The most ‘realistic’ game I’ve played
I was watching JackSepticeye play through The Last of US 2 recently and was blown away by how great the game seemed. After his first few hours of gameplay I realised I had a copy of Last of Us (1) a friend gave me a while back and I’d not yet played. And so I began.
It’s very much a Naughty Dog game, a lot like Uncharted; it’s more of a playable movie. Set in a post-apocalyptic world following a zombie-like pandemic (topical!) that infected the majority of the worlds population and put the survivors into a dog-eat-dog culture.
The story follows a guy who ends up with a young girl called Ellie who turns out to be immune, and they go on a year long quest to get her to a resistance force who might be able to do something with her ability. A few sections are played as Ellie in moments where they are separated, which acts as a nice break and fills in the other half of the story nicely.
What sets this game apart, other than looking amazing (Last of Us 2 on PS4 pro had the most impressive visuals I’ve ever ever seen in a game) is the realness of the world I which you play. Every little detail is thought out, you have to walk everywhere and travelling around areas can take time, with intermittent bursts of world exploration and fights with infected or other bands of people. But its the fine details that bring the world to life. They went above and beyond to make it feel real and there are just enough real life constraints that push it into the uncanny valley zone.
The story is gripping and well paced, and the violence is realistic to a fault - I’ve never felt more disturbed playing a game. The realism of murder in this game is shocking, as it would be if you were put in a situation like this in real life. It makes you feel bad, not good. Violence is not glorified, it’s just necessary to survive in this world they’ve created and to continue along the characters story path. Even your character is not a ‘good guy’, he’s not bad either; he has a moral compass, but he makes choices that many will disagree with, not to mention murdering a few hundred people in the game.
I’ve felt immersed, entertained and impressed by games many times. This is the first time I have felt like I’ve engaged with an experience I can imagine being real, in the same way you can from a movie. Games tend to be fantasy based, and real-world game environments are more simulation like than engaging. Naughty Dog’s thing is combining realistic with engaging, and they achieved it in spades with this game.
Many video games have stories written into them, this was a story that had a game built around it, and taking that approach had a profound impact. It had an affect on me I’ve not experienced before, and I’ll remember for a long time.
I also feel well prepared should a zombie apocalypse occur.
I look forward to forgetting everything I watched of the sequels play-through, and playing it myself in a few years time.