Every Good Story Starts With a Tragedy

If You’ve Seen HBO’s The Last of Us, You’ll Definitely Love The Last of Us Game Series


Layla Alexander, Staff Writer

On January 15, 2023, HBO released the first episode of The Last of Us drama series based on The Last of Us game by Naughty Dog. The Last of Us is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been wiped out by a fungal infection, turning infected people into violent monsters. The game follows the story of Joel, a smuggler who still grieves his dead daughter, who takes on the task of taking Ellie, a young orphan girl, across the United States in the hopes of being the cure to the viral infection. The TV series quickly became popular and more and more people watched it as more episodes came out. There were many great things the show added to the story of The Last of Us: such as the connectedness of the infected and a better portrayal of Joel’s physical decline from age and having to survive. Even so, for the people who watched the show and never played any of the games, they should definitely consider doing so.

The game offers a better experience as the player can actively engage in the development of the story and Ellie and Joel’s relationship. Watching The Last of Us show adaptation, I realized Joel and Ellie’s character development didn’t feel as personal as playing the game did. Playing the game, the player takes Ellie and Joel on a long, emotional journey in part I of the series; while playing as Joel, trying not to get killed and protect Ellie proves to become difficult for the player as they have to go through different areas with different levels of infected, with whatever weapons, and whatever resources are on hand. Not to mention, there’s differences in the story of The Last of Us game and the TV adaptation that can be interesting to see for new players; Frank, for example, leaves Billy in the game and commits suicide unlike the show.

The beginning of the first part of the series, Joel loses his daughter during the beginning of a fungal plague. Eventually, after years have passed, Ellie—a fourteen year old who is immune to the disease that’s taken millions of lives, including indirectly Joel’s daughter—and Joel embark on a journey, out of Tess’ dying wish, believing that Ellie could be the cure. A big theme of the game is grief and how people respond to it; for Joel, his loss of Sara, his daughter, led him to immense grief that he would eventually repress as time passed. Joel at first was reluctant throughout their dangerous journey, but then learns to love and care for Ellie.

In other words, I love The Last of Us game for its storytelling at a time when doing so in games wasn’t a big thing yet. It’s themes—grief, hope, and moving on, to name a few—makes it a game that stays with you a long time after you’ve finished playing.

Anyone who plays the original game after watching the show will definitely not regret it.