A common misconception about video game adaptations is that they fail to live up to the high standards set by the original game and that the necessary changes ruin the experience for fans. Not always, but occasionally, you’ll notice that the story doesn’t match up with the actual video game.
The problem is that while video games can tell compelling stories on their own terms, those stories don’t always translate well to other mediums. However, in the case of The Last of Us, we see something that is the complete opposite of what we expected.
The show has been well-liked by critics and has received mainly positive reviews. In fact, it’s been called the “best videogame adaptation ever” by some. According to The Washington Post, the show “places a lot of faith in its source material’s writing”. The writer further goes on to say:
There are scenes throughout the first season that are direct line reads of key scenes from the game. The nine episodes follow the exact same story beats and almost the same locations as the original game too.”
Despite making some changes to the game’s story, Digital Spy still calls it “the first contender for best show of the year,” saying, “While diehard purists might balk at some of these changes, that silence you can hear is us not caring because this show will transcend all that.”
Not just Digital Spy, but even BBC calls it “The Best Video Game Adaptation Ever”. This time, too, the main thing that stood out was how true the show was to the original and how well it captured the show’s essence. This is what the author had to say:
It is a faithful adaptation in everything from look to score to feel, with the early episodes in particular following the game almost beat-for-beat.
GameSpot noted in their 9/10 review that the show doesn’t waste time getting on with a story because, while playing a game, you are in the shoes of the player, but for a show, most people wouldn’t want to watch something that is equally as long, like a 10-minute fight. According to the reviewer, the show also does a great job of understanding and working within the constraints of being a television program.
There are things that only the video game can do, like put players in the boots of Joel, but there are things also unique to television, and The Last of Us shines brightest when it recognizes and leans into these opportunities.”
However, TV Guide notes that “the story occasionally feels rushed,” suggesting that this very quality could be seen as a drawback. The writer continues, saying that “the show could have expanded its perspective beyond the source material even more,” and that “the show is at its best when it goes beyond the game.”
It’s rare that a show lives up to its hype, but when it premieres on HBO Max on January 15, 2023, we’ll finally find out how the public reacts. Till then, we will keep you updated on any information as it becomes available.