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Sarah Weaver

February 10, 2016
Kati Lewis
Review Analysis of “The Last of Us”

English 2010

In this survival horror game, “The Last of Us”, asks a very
challenging question: what makes life worth living? Through this very
in depth story following Joel and Ellie, this horror game reveals why life
is still significant and why we do not want to give it up.
“The Last of Us”, developed by Naughty Dog and released on the
14th of June 2013, comes a story based on a life twenty years after a
zombie outbreak. In this unforgiving world, we follow our two main
characters: Joel and Ellie. Although zombies are the bread and butter of
this story, it is not
what creates these
main protagonists.
Through the love of
these two main
characters and the
constant fear of being
separated from one
and other, we
gradually see that isolation is one of the real main fears of this
In a world full of the undead, there are many things to fear. In
“The Last of Us”, this game highlights the importance of the love for
others and the fear of being torn away from that feeling. Even though

Sarah Weaver
English 2010
February 10, 2016
Kati Lewis
death is persistently barking at their door, isolation is probably the only
fear that drives the two primary characters. “There is a fine line
between the peacefulness of solitude and the loneliness of isolation”
("Until Dawn").
However, we as viewers, learn very early in the game that loving
someone can easily be one of
the most dangerous things in
this world full of death and
despair. No one knows the fear
of losing a loved one better
than the main protagonist, Joel.
In the beginning, we see that
Joel has become a harsh and
bitter man, unwilling to give
any love to anyone after losing someone he loved at the very
beginning of the outbreak. He has built up a wall for himself; afraid to
lose someone else he loves to his cruel world. The wall is also valuable
to him because he is very much afraid of that soul-crushing fear of
being isolated once again. The story tells that Joel is only living to live
with no real purpose to live, almost like he is already dead inside.
The actual story begins when Joel has no other choice but to be
“burdened” with Ellie, a spunky teenager, after Joel’s partner strikes a
deal with the resistance leader of the Fireflies, “a resistance movement

Sarah Weaver
English 2010
February 10, 2016
Kati Lewis
combating the oppressive martial law” (Welsh). As the story
progresses, we as viewers and Joel cannot avoid growing attached to
her because of that very much active spirit that she posses even
through the zombie apocalypse.
Joel’s deal is to bring Ellie to the Fireflies central base to
somehow find a cure for the zombie infection. Of course, because this
is a zombie-ridden world, the two are bound to find trouble along the
Unlike the rest of the zombie apocalypse games, “The Last of Us”
sets itself apart from the basic dynamics of a “zombie”. In “The Last of
Us”, their “zombies” are called “the infected”. These are humans that
are infected by a fungal disease known as Cordyceps Brain Infection.
Once the infection has reached inside of a human and destroyed the
brain, it makes the undead extremely aggressive and will ultimately
want to infect any person that is not already infected with the
What makes this disease so fascinating is that the Cordyceps
fungus is very real in our world. “The Last of Us” takes the real
Cordyceps fungus and makes it terrifying as it now infects the human
brains when it simply used to only infect measly insects. Much like the
real Cordyceps fungus that infects insects, the Cordyceps Brain
Infection that “The Last of Us” has created, has no other function than
to simply kill and take over a host and to spread its spores. Since this is

Sarah Weaver
English 2010
February 10, 2016
Kati Lewis
a fungal brain virus that spreads spores, this means that not only can it
be transmitted to another person my
fluids, but also by air.
It was clear that the Naughty Dog
team did their research on the fungus
and because of the realism of the
fungal infection; it made the game
twice as more vicious and daunting. In
this horror game, it truly felt like the
infected had the upper hand and the
player may die at any moment.
There are many times the players

are placed in
environments where it's
in total darkness and or
extremely moist where
the infected and the air
born fungus love to play
in. Each corner felt nail
biting because recourses are scarce, and yet the corners somehow
seemed exciting at the same time as you never really know what to
expect since this is a new type of zombie Naughty Dog had created.

Sarah Weaver
English 2010
February 10, 2016
Kati Lewis
The game does take its time to define itself to the players. At the
very beginning of the game, the characters seem plain almost cliché.
The main character Joel is “terse and muted while Ellie, child of the
apocalypse, is too blithe to convince” (Welsh). Even as a shooting
game, it was evident to see that Naughty Dog took a lot from their
previously well-known game, “Uncharted”. Gamers who have played
“Uncharted” can visibly see that there was only little change in their
shooting game format from “Uncharted” to “The Last of Us”.
As the game progresses a few hours in, Joel's blossoming feelings
towards Ellie runs its predictable sequence as Joel begins to have
paternal feelings towards the teenage Ellie. Stories such as “BioShock
Infinite” for example follows this formula. In the story of “BioShock
Infinite”, we follow a protagonist as Booker Dewitt. “The heart and soul
of Infinite is the relationship between Booker and his teenage
companion Elizabeth. This will undoubtedly give you vibes of the JoelEllie dynamic in “The Last of Us”” (themarysue). Much like “The Last of
Us”, Booker and Elizabeth also give the cliché of Booker eventually
wanting to become a paternal figure towards Elizabeth because of the
love he eventually develops for her.
Though the main characters, in the beginning, seem to follow a
recipe used by many other writers, they are not restricted by their
stereotypes, as it is not what defines them. As the story unfolds their
characters clearly become more round and even humanized. The writer

Sarah Weaver
English 2010
February 10, 2016
Kati Lewis
and creative director, Neil Druckmann, shapes both characters with
subtleties and cleverness, using steady “layered detail and dropped
hits, never forcing it.” (Welsh).
Ultimately, the viewers have their own individual feelings
towards Joel and Ellie. Even the love the two had for each other
somehow seemed unique. Towards the ending of the game, it is
evident to see that Joel has finally found something to live for as Ellie
and Joel continue to develop their love.
However, because of Joel's love for Ellie was so strong, he began
to act selfishly as he always wanted her to be with him. Even through
his selfish actions of wanting to be with her, the player ultimately
wants Joel to be self-centered so he can always be together with Ellie,
even if it meant changing the world for the worse. The two were
apparently afraid of losing each other more than the thought of losing
their own life. Their fear of being isolated and being lonesome without
the other was
what drove them
to be together
and live through
their plagued
“The Last
of Us” has

Sarah Weaver
English 2010
February 10, 2016
Kati Lewis
shown what it means to be alive in its unique way. The game certainly
takes its time to get into the players head, but it works for both the
player and the story as it's paced excellently. In a world where we
viewers may find a zombie apocalypse to be too common in today’s
world, “The Last of Us” certainly sets itself apart from other zombie
games. It’s a beautiful survival horror game that should be played if
you have not yet. In this world, where Joel knows that loving someone
may crush or shatter you with loneliness, it could very well be the one
thing left in that world that’s worth living for.

MLA Sites

Petit, Carolyn. "The Last of Us Remastered Review." GameSpot. 28 July 2014. 

Web. 11 Feb. 2016.
"12 Video Games You Should Play If You Like The Last of Us." The Mary Sue 
12 Video Games You Should Play If You Like The Last of Us Comments. Web. 10 

Feb. 2016.
Supermassive Games. Until Dawn. 25 Aug. 2015. Game. United Kingdoms, 

Guildford, Surrey.
Welsh, Oli. "The Last of Us Review." 31 July 2014. Web. 11 
Feb. 2016.