I was fifteen when I first played The Last of Us. The remastered version for the PS4 was the bread and butter of the hours spent post-surgery after tearing my ACL. That meant for just about an entire month, I played through the game roughly four times, taking breaks in between every few chapters to rewatch the “behind the scenes” footage that came with the title.
I had completely fallen for the characters and the story, and each time I finished the game, I felt a little more whole than before (and much more sad). Something about Joel and Ellie’s relationship just called me back to the start menu any time I was conscious. It’s not like I had much to do in the early days of recovery, anyway. But I could have been playing other games, or reading, or writing. Ultimately no, I really wasn’t interested in any of that. I just wanted TLOU.
Watching the actors deliver their performances, watching Gustavo Santaolalla walk me through his creative process, and seeing Neil Druckmann explain the nuances between his vision and commanding a whole studio of animators, audio designers, writers, and other artists made playing the game seem all the more enticing. And playing the game made learning more about seem all the more rewarding. And this cycle repeated itself until, finally, it was easy to say that I simply loved the game.
It is the first title I can say that I truly loved, even before Dark Souls found its way into my library. I haven’t touched TLOU in years, but that vault is best left closed. On the one hand, I’d be enthralled with the idea of another game reaching the near-perfection TLOU did, and in quite a similar fashion. On the other hand, I don’t know if I have the energy or time to be grasped by a title like TLOU grasped me way back when.
It’s a shower of brilliant art, and I’m lucky to have been here to witness it.