‘Bigger, scarier, unforgettable’ – The Last of Us game is perfect for TV
The horror sequences are more vivid, the storytelling explores new worlds and it turns a familiar tale into something that grips you all over again. It’s the dream video game adaptation
When it comes to video-game adaptations, TV and film producers have historically had an unfortunate habit of using the game as a kind of Mad Libs prompt for something completely unrelated. Characters you’ve spent 30 hours getting to know in a game might remain in name and appearance only, given personality transplants to fit into new, incongruous plots. There has been an endemic lack of respect for video games from decades’ worth of film-makers who, in the words of games satire site Hard Drive News, have been excited to take a beloved franchise and adapt it into something not for dumb little babies.
HBO’s The Last of Us finally marks the end of this era. There’s been a shift in the tenor of game adaptations in the past few years; you could tell that Detective Pikachu was written by huge Pokémon fans, Cyberpunk 2077’s Netflix series was actually better than the game, and the plot of Paramount’s TV version of the military space-opera Halo is just as ponderous and self-important as the games. But the close involvement of The Last of Us co-creator Neil Druckmann in the TV series takes HBO’s adaptation to another level. The Last of Us doesn’t just preserve the premise and characters of the game; it tells us something new about them.