The Last of Us, the critically acclaimed video game developed by Naughty Dog and personal favourite game of mine has been adapted into a television series by HBO, with what seems to be a Game of Thrones sized budget. This HBO show marks a very significant moment in the history of video game adaptations, as it breaks the curse of subpar adaptations which have plagued the industry for decades.
For years, live action video game movies and TV shows have been met with lackluster reception (at best), with many failing to capture the essence of the original source material. Some attempts have been outright insulting to fans of the games who came before it (looking at you Assassin’s Creed). However, The Last of Us on HBO is seemingly looking to completely change this narrative. The series has assembled a talented team of writers, including the game’s creative director Neil Druckmann, and a powerhouse cast led by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey who are absolutely phenomenal in their roles of Joel and Ellie respectively.
One of the reasons that The Last of Us is breaking the curse of video game adaptations is its strong source material. The game’s emotional and gripping story, as well as its complex characters, provide a solid foundation for the series to build upon. Additionally the game’s developer, Naughty Dog, is heavily involved in the production of the series, ensuring that the spirit of the game is captured on screen, marking a first in this type of thing.
You only need to listen to the accompanying podcast that releases alongside each episode to understand how much these creators just absolutely love the games, it’s so clear that Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) is just such a fanboy of the games and this bleeds through the quality of the show.
Another factor that sets The Last of Us on HBO apart from other video game adaptations is its medium. While film and TV are both visual mediums, television allows for more time to develop characters and tell a more intricate story. The Last of Us is a story spanning two decades, and television provides the perfect format to fully explore the narrative. Changes that are being put in place are done so with full respect of the story to help viewers understand more of the motivations behind the beloved characters. Some changes are being made simply to create more suspense, horror and tension for the viewers; the early parts of episode one showing this excellently by using the time where a player would learn to crouch, walk and throw a bottle to instead build increasing tension and horror for the show
In conclusion, The Last of Us on HBO has the potential to break the curse of video game adaptations. With a talented team, a strong source material, and the perfect medium to tell the story, the series is poised to be a success. Fans of the game and newcomers alike are sure to be impressed by the adaptation, and it may even set a new standard for video game adaptations going forward. If the remainder of the episodes continue with even 50% of the premieres quality then we will be in for a phenomenal time.
Written by Luke.