The original Last of Us game marked a groundbreaking achievement for Naughty Dog. The game was released as a whole new IP and introduced us to the lives of Ellie and Joel as they get wrapped up in a dangerous mission to get “the girl” to safety. For many, booting up The Last of Us Part I would not be the first time you have experienced the game. Sony hasn’t been shy milking the game. We had the original on PS3 followed by its Left Behind DLC. After which Sony released The Last of Us Remastered on PS4 as an enhanced experience that included the DLC. Nine years later and The Last of Us Part I is a full remake of the original game built for PS5 and it doesn’t disappoint.
For those wondering, The Last of Us Part I is a direct replica of the original game. The main story is untouched which is expected. The original game set a new standard when it came to video game narratives and the remake further enhances this thanks to its incredible new visuals. The game’s engine shines on the PS5 and makes sure every interaction looks and feels authentic. Cutscenes are especially magical thanks to the new facial animation tech that brings out each character’s emotions through muscle movements and gestures.
I especially noticed these remarkable details during the most intensive cutscenes. Ellie, Joel and the supporting cast look alive as they express sadness, anger and fear. This all helps elevate the experience to a wonderfully strong level of storytelling.
The same goes for the world around the story as every location has been rebuilt with more assets, a new global illumination system and high-resolution textures. The sheer amount of attention to detail across every environment is mindblowing at times and it helps immerse you into the world Naughty Dog was trying to create when they built the original game back on PS3. I could not help but feel the love for these moments when dark areas approached. These scenes are incredibly nerve-wrecking in the game due to the often-intense sneaking and stealth mechanics. Now, you have these environments fully detailed with more assets that help create this denser world, HDR that created these pitch black rooms and these horrific Clickers that sound and look more terrifying than ever before.
It also goes without saying that The Last of Us Part I fully showcases the PS5 in so many ways. The DualSense heightens the experience with taps and nudges to almost every action and the integration of the SSD means that every time I had my throat ripped out by a Clicker, I was back in the action faster than ever. The PS5 has also allowed Naughty Dog to create wonderfully detailed worlds and there’s no shying away from how stunning they are. I especially enjoyed taking in the far distant views in the game as these have seen a lot of attention too. Collapsing buildings look more detailed than in the original game and hills and the outskirts of towns pack some impressive detail.
Of course, The Last of Us Part I does feel like the original game and that is a good and a bad thing. The second game, The Last of Us Part II refined much of the game’s movement systems while also adding new ways to get around. Most importantly, the dodge and roll function. Sadly, The Last of Us Part I doesn’t include this. I am in two minds about it. I want to say “this is the original experience and it should remain untouched”. However, at the same time, the game felt like a step back in movement compared to the original game. The dodge came in handy so many times in Part II and often I felt like it was just natural to try and press a button to avoid a Clicker or thug’s attack. Sadly, it does nothing in this regard.
The first game also suffered from some clunky inventory management systems. Swapping guns to another same-sized version required patience and remembering the various button presses. It is the same case here and it definitely feels aged. Again, this is a remake so it should be authentic but the implementation of these features helped a lot in Part II and they are sorely lacking here.
Naughty Dog focused a lot of attention on the accessibility features in The Last of Us Part I and going into the settings, you’ll find a massive roster of things to tweak. Simple things such as turning off weapon sway or ledge grabbing definitely help those who aren’t able to play games a certain way. There are also some impressive navigation tools such as directional arrows to show where you need to go and even an enhanced listening mode which increases the radius in which you hear enemies.
A lot of these features might even help gamers who don’t particularly need accessibility settings per se. If you feel like breezing through The Last of Us Part I, I won’t judge you if you turn on enhanced listening mode to make enemies clearer when you’re sneaking about. I remember turning on collectable filters in Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart when I could not find the last collectable in the game for my trophy. Great accessibility benefits everyone.
We have definitely moved on as an industry since the launch of The Last of Us Part I and if anything, Part II kind of casted a shadow over the original game. Part I is great but it feels simpler and you can’t blame it. The story is aged, the gameplay is clunky in comparison to today’s standards and the sheer magnitude of the set pieces in Part II makes this game look like child’s play. That doesn’t mean The Last of Us Part I is a game “no one asked for”. I get it. Naughty Dog wanted the game available for the masses. The studio wanted it to look the best because it deserves it. It is an experience you should not miss and playing the remake is the best way to play it.
There are some changes here and there in the game that make made me say “oh cool look at that”. The workbench is a lot more detailed visually than before. There’s also the Speedrun mode where you can clock your best time in the game and even compare it chapter to chapter. You’ll also be able to enjoy the Permadeath mode making The Last of Us Part I an even more stressful experience than before.
Apart from that, there’s nothing remarkably new here besides the game’s visuals and that’s okay. You can tell from the moment the game starts that this is a remake. Every single piece of game detail has been recrafted and it looks incredible. I guess you didn’t really have to fix anything else because the original game was a masterpiece already. With that being said, if you’re holding out for something new, this is definitely not it. This is a remake so expect the same experience as the original. Just a lot more pretty looking.
This The Last of Us Part I review is based on a code sent to us by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The game launches for PS5 on 5 September and starts at R1,135
The Last of Us Part I
Story - 9/10
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Presentation - 9.5/10
Value - 9/10
As expected, The Last of Us Part I is a full remake of the original game and doesn’t bring anything drastically new to the table. It is absolutely gorgeous to look at and showcases the power of the PS5 which feeds into the game’s superb narrative. If you have to play the game once, this is the best way to experience it.
Missing some much-needed mechanics