‘The Last of Us’ sets the bar for adaptations


Anthony Addante

‘The Last of Us’ delivers with a faithful adaption

Anthony Addante, Copy Editor

In the past few years, streaming services have attempted to adapt video games into TV shows on multiple occasions. Most of these have been unmitigated disasters that are unpopular with fans of the source material and also haven’t attracted people who didn’t play the original game.

Then, came the Last of Us. There was some worry that this would fall into the same trap as these previous shows mentioned, but it came in and blew everyone away. It’s a faithful adaptation with enough added details to make those story beats hit harder than ever before.

One of the greatest accomplishments that the show achieves is how realistic everything looks and feels. The sets, the infected, it’s all brutally realistic which is in line with the game. It’s amazing to see these brutal and tense moments translated into live action.

Perhaps the most striking setting in the whole game is downtown Boston, and the show replicates this to perfection. Everything visually nearly matches how the game looks, and the scope of everything is breathtaking. One of the best moments in the show was just appreciating the sheer size and scope of the setting.

However, the show isn’t just a one to one replication of the game. It adds extra details and sequences which can’t be covered in the scope of a video game. The fleshing out of the pre-pandemic world and the tense sequences of that impending doom adds an incredible amount to the world.

The show allows us to see new locations, such as Indonesia, in that pre-apocalypse light. In this case, it showed the journey of a premier scientist on the Cordyceps fungus. There was a feeling of impending doom as she analyzed one of the first victims of the fungus.

There was no cure, just as the very first scene gloomily predicted, and so she was left to simply cry and give one suggestion. Bomb the whole city; in this case, Jakarta. This simple scene was able to add an incredible amount in terms of giving a look at that before time. The impending terror is awesomely captured in this scene.

Now, the most key part of any show is the characters and story, and this show doesn’t hold any punches when it comes to emotional beats. The dialogue feels in line with these characters, and the story mainly follows the same line as the game.

In one scene early in the show, we see Joel and Ellie have a scene alone together. Joel undoubtedly has somewhat of a gruff personality at this point of the game towards Ellie, and her rapid-fire personal questions are all stone-walled. That curious nature of Ellie and that concealing nature of Joel is a dynamic that’s massive in the early game especially, and so capturing that budding relationship as she slowly cracks down Joel is great.

There’s also a few changes which most weren’t too excited about. The removal of spores, which was a key plot device in certain parts of the game, was replaced with vines. Spores were actually a main way that the infection would spread in the game, and would occur when there were lots of infected in one enclosed area.

However, this change ended up working extremely well. In the show, stepping on a vine alerts the surrounding infected, and so there’s still that tense nature that the spores provide in the game.

Speaking of, the infected in the show are portrayed perfectly. The tense nature of trying to outmaneuver the infected in an enclosed area still exists and is even amplified by how difficult the show makes it to take down infected. It truly is a gamble every time these characters encounter infected, and it makes it all the more tense.

The infected is one of the details the show didn’t truly change, and they made it work in a way that reflects the truly tense moments that one would face in the game.

The show also creates a balance between the newcomers to the universe and diehard fans of the game. The show is great at explaining details every so often to help guide the people who may not be familiar with the source material, but it doesn’t feel boring as the show is great at implementing it naturally in conversation. In a lot of ways, the viewer learns as Ellie learns.

The show entertains fans of the game and allows them to fall in love with these characters all over again, and brings in new fans to experience this wonderful story for the first time.

This show sets the bar of what an adaptation should be. Faithful, but also adding enough flair to make itself unique