Generation 7 Ends On A High Note: The Last Of Us Hands-On
The game makes you feel like you’re actually exploring a nearly forgotten part of the country. The Last of Us isn’t open-world by any stretch, but as you climb through the wreckage of a once-great city, the routes you take feel organic, the logical outcome of a desperate search rather than simply being boxed into a set route. (Even if, you know, it’s a game that wants you to go in a certain direction.)
All of which frees you up to sink yourself into the creepy-as-hell world that caused Boston’s destruction in the first place. And make no mistake, TLOU aims to creep you out. The demo featured a ton of body horror that distinguishes the ghouls here from the endless zombie parade that is otherwise getting old. Moments of quiet tension give way to sudden attacks with no chance to mull over your reaction to the terrors in front of you. Dark, wet rooms and random corpses gave the experience a mournful pallor. After my playthrough I spent the rest of the day feeling agitated and kind of spooked.
It’s also difficult. That’s partly thanks to the fact that we were dumped in a little bit past the beginning, but I’m forced to assume that even with a few tutorial levels, you’ll still have to take things very slowly to avoid being killed constantly. I spent 10 minutes stuck on a particularly horrible section getting killed because I was detected by a random clicker, who murdered me effortlessly over and over. Add to this the very serious resource rationing, and you get a sense of how much the game forces the player to think tactically. Despite some crafting, this isn’t going to be Dead Space 3′s fake horror run-and-gun.
Of course, we only saw a short snippet, but what we saw makes me hopeful that Naughty Dog’s new franchise plans to go big, regardless of how soon we’re getting Playstation 4. It’s a fitting sendoff to the longest generation in gaming history, but more importantly, it’s a big middle finger to the idea that the only way to sell a game is to make it exactly like every other game. Here’s hoping the risk pays off.