Arts & Culture

Review: “The Last of Us” Video Game Turned Hit Series

Percy Bartelt, staff writer

On Jan. 15, HBO Max released the first episode of their new show “The Last of Us.” Any avid gamer would recognize this title, and many expressed their excitement to see their beloved apocalyptic horror game turned into an actual TV series — myself included! As of now, there are three episodes released to the streaming service out of the nine planned for the first season. 

Leading up to its release, the trailers were everywhere, and that only boosted my personal excitement to finally watch it. “The Last of Us” series stars “the Mandalorian” himself, Pedro Pascal, playing Joel Miller, the rough and grumpy Texan that is ready for action when shit hits the fan. Co-starring is “Game of Thrones” actor Bella Ramsey playing the fourteen-year-old Ellie, where they do an amazing job capturing Ellie’s stubbornness yet childlike wonder about an unfamiliar world — despite all its dangers. Ramsey has recently come out on social platforms stating that she is non-binary and genderfluid without any preference for pronouns! Both Ramsey and Pascal are perfect fits, both visually and skill-wise, achieving the perfect vibe and successfully encapsulating their characters from the video game. Not only them, but the other cast members are amazing as well, like Tess who is played by Anna Torv, and Riley, Joel’s daughter in the show, played by Storm Reid. 

Getting into the story, I knew some of the elements that were going to happen, but it was still an incredible watch. You definitely do not have to know the game in order to watch this series, which makes for a wider reach of audience. Without spoiling anything outside of what the trailers have shown, the series is set in the ‘90s in the Texas suburbs following Joel’s daughter, Riley. Through the course of the story setup, there are multiple news reports on violent behavior, and they only continue to grow, until one night a national emergency is called, but we get no explanation. Very quickly we see the suburbs starting to dismantle with more and more reports of mysterious monsters wreaking havoc, forcing Joel and his family to flee. Nearing the end of the first episode, there is a time skip to many years later and we’re now following Joel in a dystopian environment. A city blockaded to protect people from the monster on the outside. The monsters being fungus-infested humans that want nothing more than to feast.

I HAVE to comment on the makeup artistry for the zombies themselves — I cannot even begin to explain just how incredibly well-made they are! Because the zombies are infested with all sorts of mushroom colonies and deadly fungus, the artists based the zombies’ design off of all sorts of species. I should also point out that the choreography and unique movement that the zombie actors do is insane and creepy as hell.

Watching the first two episodes, especially back-to-back, was an amazing experience. In my opinion, the show successfully paid homage to its original video game, especially with its characters and actor choices. And from what I have seen, with IMDb at 9.5/10 and Rotten Tomatoes at an amazing 97%, everyone agrees that this show is mind-blowing! Be sure to catch new episodes of “The Last of Us” every Sunday at 8 p.m. CST on HBO or HBO Max.