I’m starting this with an apology. It’s been twelve days – and only now have I had the opportunity to write this review. The credits to Part I are rolling as I type, and Gustavo Santaolalla’s poignant soundtrack fills my room. It’s been an experience full of happiness, gleeful nostalgia, angst, fear, frustration, and an endless quest of searching through drawers and cabinets. As is often the case, it’s difficult to know where to begin with these reviews – or rants – as they can sometimes become. So let’s address the elephant (or giraffe) in the room from the get-go. The Last Of Us Part I is remarkable, but there are problems.
Let’s begin with the bugs. In one instance, Ellie crouches in front of an open cabinet door and glitches through it. Objects float in the air, most notably a shotgun and the strap to a helmet. There’s even a moment in the suburbs as Ellie pulls out her trusty joke book to lighten the mood. She begins to speak, but there’s no audio. After about two confused minutes, the laughter has turned to a wince of frustration, Ellie’s dialogue comes through, and she finishes with a joke before closing the book. This highlights the wonky quirks the updated version of The Last Of Us Part I has failed to address.
These issues, however, fail to have any lasting impact on the game, which is otherwise pretty much perfect, and was already a masterpiece. The Last Of Us Part II was a top-tier AAA game, setting a benchmark from a technical and visual standpoint. The Last Of Us Part I receives an intense next-gen facelift in the same way Naughty Dog approached the sequel two years earlier.
As far as the visuals go, the 2014 remaster was already a jaw-dropper. Yet, the predecessor pales compared to the high fidelity and refined detail of Part I. Many of us will find the time flying by simply sweeping across stunning snow-laden vistas and autumnal landscapes to capture the perfect shots with the game’s built-in photo mode. The screenshots placed throughout this review should be evidence of the game’s incredible beauty and breathtaking detail. The environments feel fuller and lusher – from vegetation to water flooding in the graveyards outside Bill’s church.
Then we have the facial animations. Echoing The Last Of Us Part II, these updated facial animations, compared to the remastered version from 2014, are staggeringly realistic. The term life-like comes to mind, and that sums it up best. They say the devil is in the details and stands true for the remake. These improved animations are some of the best ever seen in a video game. The improvements humanise the characters, promoting sympathy for Joel and Ellie in their cutscenes, or fear as we find ourselves transfixed by David’s cold irises gleaming back.
We move on to some of the burning questions hanging over this remake. For weeks, there’ve been stories circulating online about The Last Of Us Part I’s hefty price tag – and whether the $70 asking price will be worth it. Yes. It is. Plain and simple. The most unique thing about The Last Of Us Part I would have to be the factor of replayability. From experience, the remastered version still sits on my shelf, but at least two times a year, the game is back in the console. Since finishing the remake, I’ve learned from other players that I’ve missed so much. With a second play-through, I can pick up on these hidden details.
This is how, at least for me, I justify the price tag. The remake is expensive, and I can understand the frustrations of the wider community, but if, like me, you’ll be ready to play the game in six to ten months, the price tag may not feel as burdening on the bank accounts. Can The Last Of Us Part I be considered superior to its sequel from two years earlier? – not quite. With the advancements in next-gen technology, Part I is in the same league as the earlier sequel, but it’d be hard to justify how it could top it. For one simple reason.
This is not a brand-new game. Not in the way some of us may have imagined. Instead, Naughty Dog has taken the core foundations of the original game and reimagined it with the influence of next-gen technology. This is The Last Of Us Part I’s unique selling point. Best of all, with the PlayStation 5 remake in your library, there’s little reason to go back to the PlayStation 4 edition. Highlights include Joel’s ability to look older than he did in Part II, an immersive experience with the Dualsense controller, and new and improved workbenches.
To conclude this review, The Last Of Us Part I is the best version of a beloved story – and after two years since my last play-through – the first chapter of The Last Of Us story is still the best video game I’ve ever played, and my favourite of all time. For all updates on The Last of Us, stay tuned right here at GameLuster.
Matt played The Last Of Us Part I with his own bought copy on PlayStation 5.