I tried the Last of Us years ago on an old PS3 gifted to our family, but I didn’t go past 30 minutes. Now that the Last of Us Part 1 is finally on PC, I finally played it the proper way. I long wondered why Playstation players were so obsessed with the series. Now I see that the Last of Us is a masterpiece, but also not quite “the greatest game ever made” like some fanatics think.
The Last of Us Part 1, a Rough Road to PC
Back when the PS4 was in full swing, my wife’s nephew gifted us a PS3. Years before that, I heard Playstation players gloat over how great the Last of Us was. I finally tried it on that PS3, but the dated graphics and console controls were just yuck. As primarily PC gamer, I lasted 30 minutes before giving up on it.
Fast forward to 2023. Not only did I watch the Last of Us on HBO and love the story, but I preordered the PC version Sony finally committed to releasing. That PC port did not release well. It was quite a performance mess, even after delaying the release a month. There was a ton of drama around all the issues, but Naughty Dog finally fixed enough of the issues to earn Steam Deck verification.
That was my cue to finally play. Well, now it plays, even on Steam Deck.
The Last of Us Part 1 Reminds me of Alan Wake
With all graphics option maxed and HDR on, the game looks great, but very familiar. Sure I tried a bit of it on the PS3 years ago, but it was something else. I realized the graphics, animations, gunplay and puzzles reminded me a lot of Alan Wake.
Their stories are different, but I think the Last of Us is clearly inspired by Alan Wake (which originally released years before it). The visual style is like Alan Wake with the lights on. That’s not a bad thing, because we need more games like this. I just find it funny how Sony fanatics claimed there was no game like it before. That’s not entirely true.
The Last of Us Part 1 did accomplish 2 great things. First, it’s story of a mycelium mutation infecting humans is a great twist on the tried and true zombie formula. Second, it either created or mastered the “dad sim”. The latter elevates it above Alan Wake a bit.
The Dad Sim
Alan Wake is all by himself the majority of the time. The Last of Us, is Joel and Ellie together for most of the game. Covering each other, solving puzzles together and various interactions with each other. Their relationship starts out cold, but they end up family.
I think the true turning point of their relationship in the Last of Us Part 1 was when Joel was seriously injured. Ellie took care of him and then Joel saved her from “the Hunters”. The whole journey built up their bond, but that stretch of game is where they truly cemented it. The people they lost along the way and bond they built is what makes this game so special.
Even the Left Behind DLC I played after the main game built on Ellie background and the lengths she went to to protect Joel during his recovery. Having watched the HBO Last of Us series, it’s a treat to relive those story moments and see where the game differs from the show.
The Last of Us Part 1 Gameplay is Solid
Sure there are the typical Sony game quick time events and 1 button press cutscene bits of “gameplay”, but everything else is good. I enjoyed controlling Joel, while helping Ellie. Beside maybe Plague Tale, I don’t remember so much “coop” in a single player game.
There were so many ladders to move, boosting Ellie up, guiding her on a raft (she can’t swim), solving puzzles together, etc.. The key though, is it was all fun and helped build that relationship between them to support the story. It definitely adds something to this type of game.
I even enjoyed the mundane act of looting for supplies and ammo. Ammo was not as scarce as I expected, but was also not overly abundant. Collecting things really fed into the crafting mechanic. I liked that the crafting menu shows Joel or Ellie opening the backpack. From there, I loved crafting Shivs and Nail Bombs for the win.
Upgrading and Using Weapons
The weapon upgrades tables were even more impressive. I loved the overhead shot of Joel dissembling each gun, then working on components with the various tools collected. Most upgrades were visually apparent, which is nice to actually see the progress. Also a nice touch that each upgrade level required a new type of tool. By the end, it felt nice to collect the whole set.
The fact the Last of Us Part 1 gunplay is enjoyable helps drive the whole upgrade system too. Extra damage is great, but man it’s nice to have higher capacity and faster reload when the infected are running at me. Early on, I leaned on the 9MM Pistol, but moved onto the Shotgun later on. My favorite end game weapon was the Flamethrower, for sure.
Nothing like throwing a bottle to get the infected swarming, throw a Nail Bomb at them, then flame any left over. Yeah, I fully upgraded that bad boy for the lovely crowd control ability. Even when the game threw Assault Rifles at me, I was like “nah, I’ll stick with the flamethrower”.
The game’s limited ammo for each weapon does force trying everything out. The bow, for example, was a great stealth weapon once I took time to learn to use it well. Some of the specialty pistols where fun to play with too.
Ok Sony, it’s time For the Last of Us Chapter 2 on PC
Now I understand why fans of the series hold Last of Us Part 1 in such a high regard. It’s an unforgettable game with story and gameplay to match. The remaster helps it look amazing. Now I’m full ready for part 2. I would preorder, knowing it’s possible I’d have to wait for performance patches again. Just seeing people say part 2 is even better has me sold.
To be clear though, none of these games are good enough for me to a Playstation. I can’t support the practice of a console only exclusive. If you want to keep it from Xbox, that’s fine, but not from PC. On the flip side, I’ll absolutely support Sony games on PC. It’s voting with my wallet for more PC ports and sooner. Maybe one day the money is too good for them to resist releasing day one on PC.