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The Last of Us TV show does one thing very differently from the games – and I love it

If you’ve played even the first few hours of The Last of Us – you know, as you can now on PlayStation completely free – then you know one thing about Joel. He’s a cracker. The gruff murder father must have thighs like wrought iron. Whether he’s trying to evade a Clicker’s keen hearing by crouching down and moving softly through a ruined library, or crouching down to stay out of sight of some angry FEDRA recruits, the man likes to crouch .

Which game should never become a TV series? We have some strong positions.

But it’s not realistic, right? When was the last time you spent more than 20 minutes in the pouring rain, crouching on your haunches, waiting for your chance to beat a rock-hard guard? Probably never. Even a quick skirmish in a paintball arena – or a cheap, local, run-down laser tag setup in a forgotten industrial area nearby – will show you that crouching and moving for even a few seconds is murder on the legs.

In the game, that’s most of the gameplay: it’s a stealth survival game after all, and staying out of enemy sight and staying still is essential if you want to keep all your limbs intact. Joel is not a spring hen either. He’s 55. I’m 31 and can barely stay hunched over for a minute without my back crying with a million muscle spasms and my spine jutting up against me. Granted, Joel has probably had a few more cardio sessions than I have in his recent past (running away from something infected with the Cordyceps brain infection will do that for a man), but you can’t deny the toll that age takes.

The series runs quite closely with the game.

In an interview with PolygonThe Last of Us TV show co-creator Craig Mazin told the site that the show had to make some changes to the game because it needed to look more realistic than the source material. “Joel is so crouched he would have those huge quads, wouldn’t he?” Mazin explains in the interview. “55 year olds can’t squat for more than three minutes! Toppers! And then their backs give out.”

It’s similar to the constant healing present in the game: if you get shot, beaten by the shuffling undead, or otherwise mess up your body, and you need MacGyver to get a rudimentary med kit together to recover it. stop bleeding and return. on your feet. The show focuses on the threat of violence – not the actual violence itself. It wouldn’t be great TV if 20 minutes of each episode consisted of Joel pouring ethanol on a rag and fingering some pus from an open wound on his shin.

Making the characters more human — and therefore more vulnerable and relatable — is part of what makes The Last of Us such compelling television. As with the game, the stakes are all very human; we watch a man act out his healing and his grief in real time, forced to face the pain he’s been running from for decades. By making his body as understandable as his mind, the show does a deft job of drawing us in and making us care immediately.

promotional art for The Last of Us HBO series.
The casting is very, very good.

That’s why these first two episodes worked so well: they established the stakes, the state of the world, and our characters’ motivations and starting points with minimal ambiguity. Even the least media literate person can watch the show, put the pieces together at this early stage, and have everything lined up nicely for the rest of the journey. And small, knowable details, like how Joel can only take one bullet or “roadie run” for just a few seconds at a time, are integral to establishing and maintaining that illusion.

So far, The Last of Us is up there with some of the best gaming TVs we’ve ever gotten – on a scale with the likes of Arcane, Castlevania, Cuphead or The Witcher. If the series continues on this momentum, it will probably be remembered as one of the very best there has ever been. Let’s just hope he has the legs for it.

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