The Mona Lisa of the modern gaming generation. It really is an amazing piece of artwork and has one of the most gripping and emotional narrative I have ever come across in a game. Released in 2013 by Sony Computer Entertainment and developed by a company we all love, Naughty Dog, they really know how to knock our socks off and they did so with this game. Honestly, I cannot find any faults with this game and you probably wont find many gamers who will. The game is set in a post apocalyptic world where a strain of fungus (Cordyceps) has mutated into controlling human hosts when infected. The fungus itself is based on a real life fungus whose spores infect insects and grow into their brains killing the host but reanimating it for a short period of time to spread more spores into more hosts. In the game the mutated fungus turns its hosts into cannibalistic creatures who will stop at nothing to infect you or kill you, they are referred to as “Clickers” owing to the clicking sound they make after the fungus completely disfigures the hosts head into this:
Concept art of a Clicker
They really are indescribable and are quite terrifying once you come across one of them.
The narrative starts during the day one outbreak, you follow Joel and his experience with the outbreak. The opening sequence is extremely emotional so I wont spoil it for you, but lets say it is definitely full of “feels”. You do get to play a part in the opening sequence and you control his daughter and then Joel himself in this part of the game. It really gives you a great depiction on how modern society would deal with a viral/fungal outbreak. Once you have finished the highly emotional opening sequence it fast forwards twenty years and society has barely survived, the world has been reclaimed by nature and humanity has been reduced to small settlements as the fungus has claimed majority of the worlds population. Joel and the rest of the surviving inhabitants of a small settlement he is now part of has to scavenge to survive barely able to keep the growing epidemic at bay. The scavenging becomes a major aspect of game as you make use of the surrounding resources to explore and fight off any enemies. The remaining survivors have retreated into quarantine zones which are heavily policed. Joel becomes a smuggler with Tess in the Boston quarantine zone and eventually comes across the infamous “Fireflies” a rebel militia group who are opposed to policed quarantined zones. Enter Ellie a rebellious teenager who is apparently immune to the infection. She immediately becomes humanity’s only chance at creating a cure and the survival of the human race. The story-line focuses on Joel and Ellie’s relationship and the quest to bring her to a facility where she can be used to develop a cure for the infection. Their relationship becomes a massive focal point of the game as you really grow attached them both, their struggles and the impending feeling that not all is what it seems in regards to this facility. As the player you want nothing more than to help both these deep intriguing characters to live happily ever after in this harsh now unforgiving world that they have been thrown into.
The graphics and audio are exceptional as expected for a top end game and really makes you feel part of their ongoing struggle. Despite the horrifying Clickers and monsters, the overgrown scenery and detail is beautiful, you really feel like you are there. Here is an example of the graphics to expect:
An artistic design of a location in the post-apocalyptic United States:
Audio in the game adds to the immersion and gives you a feeling of playing an interactive film with brilliant actors and a quality screenplay/script. It adds to the suspense, terror and even awe in many of the numerous different environments and situations you find yourself in.
The gameplay is really impressive, you play in third person controlling either Joel or Ellie depending on the situation. Just like any survival horror or RPG you rely on scavenging and crafting to make weapons and health kits to help you progress. Depending on the difficulty you chose at the beginning of the game determines how often you come across resources making it a real challenge for the most seasoned of gamer. During the game both Joel and Ellie work together (including some friendly NPCs you come across) to overcome obstacles and combat making their teamwork invaluable to completing the game even indirectly adding to the relationship between the player and the two protagonists as you increasingly understand how hard life is now and the only way forward is to work together. There are a fair selection of weapons both craftable and obtainable giving you many methods to avoid detection and to protect yourself from any enemy. The mostly destructible environment assists in protecting you and even becomes integral in formulating strategies to take on the most hardiest of enemies.
Overall, I give this a 10/10, this game really is deserving of all the accolades and Game of Year awards, its impressive and gripping in every aspect. Once you have played this game you can understand why it is so critically acclaimed and deserving of high ratings. I cant fault it and I am extremely excited for its sequel.
Hope you enjoyed the read!