gallant. “You can see the person saying one thing and feeling another.”
“The Last of Us: Part 1” remake is now available to purchase for the PS5. Fans should also stay tuned for the story’s TV adaptation on HBO, coming next year.