Reviewed on the PlayStation 5. Review copy provided by PlayStation.


The Last of Us. A name that video gamers across the globe associate with zombies and good storytelling. A game that was originally released back when “zombie fever” was high. It came and left its own mark in an incredibly strong fashion.

But a lot of time has passed since then. The game got a remaster for the PlayStation 4 generation and now, a proper remake using the technology from The Last of Us Part 2. There’s been a lot of discourse about this decision though. Was there really a need for a remake? Is it that big of an upgrade? And is it worth the $70 asking price?

I’m going to discuss all of that and more in this review. But first, a little bit about my history with the franchise. I imagine a lot of reviewers out there will be playing this game for at least the 2nd time. But I haven’t beaten the game before. I mean, I started the game multiple times (I think about 5 times) and got maybe 4 hours in before dropping it. Not because the game was bad but simply because life got in the way and I would restart the game because it had just been that long.

I tried it on the OG PlayStation 3 as well as the Remastered PlayStation 4 version. So I had some idea in my head of how it looked and ran. I also didn’t have any nostalgia or attachment to this game before playing it, which meant I could give it a fair, unbiased look. And this will be a spoiler-free review of the game. With that out of the way, let’s jump into the review.

The Remake Treatment

So let’s talk about what’s going on with this remake. If the terms remastered and remake have confused you then don’t worry. A remaster is usually when they apply some upgrades and minor changes to a game to make it look better or run better. It’s the same game most of the time with a fresh coat of paint if you will. A remake on the other hand is the game being remade. New assets, oftentimes a new or updated engine, and more. So a remake ends up being way more time intensive than a remaster and ends up being a much more modern product. The DLC, The Last of Us: Left Behind also comes bundled with this and has received the remake treatment.

So The Last of Us Part 1 is a remake. It’s been remade in the upgraded engine that was used for The Last of Us 2. This means upgraded character models, new lighting tech, new sound tech, improved animations, upgraded AI, and most importantly, new accessibility features.

Eye Candy

Let’s start by talking about the visuals because that’s one part where you can immediately see a change. I played the game mostly on the Performance Mode which is 1440p-4K Dynamic Resolution and 60fps. The game also features a Fidelity Mode which is 4K 30fps (40 on supported displays). And to put it bluntly, the game is breathtakingly beautiful. To me, this is how the game always looked when I played the opening few hours all those times. It felt natural and like not much was changed. Until I went back and looked at footage of the PS3 and PS4 versions. Which is when I realized just how much better the game looks.

The character models are incredible for starters, the foliage and vegetation look fantastic but what takes the cake is the lighting. The lighting mixed with the particle effects in the game is absolutely stunning. Here’s the thing though, the game visually looks like a modern-day AAA game. At the minimum, it’s pretty much on par with the visuals of The Last of Us 2.

I spent an absurd amount of time in Photomode because of how good this game looks. And the photo mode is pretty solid, at least from my casual perspective. I was able to get some beautiful shots that I’ll be highlighting throughout this review.

Sound

Alright, now let’s talk about audio, sound design, and music. I didn’t think going into this review that I would be talking about this a lot but here we are. For perspective, I played this game using a set of budget IEMs (Moondrop – Spaceship) plugged into the DualSense controller with 3D Audio turned OFF.

And I was blown away by how crisp, clean, and just immersive everything sounded. From the sound of gunshots that have that impact and the reverb of the sound hitting the walls of the corridor. Or the echo of when you fire it in the open. I’ve never heard a Hunting Rifle or Pistol or Revolver being shot IRL but I imagine they sound the way they do in the game. It doesn’t feel exaggerated or bassy for the sake of impact. It felt just right, and that’s when I really started to pay attention to the sound design in this game.

Sound plays a very vital part in combat encounters with the infected. And having the clarity to differentiate the types of enemies is important and this game didn’t fail me there. The clickers sound horrific and creepy and I can still hear that sound in my head.

And the soundtrack is one part that I knew what to expect before coming into the game. Because the main theme “The Last of Us” is a song I absolutely love. So I sort of knew that the music would be good but it’s more than just good. The music throughout your journey feels perfect. It makes the game feel so cinematic and immersive. It helps convey the emotion of what’s happening. Sometimes a character’s emotions, sometimes the intensity of a situation, but overall, it does a marvelous job. So kudos to Gustavo Santaolalla for an unforgettable score.

Accessibility Settings

To preface this section, I am not someone who needed to use any of the accessibility settings to be able to play the game. But I know and follow so many gamers who do and this is an absolute godsend for them. The plethora of settings here has made a game that was once not very friendly for people with disabilities to having one of the best accessibility settings in the industry.

So many people will now get to experience this masterpiece in a way that’s comfortable and playable for them. And getting all these settings to work isn’t just a switch you turn on and off in development. There’s a considerable amount of time and effort that went into making this as good as possible. But sadly, it’s something that a lot of players won’t even talk about or acknowledge because they’ll never use it. So for them, this feature of the remake is practically useless and will only act as ammunition to complain about the price of this game. But more on the pricing later.

But I for one am glad they’ve done so much to make sure that everyone can play and enjoy this game. The game includes a high contrast mode, story+combat subtitles, traversal audio cues, navigation assistance, an enhanced listen mode for enemy scanning, cinematic descriptions, and motor accessibility options. It shares the same set of features that The Last of Us 2 has and is quite granular.

The Story

Moving onto the story of this game. I won’t be spoiling anything here besides the setting of the world and the main premise of the game, so stuff you’d experience in the first 2 hours maybe. The world has gone to hell because of an infection that turns people into horrible zombie-like creatures. About 20 years after this infection reared its head most of humanity seems to live in small quarantine zones and towns. You play as Joel, a gruff man who is in his late 40s and lives in one of these quarantine zones. One day, he and his partner are tasked with smuggling a 12-year-old girl named Ellie out of the city and to a group called the Fireflies. A resistance group that was labeled a terrorist organization by the military government. And that’s the basic gist of it.

This game isn’t a game about the “zombies” as a lot of zombie media tends to be. It’s more a story about humanity and the sheer will of humans to survive even when all hell lets loose. It’s a personal story and so very grounded that you can’t help but get pulled into it. And as you go along the journey with the characters of this world you’ll see the world for what it is. There’s no black and white, no good and evil. It’s just people. Some scared, some hopeful, and some selfish. And I think that’s what makes this such a fascinating world and story.

And the performance by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson to bring Joel and Ellie to life. My goodness. There’s a reason they’ve received so many accolades and awards for this. I’m not saying that the other characters aren’t good but because we spend so much time with Joel and Ellie, you experience so much with them. And it feels so real. It doesn’t feel like you’re watching a movie or a stage play or a drama. It feels real. Grounded. Human.

Gameplay

This is a videogame so you’ll be spending a lot of time playing it. So if you don’t know what to expect, let me break it down for you. It’s a third-person action game. The majority of the gameplay is quite slow because you’ll be crouch walking and being stealthy. You have melee and ranged weapons to use but resources are scarce so you’ll have to be careful how often you use them. There are different type of infected creatures and also human enemies that you’ll have to either stealth past or kill to get past them.

The game has a “Listen Mode” that sort of acts like wall-hacks allowing you to see where enemies are. You can upgrade this along with your health and weapons. You can also craft consumables using resources you find in the world. Levels are mostly linear, with a bit of side exploration and branching paths at times.

Price

Alright, so let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The Last of Us Part 1 costs $70 in the US and Rs 4,999 in India. This is pretty much in line with how most publishers are now pricing their games these days. For reference, The Last of Us at the moment costs $40 in the US and Rs 2,499 in India. It launched at a price of $59.99 but it got a permanent price cut in July 2021.

So a brand new Last of Us game that was multiplatform (PS4 and PS5) costs less than a remake that is platform exclusive. For a lot of people that is a big dealbreaker. And I can see their perspective regarding this. But I also see the effort that has gone into making this remake. But I still personally feel that this game is priced too high. Especially in a region like India.

Video games are a luxury in a country like India. So when a player has the option to pick between one game that’s worth Rs 4,999 or PlayStation Plus Extra that’s also priced at Rs 4,999 but offers so much more value, what do you think they’re going to pick? And I know they’re trying to target new players with this remake who will experience a completely new game but even then, the price is a bit much.

If this game released at a $45 or maybe even $50 price tag then this wouldn’t even be a talking point. Especially with regional pricing. But here we are. We know this game is going to release on PC as well at some point, it’ll be interesting to see what pricing it gets then. But for now, I feel this game is priced too high and a lot of people won’t be able to afford to play this phenomenal game because of it.

Thankfully, and for all the people complaining that we didn’t need a remake, the Remastered version is still available, and it isn’t going anywhere. It was part of the PS Plus collection (unsure if it’s still there), it’s part of the PS Classics collection if you have the Deluxe or Premium sub, it’s available to purchase on PSN and can be found 2nd hand on various online and offline stores.

TL;DR

The Last of Us Part 1 is incredible. The remake has phenomenal visuals, great accessibility options, and a whole swathe of upgrades that make it an incredible modern-day AAA title. The story was received overwhelmingly positively originally, and that still holds true. This is an absolute must-play for people who like a good story, good characters, and a solid video game experience.

It’s also the perfect time to play it with the HBO TV show coming out soon. So if you play it now, you can be a part of the masses on the internet that will complain about every little thing they change in the TV show and how they’ve butchered your favourite characters and game. (I’m joking, please don’t take this seriously) (…unless?)

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Must Play
9
the-last-of-us-part-1-remake-review-this-wasnt-for-nothingThe Last of Us Part 1 is incredible. The Remake has phenomenal visuals, great accessibility options, and a whole swathe of upgrades that make it an incredible modern-day AAA title. The story was received overwhelmingly positively originally, and that still holds true. This is an absolute must-play for people who like a good story, good characters, and a solid video game experience.