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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kennesaw chapter.

The Last of Us is one of my favorite video games. It was created by a gaming company named Naughty Dog which also developed the Uncharted series–another well beloved franchise. The game takes place in the middle of a zombie apocalypse where we meet Joel, a very tired and emotionally closed off survivor, who is hired to smuggle Ellie, a sarcastic and foul mouth 14-year-old, out of a military quarantine zone. The Last of Us is famously known for its intriguing characters, gorgeous environments, violent gameplay, and most of all its great storytelling.

Recently, the game was adapted into a series on HBO Max and aired its first episode on January 15, 2023. Of course, there were some complaints from fans and non-fans alike about how some of the actors looked nothing like their game or how the show was going to change everything and ruin the franchise which is fair because there have been many adaptions of video games that didn’t do so well. However, the show has been getting a lot of praise.

One of the things I like about The Last of Us is the setup of when the outbreak is about to happen. It starts when the episode opens with a host talking to two epidemiologists: Dr. Neumen and Dr. Scheonheisis. Dr. Neuman explains how there’s a fungus that can control the minds of ants until it devours them from the inside; He then goes on to say that the same type of fungus can affect humans and turn them into “billions of puppets with poisoned minds permanently fixed on one unifying goal to spread the infection to every last human alive” (HBO Max “The Last of Us” show). We see this nightmare coming true throughout the episode: people coughing, the abundance of police and firefighters all over town, planes flying too low to the ground, stores closing, and even dogs whining. All this tension gives the viewers a sense of unease and sets the tone for the rest of the series. Especially after the world literally has an outbreak.

Another thing I particularly enjoy about this show is that it not only doesn’t stray too far from the original characters in the game, but it also gives them more depth.  In the game, Sarah fixes Joel’s watch on his birthday, but it never specifies how or where she got the money to get it fixed. In the show, Sarah takes money from Joel’s drawer and goes to a clock store after school to get it fixed. Through his conversations with Sarah, we find out that Joel is often forgetful, he doesn’t care for himself, and he works all day. When Tommy calls Joel to get him out of jail it indicates that Tommy is usually getting into trouble which results in Joel bailing him out. There were even a few scenes where Sarah helps out her neighbors. Added details like this really add more characters and the story in ways the game didn’t. It makes people feel more connected and emotionally invested with the characters as we see that before the outbreak these were just normal people living their normal lives.

The acting in The Last of Us is also what makes the episode a good first step of the series. Nico Parker–the actor who plays Sarah–really nails her role. She captures her wittiness and the wholesome relationship she has with her dad. Her acting really shines when Sarah dies in Joel’s arms. It’s even more heartbreaking to hear the screams and wails of a girl clinging to life as her dad desperately tries to save her. The scene accurately captures the devastation, loss, and brokenness Joel felt in the first The Last of Us game that will essentially be the turning point in his life. Bella Ramsey is also another great actor in the show. She plays Ellie, a girl Joel will soon meet and is tasked to smuggle out of the city.  She captures Ellie’s personality well from her crude language to her sense of boldness and wittiness. We can see that when she meets Marlene for the first time, when she must follow Joel out of the city, and when she stabs a FEDRA soldier in the knee to avoid being killed.

The Last of Us is an example of how to adapt a video game, or any other media, to a tv show correctly. Although there are slight changes, the show doesn’t make fans and new viewers feel like they are watching a totally different show. It captures the intensity and darkness the game embodied, while also telling an endearing story about loss, hope, and protecting the people you love most. It’s a great start to the show; I highly recommend it if you’re a long-time fan like I am, or someone who simply wants something new to watch.

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Gahnique Bell

Kennesaw '25

Hey guys! My name is Gahnique Bell and I am an English Major and a Film Studies Minor here at Kennesaw State University! I'm essentially a huge nerd who loves to read, write, draw, play video games, and watch tv shows/movies! I also love to explore different places, learn about new things, and enjoy the company of my friends and family!