Naughty Dog’s writers and developers received multiple accolades for The Last of Us. Now, they can add Game of the Decade to their list thanks to Metacritic voters. The Last of Us beat out runner-up The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and third place winner The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
The PlayStation exclusive, originally released in 2013, wasn’t even on store shelves before winning Most Anticipated Game at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards. The post-apocalyptic game became one of the best-selling PS3 games and was ported to the PS4 as The Last of Us Remastered in 2014.
Although the game has been praised for its stealth mechanics and overall gameplay, what makes The Last of Us stand out is its five-time award-winning storytelling. It distanced itself from the saturated zombie genre by including cinematic cues and traditional videogame aesthetics.
Neil Druckmann and his team developed a story that immersed players into a world that made them feel empathy through control. Instead of playing a standard third-person shooter, players became Joel and Ellie. The naturalness of conversations and the subtle A.I. changes made the game more intense, relatable, and life-like. As a result, players were invested in these characters and their journey.
The empathy gained during 12+ hours of gameplay made the ending more memorable for players. Numerous articles and subreddits were created to discuss Joel’s final decision. Depending on the player, the game may have revealed a moral or philosophical position they weren’t aware of.
“I love it because in a game that’s basically all about saving the world, in the end, the protagonist is selfish and decides not to. Seriously how rare is that?” – AndrewTheGoat22, Reddit Member
“So Joel accepts his fate and forces Ellie into the hell on earth with him. What a selfish prick. ‘You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.’ Damn you Naughty Dog.” – LargeSticker, Reddit Member
“That last bit was always my sticking point in siding with Joel. People say Ellie would have chosen to die… maybe so, but she didn’t get to make that choice! If Joel is bad for robbing her of that choice then Marlene is equally guilty of the same thing.” – ZapRowsdower, Reddit Member
“I feel like it was the dirtiest decision Jole [sic] had to make… choosing between a girl he views as his daughter and saving the world? He already lost a daughter, but then making that decision? I feel like he made the wrong choice saving her, but it makes me relate to him more because that’s what I would have chosen.” – HemaL2, Reddit Member
With The Last of Us Part II taking place five years after the first game’s events, players will discover how Ellie and Joel’s relationship has changed. Ellie will be the protagonist, so it’ll be interesting to see her character development and how she has grown in her harsh environment.
Will Druckmann and his team subvert from conventional storytelling? Will they strike gold again?
The Last of Us Remastered is available on PS4.
The Last of Us Part II will be released on May 29, 2020 on PS4.