In terms of content layout, The Last of Us uses the most specific and most intuitive elements instead of being complicated and sophisticated, but it doesn’t fail.
In 2020, besides the announcement of PlayStation 5, Sony fans and the gaming community are also looking forward to The Last of Us 2 from developer Naughty Dog. Launched in 2013, The Last of Us has fascinated gamers around the world. Experts also do not hesitate to give compliments with wings and plump 10 points for this game. Although there is still debate about the game is overrated, we cannot deny the value and success that The Last of Us has achieved. This is still considered one of the best games of all time.
But what exactly makes this brand so successful? It is not to game based on something groundbreaking or new. It was not the first game to create a sense of cinema by Uncharted 2 – developed by Naughty Dog himself, launched four years before TLoU was born, that made gamers fascinated with the cinematic nature. This is not the first game to focus on the plot and storytelling because Metal Gear Solid, Mass Effect, or dozens of games have done so well before.
I discovered that the success of The Last of Us comes from three main factors. These three elements are ingeniously inserted to the minute throughout the game, continually working together to bring a perfect but straightforward game experience possible.
The first element: determining the focus
For many years now, we can see that game studios are trying to transform themselves into the open-world genre, with loads of activities and side quests. With such games, gamers will take several dozen hours to hundreds of hours to complete. However, this approach’s downside is that it can make firms not determine their game’s focus. They make gamers feel confused, whether they should do the main task or play extra activities. Readers do not misunderstand that I am criticizing open-world games. This is still a great entertainment genre. Still, game companies want to transform themselves according to market demand but have forgotten the capital focus. What is in your game brand? Back on The Last of Us, Naughty Dog determines what he needs to build from the plot, how the focus is, and the guide must go through the entire duration.
The Last of Us is not a short-lived game. A period of 15 to 20 hours is still considered a long time for a linear Campaign part. But importantly, during those 15 to 20 hours, The Last of Us knew precisely what he wanted to do, knew exactly the story he wanted to tell, and Naughty Dog completely wasted no time at all. This is a game with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Post-apocalypse is the context so familiar in the game industry. So it quickly drowned The Last of Us in hundreds of similarly themed games. However, when other games try to address as many problems as possible, trying to create more plot twists or character lines to expand the story, The Last of Us focuses on the duo. Joel and Ellie. Joel and Ellie are the two main characters in the story, so the surroundings are only auxiliary. Fireflies, infected people, cannibals, or everything in the game have the task of highlighting the story between Joel and Ellie. That is the focus that Naughty Dog has identified, and it also helps players feel more easily absorbed in the plot.
Although The Last of Us has many issues, they are transmitted through the two main characters. Every episode in the game, from start to finish, will gradually build the image of Joel and Ellie and their relationship in the player’s head.
The second element: silences
Imagine a game like a piece of music with high notes, low notes. If a song has too many high notes or wants to show off his high voice, the audience will feel extremely tired. Therefore, part of The Last of Us’s success is because Naughty Dog has embedded the bass notes in a very subtle way. It helps players get a good rest when the climax’s story does not make them feel inspired.
The most typical is the famous Giraffe scene. When Joel and Ellie watch the giraffes in the yard, the two of them will not talk about the beauty of life and nature, or they will not confide in how they feel, … Joel and Ellie Simply standing there silently watching the giraffes. It is the right way for players to relax and feel the fantastic scenery on the melodious music.
This scene’s time is not long, but enough for players to understand how far the relationship between Joel and Ellie has gone. From the pain of losing his child, Joel saw Ellie only as a transaction, but now he treated her as his daughter. Naughty Dog didn’t need to let Joel say it, nor did they need to explain how it worked out. The silence in The Last of Us helps gamers feel the healthier and stronger bond between the two.
The post-apocalypse background was inherently stressful, but The Last of Us chose a softer yet more subtle transmission. Naughty Dog knows that such silences will help players feel the plot better than putting in too many explanatory lines.
The last element: the gameplay is simple but well utilized
A game still cannot be called outstanding if there are only a good story and good storytelling. A good game still needs to be based on gameplay. And this is also the last factor that made The Last of Us’s success, making it unique in the gaming industry. The play The Last of Us is absolutely nothing outstanding. This is something to say.
However, while not striking, it adds nicely to the vision of the whole game. Naughty Dog very closely combines action and stealth gameplay. They are too ingenious to create stress levels when dealing with Infected gangs or gangs. The play “nothing outstanding” always puts gamers in a state of tension, still forcing us to sweat and think about overcoming.
The gameplay of The Last of Us is not too complicated, but the game knows how to leverage and promote them when it died and forces players to think maximum how to find a way to take advantage of that mechanism. The game allows players to choose how to play action or stealth, and each method has its advantages and disadvantages. The fact that Naughty Dog makes a character’s hand tremble when shooting can make players feel nervous and have to think about changing directions immediately.
In general, not every game can take advantage of that simple gameplay to make a super product.
Perhaps we are all now praying that The Last of Us 2 will not be delayed once more because we have been waiting for seven years. Although Naughty Dog is currently facing a lot of pressure and difficulties, I believe this will continue to be another fantastic product of this studio.