Last week I made it my mission to finish The Last of Us before the end of 2013, since I felt like I should have had it finished months ago (but didn’t because of a save bug taking the wind out of my sails
I still haven’t finished it but I’m reasonably sure I’m in the closing act of the story. I feel like playing it so far removed from the release date has allowed me to formulate my opinion on the game without getting caught up in any hype, and I think it holds up pretty well.
The game always has you struggling for supplies (most prominently ammo), which forces you to take your time, plan out your approach to encounters and thoroughly search environments. There’s always this feeling of tension when enemies are around, regardless of how well-equipped you are, and I think that really works in the game’s favor since the story is so strongly focused on how bad things have gotten for people after the end of the world. It also makes every encounter feel like a strong challenge, without ever really feeling unfair – and it’s usually accommodating enough that a less skilled player (AKA me) can still scrape through without feeling cheated.
The game does pull some bullshit occasionally – certain enemy types can instantly kill you with no way for you to escape if they get close enough to you, and there are several scripted moments where you are forced into a surprise confrontation, which by all rights, shouldn’t have happened if the game didn’t just spawn some dudes round a corner. But these moments are rare enough and predictable enough that you can usually recover from or avoid them; and if you can’t, the game’s checkpoint system is quite forgiving.
I’ve really enjoyed the story that’s been told so far. I won’t go too much into it to avoid discussing spoilers, but I feel that the writing here is a notch above the standard of most games: the bleak tone is explored quite thoroughly, and I love how the main characters and their interactions with the world and each other change over the course of the game.