Take a look back on on one game contending to be the greatest of all time. Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us is an action-adventure survival horror game originally released onto the PlayStation 3 in June of 2013. It is one of the best-selling games of that generation. It would later be Remastered to the PlayStation 4 in the following year. Now let us take a look to see just what makes The Last of Us heavily praised.

There are two central threats to the journey that will require cunning and planning to overcome. The first of which is the infected, zombie-like creatures, they are mindless cannibals that have been taken over by a mutated fungus. The other threat is the other humans trying to survive in the remains of civilization.

This game has a story that is not pulling back punches. It hits hard in for an emotional journey. I have played the game multiple times and I still tear up in those pivotal moments despite knowing exactly what was going to happen. The game gives an early moment that tells you just how emotional of a journey it is going to be, well before entering into the main focus of the story

That core focus is the relationship between Joel and Ellie. Through most of the game, players control Joel. His character has been beaten and worn down through the downfalls of mankind. He has become a smuggler of goods and his newest job is to get Ellie passed along to an organization called the Fireflies. They are looking for a cure and Ellie seems to be the key. Ellie is a girl with a lot of fight. She is not meek or shy, she got sass. She’s had her harsh life of growing up in the apocalypse.

The character development and progression of the two are astounding. There are some time skips within the story, but even not witnessing every moment of their journey there are clues of how they’ve changed after each. The story takes them to different states within the United States. This wide range of locations provides a bit of variety of environments and some landmarks that some players may recognize. Personally, it is a story I feel everyone should play themselves.

No matter let’s take a look at the gameplay. Considering the genre of the game there are two avenues to take: charge head first or slow and steady stealth. Anytime stealth is offered in a game that is often my first choice. The best tools in this mode are Listen Mode and Ellie. The Listen Mode gives Joel super hearing to locate enemy positions. There is a limiting range that can be upgraded to make it an even easier time. As for Ellie, she isn’t really a tool as much as an indicator. When Ellie has entered into a stealth position then enemies are around and as soon as she stands that gives a hint that the area has been cleared. It was something I considered helpful and kept me from playing the entire came crouched other stealth games I’ve played. It is also helpful that enemies will not react to Ellie.

Since there is a Listen Mode that also brings some focus into the sounds of the game. I found it did very well. The most memorable sound will always be the infected Clickers. As by their name suggests they make a clicking sound, otherwise the infected is blind. These were my least favorite to deal with in the game and a large part of it was due to the sound alone. It was unsettling. They were a large part of the horror the game had to offer in my opinion.

There are some sections of the game where stealth is not really an option. The enemies already know where Joel and Ellie are from the start and are out to get them. This did take away my nervous safety net of stealth, but it did provide for some variety of the play. Also made it so I could not get complacent in what the game would throw at me next. There is a range of weaponry with handguns, rifles, shotguns, and a bow and arrow for the ranged stealth kill. Also, explosives, Molotov cocktails, smoke bombs, and shivs can be made through crafting.

The Last of Us is a game rooted in its story and characters. That is what makes the game a memorable experience. It has heartbreaking moments and development of characters. The gameplay is solid. The variations of areas and sequences keep it all from being too much of the same and provide for different challenges to work through. If you haven’t gotten around to playing this one then I highly recommend The Last of Us, at least in time before the sequel.