How does “The Last of Us” live up to its game counterpart?

Wade Wiser, Contributing Writer

HBO Max released their new television series The Last of Us a couple weeks ago to instant commercial and critical acclaim. The series follows Joel (Pedro Pascal), a man escorting a young girl named Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across the United States. They travel with hopes of discovering a cure for an ongoing fungal infection that turns humans into flesh-devouring monsters. If action isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, don’t worry for it takes a backseat to the characters, their development, and their stories. 

What many people did not know about The Last of Us is that it is based on a video game of the same name, originally released on June 14, 2013. Almost ten years ago, also to financial and critical acclaim, as it has been ported and remade to modern video game consoles. It is recognized almost universally as one of the best video games of all time, and I couldn’t agree more.

The show differs from the video game quite a bit. Most of the small differences revolve around the characters we see. Whether it be deaths of certain characters, more backstory added to characters overlooked within the game, or the origins of the virus, they are welcomed additions. 

One major change is the addition of the character “Kathleen” in episode four and five, who is the main villain of these episodes. She is the leader of a resistance in Kansas City, who revolted against the government that were treating them horribly. She has her own reasons for hunting down our main duo, and is a very real human threat – a good break from the threat of the zombies.

With the most notable change being in episode three of the show. In the show we are introduced to Bill and Frank, a survivalist and a wandering artist who fall in love in the apocalypse. They live in a fortified secluded town, and have been on their own for about 20 years. The entire 75 minute episode is dedicated to learning about these characters, and their journey together. In the game, there is only Bill, no Frank. Bill still lives in a town that he has fortified, living by himself, content with his life. He helps you, the player, fight through the streets to find a car battery so your journey can continue. This portion of the game is much more action-oriented when compared to how the show portrays it. Does this inherently make the game adaptation worse than the shows? No, I don’t think so. I believe this is better for it being a game, and I believe how the series did it is better for it being a show. In the game, character development and touching stories are always welcome, but first and foremost it is a game, and players expect to play the game and not just watch cutscenes. 

Overall, after experiencing the show up until episode six of the show, (which is all that is currently out) and playing through the game I can confidently say that the parts the show has changed are welcome additions to the world of The Last of Us. Though it is not completely faithful to the game, that is not inherently a bad thing. Like I said before, the parts they changed make the show more enjoyable and I believe the show creators should not be ostracized for making these changes. Overall if I had to choose one, and this is partly biased because of how much it influenced me, I would have to choose the game over the show. But the show has yet to finish, and very well may take that top spot.