Look For The Light


Tom Colls

Remains of an overgrown fort in Alderney. Overgrown Fort by Tom Colls is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In a fungus-infected landscape, survivors are clinging onto life with every ounce of their soul. A man, whose heart has been crumbling over the two decades since the apocalypse, searches for reparation until suddenly he lands upon a task to smuggle a mysterious girl. This acclaimed plot line is from Naughty Dog’s 2013 survivor-based horror game,‘The Last of Us,’ which has garnered much attention over the years, enough for it to earn a sequel that won ‘Game of the Year’ in 2020. Most recently, the franchise announced an HBO adaptation of the game, which recently began airing on January 15th. Since then, an episode has aired every Sunday, with a total of 4 episodes so far. Freshman Leon Finn, a fan of the series, explains what goes into a successful video-game adaptation.

“I love how throughout the first game you get to see a man whose life was ruined by this disease and opened his heart throughout the play through. It shows that parts of his past are still with him in a new deadly world. I do like the show but I do not think it was necessary. It is a good adaptation but with an adaptation comes some undesirable changes. The story was fashioned for a game at the end of the day. Altering the story can cause major backlash within the community that loves this game. I think to make a good show out of TLOU, (The Last of Us) you need to take parts of the game audiences love and create something engaging for both new and old audiences of the series,” said Finn.

Since the games initial release, two remakes have come out built for both the PS4 and the PS5; with new graphics and updated game-play features being included. According to the creator, Jacob Minkoff, the game has made over 20 million sales earning upwards of 1 billion dollars since the games release a decade ago. Spanish Teacher Melissa Mohler is one of the many players who purchased the original game, she contributes more than a few reasons for liking TLOU, but most prominently likes it for its plot.

“The story line was really compelling. Although I do not do well with the horror aspect, it really keeps me engaged. I played the game with my siblings, so I am excited to see an adaptation because it’ll give more liberties to the franchise of what they want to do. As long as they stay true to the source material, they can take their own little paths that add to the universe of the show. For example, they take little snippets of information from people before the outbreak that weren’t in the game, and utilize it to compel the audience to keep watching. Even those who haven’t played the game can enjoy it. It is just really cool to see them do this,” stated Mohler. 

Since it began airing, The Last of Us has skyrocketed to an average of 15 million views per episode, making it one of the most popular shows to hit the platform–alongside series like Chernobyl, Game of Thrones, and House of Dragon. In fact, the creator of Chernobyl: Craig Maizen and Co-President of Naughty Dog: Neil Druckmann teamed up to undertake this project. They produced a show which premiered and became HBO’s second largest debut. Sophomore, Michael Weaver foresees the future of HBO to be bright in comparison to Netflix because of shows like TLOU.
“With HBO becoming more streamed because of ‘The Last of Us,’ it might affect Netflix because they don’t have enough good originals to keep people engaged. What’s so special about ‘The Last of Us’ is that it takes something original and digs deeper into it. It adds new elements to keep people engaged and entertained. It has blown up on the internet. Netflix does not have a lot of that right now. I loved how it was in 2010-2015 but now it feels too much of the same. I want Netflix to experiment with their content like HBO,” said Weaver. 

Cordyceps, nicknamed the ‘zombie fungus’ is a real mushroom that is known for its parasitical behavior towards insects. The series utilizes this as a device to inflict the apocalypse when it begins to control humans. According to WebMD, this is true but humans have strong immunity to it. Junior Caileigh Wilkinson likes the show because it carries a sense of reality and fantasy.

“The Last of Us feels more realistic than other zombie-filled worlds because there is scientific evidence used to support a plausible apocalypse. Obviously it is just exaggerated but it still could happen. The world of The Last of Us, is just that slim reality playing out through fiction. It feels more logical. It makes you question if you were one of those people in the show.  Like I have medical training so I might survive, but still it is very scary. I mostly want to watch the show because of its uniqueness and because of Pedro Pascal–the leading actor within the show as I am in love with his work,” stated Wilkinson.

The two main characters of the show are Joel and Ellie, along with several side characters that coincide along their treacherous journey. In the game you play as Joel, a middle-aged man who has witnessed some horrific events during his survival within the apocalypse. Senior, Mark Averill, believes it has found its place within the apocalypse genre, especially as one of the most notable franchises within it, ‘The Walking Dead’ has come to a close after 13 years of airing.
“The dynamic between Ellie and Joel is very interesting. The way the characters change as the story progresses is remarkable. It becomes shaky and rocky to a wholesome relationship. It is very cool to see that in game, so it is a heavy task for the show to replicate that. So far I feel like the show is super impressive. It sets a nice pace that I did not expect and it brings uniqueness to the zombie genre because of its character relationships. The Walking Dead recently went downhill so I hope it will become more of a replacement for it,” said Averill.

There have been some controversies on social media platforms in regard to the production and the future of the show as it was just picked up to have another season in relation to the second main game. Junior Jasmine Quezada looks forward to the next sections of the show, regardless of other people’s opinions.

“I have been watching ‘The Last of Us’ every Sunday when it comes out and I fell in love with it. As a fan of the series it just is super entertaining and emotional to watch. I really like the casting which some people didn’t like. Specifically, Bella Ramsey who plays Ellie got a lot of hate because she doesn’t look like the character in-game. I do not feel like the show has to be frame by frame, it just needs to feel like the source material–which it does. It portrays grief and a father daughter bond excellently. My only worries are the fight scenes being replicated correctly and the adaptation of the Last of Us II since the story was a little controversial,” stated Quezada. 

Over the past few years, numerous video game adaptations have popped up in television screens. From award winning animation series like ‘Arcane’ from League of Legends to live-action shows like ‘Halo’ which made little profit. Mohler dives into the dangers of creating a video game adaptation.

“When you’re reading a book, your preconceived notion of a character is never going to be the same as what they portray on the screen because you’ve always known the character in a certain way. When you have a game, you have an idea of who the character is through your hours you spent with them as the protagonist. However, the lens of a protagonist is completely different as the show can explore so much more. With that, there is a risk that the show can create something too different from the game,” said Mohler. 

Tennis Coach Arial Bueno has high hopes for the rest of the show as he admires both the accuracy of it thus far; specifically the terrifying features.

“Although I have played the game and I know the story very well, I still want to continue watching it. My three criterias for a good game is for it to have good acting, good story, and visual appeal, which ‘The Last of Us’ does excellently. The show feels very true to the nature of the game. The acting, directing, and cinematography are all great. The show just keeps you on your toes much like the game. They do a good job making it a little bit eerie and unsettling. It really replicates what the protagonist is feeling in those scary moments. I am just hoping they continue to stick to the original story,” said Bueno. 

One of the most famous lines within the franchise is ‘look for the light’ which relates to the small hopes in the bleak world. Finn explores the darkness of the series and tells of its unique aspects that make it stand out as an entertaining program to watch.  

“I think Pedro Pascal is a very talented actor and so is Bella Ramsay. I was excited to see them portray these characters and from what I’ve seen their performances just keep getting better. Pascal gives the right amount of toughness but with a little sweet spot to him as we will see later in the show. I think it is definitely worth checking out because of the talented actors and the frightening ambiance that is created in both the game and the show. There are pieces of the show that are so extremely accurate that it is kind of mind-blowing. Like how they portray the infected? It just warms my heart to see. The clickers, which are these echo locating blind monsters, are terrifying to see in enclosed places–it almost feels real. The infected make you feel like you are hunted, rather than the regular slow-moving stereotypical zombies found in the Walking Dead. In other apocalyptic media it takes longer to connect to characters, but in this it is almost instant. It feels different and new. The show is put together so well. It is scary how they shoot the scenes. The set design, the music, the infected, the world in the show is so openly mesmerizing in an eerie way and I love it. I mean the moment I hear a screech I am out,” stated Finn.