The Last of Us Part 1 review: Leave a pretty corpse

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The question of whether a game is worth the money it costs to play is always part of evaluating it. Each game’s artistic merits and fun factor are most important, probably because they’re easiest to talk about in general terms. After all, every player and their wallet is different. But the question of whether a game is worth the price tag (and the price tags are getting bigger) sometimes requires more focus. Such a case? The last of us part 1.

Players have been questioning the value of this game since before it was officially revealed. After all, The Last of Us debuted just nine years ago, and it’s already been re-released in a “better” form once before. While it remains one of the most critically acclaimed games ever made, a creeping sense of whether another release was really necessary colored its launch – especially since it launched with a $70 sticker price.

Joel and Ellie look good, if not very different, in the upgraded The Last of Us.

So let’s tackle the clicker in the room, shall we? While again, every player’s needs and disposable income are different, I can break down what you get for the price. I can also identify which groups of players are most likely to benefit from this new, glorious The Last of Us.

Those who need accessibility

Let me be blunt: If you need accessibility features, you should absolutely buy The Last of Us Part 1. The suite of features on offer is extensive. If you wanted to play this game when it launched in 2013 but couldn’t, then Naughty Dog has your back this time.

Accessibility features this time include (but are not limited to):

  • Customizable and alternative control schemes
  • Full HUD customization
  • Navigation options for blind or partially sighted players
  • Text-to-speech options and subtitles
  • Combat adjustments to avoid certain scenarios
  • Hints and difficulty adjustments
Tess is one of the few character models to get a major overhaul.

The accessibility features are worth the price of admission. I’m by no means an accessibility expert – and I’m sure there’s still more the developers could do to improve the experience – but the original Last of Us didn’t have most of these options. For the users who need them, these will probably go a long way to let you enjoy The Last of Us Part 1.

Whichever of these options players need, whether it’s one or all, they’re worth having, for this game and as many others as possible. For those lucky enough not to need these options, I am not rushing this recommendation to you.

The new players

The other category of players who might be best suited for Part 1 are those who have yet to play The Last of Us. Since the game is set to launch on PC at some point, there will likely be a few players who have yet to play it. Neil Druckmann said in an interview that Part 1 is the “definitive way to play” the game. He is not wrong. The few improvements there are have made the game both easier to get into and more fun to watch.

The new lighting is more of a blessing than the new models.
The new lighting is more of a blessing than the new models.

To start with the obvious first: The Last of Us Part 1 is beautiful. While the character models are more tweaked than actually changed (with a few exceptions), the environmental lighting and presentation is a real upgrade over the remastered PS4 version. The Last of Us isn’t exactly a colorful game, but the upgrades definitely make it more aesthetically pleasing.

There are some minor gameplay improvements. For example, you can now read collection notes as soon as you find them, without having to take them out of Joel’s backpack, which is a feature from the sequel. Both enemy and friendly AI are better, or at least easier to read. All of these things will lower the barrier to entry for those players jumping into it for the first time.

The devoted fans

I think this game really has one specific target audience and that is the group of fans who love The Last of Us. The original game is a favorite with no small amount of players, and everything I’ve mentioned above will be the pros for those players.

I’m not judging: I bought Bayonetta four times, on four different platforms, and I didn’t even get a graphical upgrade. I just loved the game so much and wanted as many versions of it as I could get. So if you love The Last of Us, I think it will be worth your money and time to play it again in this beautified form.

The Last of Us Part 1 on the left; The Last of Us Remastered on the right

If you’re not, then I think you already know you’re not going to buy this game. Aside from some technical and cosmetic benefits, you don’t get anything with this game that you don’t already have. That’s why I’ve refrained from referring to the story or the gameplay in this review. It hasn’t changed much. If you want to read all the good stuff about it, read Dean’s review from nine years ago.

There is nothing wrong with paying a high price to gild the lily – but there is nothing wrong with not wanting to do it either. I think The Last of Us Part 1 will be a great addition to the casual TLOU fan’s library when it inevitably goes on sale, and perhaps PC gamers when it launches on that platform as well.

The Last of Us Part 1 is currently available for PlayStation 5 for $70, with a PC launch planned for the future. Sony provided GamesBeat with a code for the purpose of this review.

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