In a weird way, The Last of Us has nothing to do with gnarly-looking, fungus-infected, brain-dead humans who want nothing more than to rip the flesh from your face as you trek across the rural U.S. in search of answers. That’s why, early on in development, Naughty Dog hesitated over even including them in the game that’s since sold 17 million copies in five years.
The Last of Us is, instead, very much about the familial bond between a man, Joel, and a girl, Ellie, over a 15-hour journey of stealth and shooting. It’s also the representation of a teenager coming into her own, and coming to terms with what her presence in a post apocalyptic world means as she discovers and grapples with the varying sides of a humanity under threat. And it’s the representation of a man overcoming the emotional baggage of having once been a father, restructuring his life, and then growing to embrace becoming a father figure.