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The thing that hit me most about the last of us is just how real it all felt. The world is beautiful and finds a perfect balance between a very believable America and a post-apocalyptic hellscape. It's so fun to just gawk at how well-made and diverse these setpieces are. It makes the game never feel stale or boring even if the gameplay might be in a lull.
The characters have philosophies and beliefs in a way that is really unique. In many games, you come to understand characters by learning their goals and ambitions. The Last of Us is different. Most of these characters have been so fucked up by the last twenty years that most of their humanity is gone and they have lost hope of getting it back. You discover what these people are all about in the fleeting moments when they let their guards down or choose to let go of their defenses. It's so real, and so are the dumbass choices many of them end up making. Joel and Ellie are so human and the game thrives off that. Also, they are pretty fun to be around as long as Joel isn't violently repressing last night's dinner which makes the moment-to-moment very enjoyable. After playing the DLC you really discover what makes their dynamic so interesting to watch play out. They both arrive at the choice to live and fight on for much different reasons. Ellie chooses to live as to not waste a second that she was lucky enough to be given. Joel instead seems to just be going through the motions, living for the sake of his survival instinct. As the game goes on his philosophy changes so much through Ellie that soon he’s seeing the world more like she was which has huge implications on where we end up by the curtain call.
The gameplay took some time to grow on me. It doesn’t feel like anything special, but it was fun for the most part. I am not a huge fan of stealth gameplay but it didn’t really bother me too much. I like that they gave you options to be stealthy, just kill everything, or even run through the enemies. It’s agreeable. The puzzles are pretty bad. They all exist on the same flowchart and are only difficult if you happened to not see a random dumpster for boosting onto or a wooden tablet that you are supposed to float Ellie on which I’m not even sure the physics check out on that one, but what do I know? The real thing that carries the moment to moment is the setpieces and little details that are neat to discover. The notes of former victims of the cordyceps were great fun to read and allow you to create a picture of how things fell apart. Ish’s sewer society was particularly cool. One last thing that I did not like so much about this game was I felt that the early sections outside of the 100 MPH opening segment were a bit boring. I feel Tessa and even Bill’s arcs could have been done better but things pick up once they hit Pittsburg for sure.
This review contains spoilers
"Look Mom, no fans"
Absolutely bone-chilling. What an ending.
Enhanced Pokio from Super Mario Odyssey gets taken back to a simpler time. This game is great fun for an hour and has some surprisingly fun movement. I definitely wouldn't mind a longer more comprehensive experience with the Kiwi. The levels are short and simple and great fun to run through and the music actually slaps. And as a huge fan of Banjo Kazooie, DK 64, and the N64 in general, I loved what they were going for here.