Never played the game? Here’s what you need to know before watching The Last of Us, the new HBO show everyone is talking about.
The excitement for HBO’s upcoming adaptation of The Last of Us has been palpable. Based on the critically-acclaimed video game of the same name, the show promised to bring the post-apocalyptic world of the game to life in a whole new way, marking it as one of the most highly-anticipated television events of the year.
It feels like just yesterday when we first explored the barren post-apocalyptic world of the hit game that took the world by storm. Now, we’ll get to visit the dystopian version of a United States in ruins (not that far off from reality, now that we think about it) on the television screen once again.
The show will be following the same story and characters as the game, but with some changes to the plot, and additional characters. It will also have a more in-depth exploration of the characters’ backstories, which were only hinted at in the game, and will give more information about the world and the outbreak.
The last time we watched a video game remake was with
our the Internet’s boyfriend, Tom Holland, for the film adaptation of Uncharted. Now, we video-game enthusiasts can look forward to nine hour-long episodes with leads Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, who play main characters Joel and Ellie respectively.
Before we join the duo on their adventure on the silver screen, here are three things you should know about the show before you tune in.
1. The Story: World War Z Meets Contagion, But More Epic
Like the game, HBO’s adaptation takes place in a world where a fungus has infected much of the human population, turning them into violent, zombie-like creatures known as “the infected.” The show revolves around Joel, a deeply hurt and hardened father who had lost his daughter to the pandemic, and 14-year-old Ellie, a bright orphan whose worldview is restricted to this post-apocalyptic world. Joel, now a smuggler, is tasked with escorting the young girl across the country in hopes of finding a group of resistance fighters known as the Fireflies. It’s kill or be killed. Having discovered Ellie’s immunity to the fungus, the Fireflies, an anti-governmental organisation, seek to use her to produce a vaccine. As Joel agrees to smuggle her to this medical facility, the duo’s journey across America begins.
The show will be following the same story and characters as the game, but with some changes to the plot, and additional characters. It will also have a more in-depth exploration of the characters’ backstories, which were only hinted at in the game, and will give more information about the world and the outbreak. Viewers follow along their journey of heartache and sacrifice, which simultaneously tests the boundaries of their morality.
2. The Show Boasts a Familiar, Star-Studded Cast
Seeing some familiar faces? Fans of another HBO hit, Game of Thrones, will be sure to celebrate the casting of the lead characters. Fan favourites Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell) and Bella Ramsey (Lyanna Mormont) play Joel and Ellie. Based on their scene-stealing performances on the show, we have absolutely no doubt that they will be able to bring the necessary acting chops to pull off the weighty roles. We’ve seen both Pascal and Ramsey deliver emotional and feisty performances before, and already know they will kill it in their roles.
Other familiar faces and voices include Marlene, leader of the rebel group the Fireflies, played by Merle Dandridge (who also voiced her in the game), and Tess, played by Anna Torv of Fringe fame. Some of the game’s main voice actors have returned to act in small roles on the show, including Troy Baker (voice of Joel), Ashley Johnson (voice of Ellie), and Jeffrey Pierce (voice of Tommy).
3. It Will Be a (Mostly) Faithful Adaptation Featuring More World-Building
As we all know, video game adaptations have always been a hit-or-miss, from the riveting hit Arcane: League of Legends to the more cringy flops like Resident Evil. Hence, we’re sure fans are waiting with bated breath to see if this show will stay true to its original source and give the fans what they want. In short, it’s highly likely so. The show takes reference material from not only the 2013 release of the game, but also an Ellie-centric prequel, The Last of Us: Left Behind, and possibly even The Last of Us: Part II, set 5 years after the first game. In fact, loyal fans of the franchise can even recite lines from the game as they’re being said in the show. We appreciate the keen effort! One of the most exciting things about the show is that it will be directed by the game’s creator, Neil Druckmann. This will ensure the adaptation to stay true to the game’s vision. He will also be working closely with Craig Mazin, the showrunner, to make sure the show captures the game’s spirit and themes.
They promised to even add scenes not in the game that help to “enhance” the show, stating in an interview that “designed to fill things out and expand.” This means that fans of the game will have a lot to look forward to, but it also means that newcomers to the franchise will be able to enjoy the show on its own terms. Viewers can expect a more in-depth and genuine exploration of the relationship between characters, especially between the grieving, broken father who has faced immeasurable loss as a result of the infections, and the tough, brilliant orphan born into this apocalypse. Without the restrictions of having to designate quests and force action like in games, the deepening of the bond and the emotions felt between Joel and Ellie as they travel across America will certainly be expressed and felt more profoundly on-screen.
HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us is shaping up to be a post-apocalyptic epic that promises to explore the themes of love, sacrifice, and the cost of survival. The show will have a different tone than the game, and will focus more on character-driven drama than survival horror.
Stream or download The Last of Us on HBO GO. Subscribe to HBO GO online here, the mobile app via the App Store or Play Store for S$9.99/month, or via StarHub, Singtel and meWatch.