I got hands-on with The Last of Us this week, this brutal stealth action horror game is a force to be reckoned with, the blend of exciting melee combat, gunplay and harsh landscapes make this game stand out uniquely above other games, in both gameplay and graphics.
The Last of Us is Naughty Dog’s most recent IP, and is not a zombie game. They were adamant on making that clear, instead the game uses fungus to spread infection. The fungus is a kind of cordyceps, most notable for being the apparent cause of athletes beating several world records in 1993. The famous Ma Junren Case saw a group of Chinese athletes beat 5 world records, apparently they took cordyceps and turtle blood.
The game opened up in a half-destroyed building with Joel, Ellie and a third character who’s name I’ve actually forgotten (Good journalism skills, Patrick!). Graphically I was taken back, Joel really interacted with the environment, doing things like hiding his head from water, and hides behind cover in a way that makes you feel as if Joel is actually in the situation.
I started the preview with very limited supplies, but soon enough had a shotgun, two pistols and a bunch of rocks, sticks and metal pointy things. There’s a focus on using materials gathered to create new items and weapons.
It felt as if the game was divided into two things: scaling the landscape and combating enemies.
Scaling the landscape was pretty impressive and really took me back in time to earlier games like Tomb Raider, where you had to move around big chunks of brick to reach higher places. This is also the best way that we are able to view the game’s beautiful environment, as the game will have you climbing along the outside of buildings and scaling to the top floor of office blocks.
The issue with this is that Joel seems to often get confused when he’s meant to climb a small rock or do a high jump, and he’ll often jump as high as he can as if he’s trying to reach a really high wall, even if it’s just a small step up.
Fighting the enemies is the major challenge in the game, the weakest enemies even prove a challenge as they group up on you and swarm you almost instantly. As they pile on to you, you can push them off and run, but it rarely helps because they run so damn fast! But I adore the challenge and there’s nothing like the thrill of having a bunch of infected swarm on you at once.
I only saw two enemies, one was the runner which I just mentioned, the other was the “clicker”, once they grab you there’s no escape. To avoid these you have to use all of your resources, creating noises and sneaking around them. At one part of the preview I was attempting to stealth kill all the enemies, but accidentally punched an enemy in the back of the head and ended up wiping out the room with my gun. Now some of you will be upset by that because you’ll think the game is now less about stealth and thought, but that’s not the case because ammo is extremely limited.
This game is well on the way to hitting refresh on the survival horror genre mixing stealth, action and horror with brilliant story telling and platforming segments, all I can say is that I’m excited.