Over the last few decades, video games have stopped being merely a form of entertainment and have started becoming a cinematic experience. Many of this decade's most praised games are known for good plots and realistic characters. One of the best examples of this is The Last of Us, developed by Naughty Dog and released exclusively for PlayStation in 2013.
A plot-driven, cinematic survival-horror game, The Last of Us centers around Joel, a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world who cares only for himself. However, he's given responsibility of Ellie, a fourteen-year-old survivor who might be the saviour for humanity. The game follows their amazing journey across America to find the allusive Fireflies.
What makes the game so good is the intense, emotional story that's brought to life by the realistic characters. Tense at some moments, and humorous at others, The Last of Us offers a deep, emotionally driven game that has the player question their ideas of morality, hope and responsibility. It's almost too easy to become invested in the characters and their futures.
The characters themselves made the game as amazing as it is. The player controls Joel (voiced by Troy Baker), who has lost everything in life, and has become a bitter individual irritated by his responsibilities. Every decision the character makes and everything he does completely matches his personality, giving the character authenticity and making him much more lovable to the player.
Ellie (voiced by Ashley Johnson) is your average teenage tomboy, complete with lots of swearing and sarcasm. Throughout the game, she keeps the mood light-hearted with jokes and wit, and the player experiences amazement through her eyes as she experiences the outside world for the first time. She's also proven herself a capable survivor and keeps Joel in check whenever he takes things too far.
The characters are developed slowly throughout the game to become realistic personas that the player can relate to. Because of this, the player almost instantly becomes interested in the story and what will happen to the characters. The story itself is well thought-out, with plot-twists keeping you on your toes and new questions around each corner.
Although the game is classed as a survival-horror, the game encompasses different gaming genres to create a masterpiece that nearly any gamer can appreciate. The game has just enough horror to please fans of the genre, with tense moments and fights with the grotesquely 'Infected', but not too much that it becomes unappealing to people who don't particularly like horror.
What made this game particularly special was that it was driven more by the story than the game mechanics. The game is cinematic enough to be a film, and it'd certainly be interesting to see it transition to the big screen. All in all, it's a great game. Plot-driven games are becoming very popular, and although The Last of Us definitely isn't the first, it's certainly one of the best.