HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ Review: The Greatest Video Game Adaptation Ever Made

Practically a decade after its launch, The Final of Us stands tall among the many finest written video video games of all time. Not solely does the HBO adaptation protect its Sony PlayStation supply materials’s excellence and convey it to a wider viewers, it dives into its post-apocalyptic universe in ways in which’ll delight and shock even hardcore sport followers.

The present, which premieres Sunday on HBO Max, takes place in a ravaged world, after a fungal mind an infection diminished a lot of the populace to savage cannibals. Grumpy smuggler Joel should escort defiant teen Ellie throughout the US, for barely spoilery causes.

It is a captivating journey that’ll depart you awed and horrified in equal measure, with Recreation of Thrones alumni Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey infusing vulnerability and humanity into this charismatic duo at each flip. 

This story kicks off with Joel as society crumbles within the terrifying early days of the outbreak, deftly organising his emotional stakes in a gap that mirrors the sport carefully. Pascal, in a nuanced efficiency, exudes ache in a vital second of loss, but additionally shows a compelling decisiveness and hints of caprice.

A bleak world

Leaping ahead 20 years, we’re launched to a world the place survivors dwell in authoritarian quarantine zones run by the cruel remnants of the US army. Their rule is threatened by an unpredictable insurgent group often known as the Fireflies, with marauders and contaminated roving across the nation. 

"When you're lost in the darkness, look for the light" is written in yellow graffiti on warehouse doors in The Last of Us

The present is stuffed with the imagery that provides to its world’s historical past.


It is fascinating to discover, although a tad overwhelming. The early episodes are punctuated with flashbacks revealing the outbreak’s origins, a component that wasn’t within the sport. Co-writers Craig Mazin (creator of HBO’s Chernobyl) and Neil Druckmann (the video games collection’ inventive director) added this to offer newcomers a agency grounding, nevertheless it’ll undoubtedly interact gamers as effectively. 

Pascal provides layers of world-weariness to his efficiency as we return to a hardened Joel, who’s performed no matter it took to outlive through the years. He begrudgingly takes on the mission with Ellie, with Pascal and Ramsey’s chemistry rising steadily because the present patiently builds a bond between them.

Ramsey’s efficiency unfolds extra steadily, displaying extra dramatic shade as we be taught extra about Ellie and her sense of marvel turns into obvious. It is electrical to observe because the impressionable teen learns from Joel and the opposite survivors they meet alongside their journey, particularly as the main target shifts towards Ellie within the later episodes. 

Using torches, Tess and Joel inspect an infected body covered in fungus in The Last of Us

The cordyceps an infection mirrors visuals seen within the video games.


The contaminated are used sparingly however stick carefully to their sport appearances and ooze hazard in every encounter. A few of the visible and sound results weren’t completed within the episodes HBO despatched to press forward of launch, however these scenes had been magnificently shot and are more likely to be extraordinarily efficient.

Pleasure in darkness

Vitally, the grim post-apocalypse odyssey is punctuated by moments of levity and hope — largely supplied by the curious and defiant Ellie. These are usually adopted by reminders that they are trapped in a hellish world, however you will positively be a part of within the first time they snort collectively.

A lot of the season’s 9 episodes concentrate on this core dynamic, nevertheless it additionally takes a number of shocking detours to inform extra self-contained tales. These tales reveal how characters discover room for tenderness and happiness amidst the horror.

Marlene holds a gunshot wound on stomach as her ally looks on in The Last of Us

Merle Dandridge (left) reprises her sport function as Firefly chief Marlene.


One in all these dives into the lifetime of gruff survivor Invoice, with Parks and Recreation actor Nick Offerman anchoring an installment that proves to be the season’s most uplifting and haunting. It massively expands a storyline that is solely hinted at within the sport and is an ideal piece of episodic storytelling. You may must lie down for a bit after watching this one.

The second of those will probably be acquainted to sport followers, revealing a formative second in Ellie’s previous. It is immensely enjoyable to observe Ramsey’s dynamic with a personality performed by Storm Reid (seen in HBO’s Euphoria), even when there’s an ominous cloud hanging over each second.

Authentic sport composer Gustavo Santaolalla’s rating provides a craving unhappiness to the narrative, whereas a number of pop and rock tracks trace on the world that got here earlier than.

Past the sport

Followers will probably be glad to see that the difference largely stays true to the occasions of the primary sport, however there are a number of intelligent additions to Ellie and Joel’s core quest. Yellowjackets‘ Melanie Lynskey offers new villain Kathleen a quiet menace, together with her presence including a brand new component to a well-recognized sport subplot.

The present additionally takes the time to disclose beforehand unseen moments that’ll make sport followers’ jaws drop, together with numerous refined visible Easter eggs and a sprinkling of intelligent cameos.

In contrast, Scott Shepherd (from Breaking Dangerous sequel film El Camino) seems within the later episodes as a villain players will definitely keep in mind. His charismatic efficiency anchors a narrative that sticks extraordinarily carefully to one of many sport’s late chapters.  

HBO’s The Final of Us is an absolute triumph, providing considered one of gaming’s most intense and interesting narratives to TV viewers and revealing thrilling new elements of the universe to those that’ve performed the video games. It is superbly written and the casting is flawless, with Pascal, Ramsey and their co-stars including layers of emotional depth and unsettling ethical grayness to each second.

Online game variations have a brand new gold normal. Roll on Half 2.

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