Being 27 and miserable, I thought the days of me being absolutely immersed in a game to the point of playing it until 3am were over. And I was right - until I started playing The Last Of Us: Remastered (TLOU).
Just to provide some context, I normally play games waaaaaaaaaaaay after they have already come and gone from the front pages of all of the digital stores. Partially due to a lack of focus on my part but also because I simply cannot afford getting every brand new game that gets released. But I saw TLOU available on the PSN Store for a criminally small amount of money and I'd heard good things about it. Although I took the good things I'd heard about it with collosal amounts of salt as I hadn't enjoyed Naughty Dog's other massive success; the Uncharted series. A mix of not really liking the characters as well as having zero interest in the gameplay that was "heavily inspired" by a bunch of other franchises left me feeling lukewarm about the game as a whole.
That wasn't the case with TLOU. From the start it grabbed me. The presentation of the struggle in the prologue to the initial gun fights awakened a fun feeling I hadn't experienced in a single player campaign in quite some time. All I could think was "Oh shit, I'm going to have some really late nights now." And I did. The classic yearning to just get through one more area or see one more bit of progression of the story led to my eyeballs being very unhappy with me.
There are a million things that I could gush about with this game, but they've all been thoroughly gushed over already. I just want to talk about one or two aspects that really caught attention.
Firstly; the feeling in combat. Now a lot was made about the firefights in the game during the marketing campaign and interviews leading up to launch, but I always thought that was just empty developer speak. Just something to convince players that the game wasn't the same old third person cover shooter that had been made a million times already. But oh my God, were those firefights brutal!
The feeling of ferocity that game puts into the guns and projectiles, and even the melee weapons, is incredible. You don't just sneak up on someone and choke them, you really fuck them up! And when you get shot you actually think "Oh balls! I've been shot!", instead of the usual "Lets see how much of this I can tank before I have to take cover again." The game instills a feeling of desperation and savagery that very few other games can match. It makes every firefight feel like it's potentially your last, and makes you feel like you need to make use of every tool available to you. It's basically Die Hard but in the post apocalypse.
The second aspect I want to gush about that I think sets TLOU apart from most other games is the delivery of the personalities of the protagonists, as well as the story as a whole. The game uses cutscenes, just as many others do, but it also makes use of gameplay and in-game dialogue to get across what our protagonists are like. The off hand comments both characters make as you progress through an area, or look at certain objects gives us great insight into their thoughts and desires.
And one other thing that TLOU does well with the story that a lot of other story focused games fail to do is to keep things clear. At all times you know what is happening, what the character motivations and goals are and why they are doing what they are doing. There are so many games that have a good story going only for events to take a sudden left turn, or for a character to do something completely out of the blue that makes no sense, and it derails the entire experience. Joel and Ellie always stay in character, say the kinds of things they would say and perform actions that their characters would make. They feel like complete and fully realised individuals.
Long story short, I loved this game and it is easily one of my favourite single player experiences. Ever.