‘The Last of Us’ series appeals to gaming enthusiasts


Joel and Ellie embark on a journey across the post apocalyptic United States in hopes to restore humanity. (Photo courtesy Warner Bros.)

   Sony Entertainment’s “The Last of Us,” a new television series released January 15 as a HBO Max special, is sparking lots of excitement. Based on the 2013 video game, the series will follow Joel (Pedro Pascal) and teenage Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across the post-apocalyptic United States. From the original release of the game, a series of remastered versions and a second game have been released on PlayStation as an exclusive. The franchise has also transformed the game into a comic book.

   “The Last of Us” game was originally released by Naughty Dog for the PlayStation 3 in June 2013. The game begins during the outbreak of the Cordyceps infection while Joel and Tommy, Joel’s brother, attempt to flee their hometown of Austin, Texas. Quarantine zones were set up around the country by various groups trying to survive the outbreak. Fast forward twenty years, while in an exchange for a weapons cache, Joel and his friend Tess are told to escort Ellie to a group of outside fireflies, a group of anti-government rebels. The trio is found by a military escort and they discover Ellie is infected. Full infection normally occurs in two days but Ellie claims to have been infected for three weeks. Due to her being immune to the infection, they believe she is the key to creating a vaccine. Players can find new gear and weapons to assist them along their path to restore humanity and there are encounters with both infected and human hostiles. 

   The much-anticipated sequel “The Last of Us Part II” was released for the PlayStation 4 and 5, set five years after the original. Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the game was officially released on June 19, 2020. The game takes a new turn and focuses on Ellie, who is out to seek revenge, and Abby, a soldier conflicted by her militia group and a religious cult. It did not take long before the game reached one of the best-selling PlayStation 4 games as well as the fastest-selling exclusive game for the console. The game has also broken the record for the most Game of the Year awards along with being widely considered as one of the best story mode games of all time.

   As for the first episode, it’s incredible. It marks the beginning of the outbreak, it brings out the nostalgic feel of the game. Many wondered if the series would live up to the high set standard of the game and characters. With many noticeable plot events seen throughout the first episode, some other points are new to viewers to give it its own diversity. Yet the show does not follow along with the game’s plot exactly; the mix provides an arguable enhancement to the show. It begins with a flashback to a 1968 talk show that discusses how the fungus is a major threat to humans. Although these events were not found in the games, it brings a real-world effect to viewers. Episode one covers the prologue of the twenty-year jump that occurs in part one. Then, it jumps to 2003 where there is more of a center around Sarah, Joel’s daughter. Viewers get to know her as she visits the neighbors, the Adler’s, and fixes Joel’s watch in a more in depth way then the game shows. Viewers can meet key characters like Joel, Ellie, Sarah, Tommy and Tess. The show focuses a lot on the relationships, specifically between Joel and Ellie, in the hour-and-twenty-minute episode. Joel and Tess begin their journey to take Ellie to the Fireflies, not long after they run into trouble with an acquaintance of Joel that is a guard of the quarantine zone.

   Episode two was a spectacular follow-up to the first episode. It begins in Indonesia where authorities come and take away mycology professor Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim). She studies fungi and she wants to look at a specimen that has been infected by the cordyceps. She finds tendrils in her mouth that are seen in infecteds’ mouths. When Ratna hears the first person to be infected is still out there she tells authorities to start bombing the cities as there isn’t a cure.  Audiences are able to see the results of the bombing, especially when they go back to Boston. 

   From now to March 15, episodes will continue to be released on Sunday afternoons.