The last of us (opens in new tab) isn’t coming to PC for another few months – it’s slated to launch on Steam on March 3rd, a full decade after its original PS3 debut. However, the TV adaptation will arrive next week, and by all reports, it’ll be a very good way to get your Naughty Dog fix while you wait for the game to arrive.
Movies based on video games haven’t exactly set the world on fire, but it’s been a very different story in recent years with television adaptations. Shows like Mysterious (opens in new tab) and Cyberpunk: Edge Runners (opens in new tab) have received much acclaim, the Halo TV series (opens in new tab) isn’t bad (and it gave us the chance to do this (opens in new tab)), and while Ee (opens in new tab) Witcher series on Netflix is based on the books and not the games, I claim it as one of ours anyway.
If the critical response is any indication, The Last of Us will join those ranks, and arguably be the best television rework to date. It has a 98% rating on it Rotten tomatoes (opens in new tab) over dozens of critics’ reviews, and enjoy breathtaking superlatives like:
- “A Triumphant and Heartbreaking Video Game Adaptation” – Damn disgusting
- “Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey Are Perfect in HBO’s Faithful Adaptation” – The cover
- “The Last Of Us is the greatest video game adaptation ever, but it’s so much more” – Gizmodo
- “The Last of Us is a sprawling, emotional epic that captures the spirit of the game while expanding the story in surprising and rewarding ways.” – Screen Rant
- “Everything a great adaptation should be” – Collider
- “HBO’s masterful ‘The Last of Us’ is the greatest video game adaptation ever” – The everyday beast
- “A thrilling, character-driven performance for game fans and newcomers alike” – Slash movie
- “Easily the best video game adaptation ever made: one that deepens the game’s dystopian lore while staying true to its emotional core” – Empire (opens in new tab)
- “HBO’s The Last of Us stays true to the game and hits just as hard” – Washington Post
- “The Best Video Game Adaptation Ever” (Do you see a pattern here?) – BBC
- “The first video game adaptation that can stand on its own” – Sports illustratedbecause apparently they’re doing game stuff now too.
#TheLastOfUs is a finer version of ‘The Walking Dead’ – and HBO’s next big hit https://t.co/AUdI7PNh7pJanuary 10, 2023
First ratings are in for #TheLastOfUs – currently it’s 100% #Fresh on the #Tomatometer, with 28 ratings: https://t.co/Kl2ea45dh8 pic.twitter.com/oWVpPXP5FkJanuary 10, 2023
‘The Last of Us’ Review: Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in HBO’s Powerful Video Game Adaptation https://t.co/PETRH29JgRJanuary 10, 2023
there’s an early episode of The Last of Us that every reviewer will be talking about, and when it airs I think everyone will be talking about it too. that one episode alone, imo, almost justifies the whole project. it’s very very good. https://t.co/tPkacR7swMJanuary 10, 2023
Of course, the show isn’t perfect. The BBC said in its review that some scenes “feel too gamey for television”, while the second half of the series feels a bit rushed. And of course, the intensity of being “immersed in that world” via gameplay is missing from the non-interactive version of the story.
“And yet it doesn’t even feel remotely controversial to call this the best video game adaptation ever,” wrote reviewer Stephen Kelly, steering things back to the “fairly close to perfect” job. “For fans of the game, it’s an adaptation of the utmost skill and reverence, yet an opportunity to surprise; for people who’ve never picked up a controller before, it’s an encapsulation of the heart and soul of the game – the thoroughbred characters, its neat plot, its mature themes of love and loss, it is, to finish Ellie’s joke, “excellent in its field.”
That’s not bad, is it? Critics aren’t foolproof and your mileage may vary, but seeing this kind of consensus across the board should make you think they might be onto something.
The Last of Us debuts in the US on HBO (opens in new tab) and HBO Max on January 15, and in the UK on Sky Atlantic and Now on January 16. Fair warning to PC gamers planning to play The Last of Us for the first time in March: while the TV adaptation apparently deviates from the game in some ways I suspect it will still give away key story moments, so maybe want to you avoid the show until you’re completely caught up.