The Last of Us: Part I Review

Richard Walker

The Last of Us Part I isn't just any old remake. When the original released for PS3, almost a decade ago, it raised the bar for narrative-driven drama in video games, and all this from a studio which, at the time, was best known for mascot platformers Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter, before it graduated to rip-roaring adventure with Uncharted. The Last of Us was something altogether more grounded and gritty, and as such, it proved a watershed moment, not just for the developer but for the medium at large. The Last of Us Part I is, without question, the best way to play ND's defining post-apocalyptic opus, the game that propelled the studio into rarified air.

If you go down to the woods today… there's probably Clickers.

Essentially, Part I brings the original The Last of Us in line with The Last of Us Part II, more than matching the quality benchmark set by the sequel, with a slew of enhancements, many of which go beyond the purely visual. For starters, the HUD and interface have been revised, so it's clearer and more elegant, while the weapon upgrade system and workbenches have been much improved (matching their TLOU Part II counterparts) alongside the intrinsic game mechanics – it's immediately apparent that this is a thoughtful, thorough remake, but it's the heart of the experience itself that continues to compel. The perfect marriage of performance and story, The Last of Us Part I accentuates what was already there in 2013, bringing out more nuance in the motion-captured performances delivered by Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, and the rest of the cast nine years ago.

Going back to the PS3 or PS4 release highlights how superior this PS5 redux really is - it’s how The Last of Us lives in my memory, all these years on. Naughty Dog's claims that Part I is a from-the-ground-up, completely rebuilt version of The Last of Us aren't at all unfounded, and in the same way that TLOU wowed upon its initial release, the trick is repeated upon starting up Part I – it looks astonishingly good. Lighting is suitably evocative and cinematic, while the ramp-up in detail takes the game to another level, whether it's dense foliage, rust and grime caked onto every decaying surface, deadly cordyceps spores swirling in the air, or the breathtaking vistas that stretch into the distance. The Last of Us Part I is an incredible graphical showcase, regardless of which of the multiple display settings you opt to play the game with.

Gameplay refinements also bring TLOU bang up to date: the gunplay and stealth systems feel especially tight and intuitive, while the crafting, exploration, and looting of valuable resources ensure you're constantly hooked from beginning to end, wonderfully augmented by the DualSense's haptic feedback. It's the inherent high calibre of TLOU's gripping narrative that still dazzles, however, Naughty Dog's writing firing on all cylinders to inject protagonist Joel and Ellie's fraught journey across America with real pathos and emotion. The bond formed between the duo is expertly orchestrated, too, from Joel's initial reluctance to take responsibility as protector to Ellie's efforts to get through his hardened, detached exterior, to the damaged soul beneath the salt-and-pepper beard and flannel shirt. And her jokes are always a treat, of course.

There's no denying The Last of Us Part I's credentials as a remake. Naughty Dog has done its due diligence in not only updating the game's graphics and performance, but in also providing a surfeit of accessibility options that run the gamut. From audio description to countless controller remapping options, assistance with traversal and combat, as well as numerous features that can be toggled on and off as you see fit, the remake has been made with players of all kinds in mind, which is truly laudable. Naughty Dog deserves all the plaudits for going the extra mile to provide such a wide selection of accessibility features, alongside all of the aforementioned hallmarks that come with a remake – the overhauled visuals, the enhanced gameplay components, and so forth. This goes far beyond what you'd expect from a conventional remake, but for some the game's prohibitively expensive price tag will still be something of a sticking point.

Part I's weapon workbenches are now like the ones in TLOU Part II.

Ultimately, it's a shame that Sony has decided to release The Last of Us Part I as a full-priced $70/£70 title, because at a lower price point this would have been an easy thing to recommend. Nonetheless, if you've yet to experience The Last of Us in any form, this is a fantastic way to play it for the first time. Conversely, if you played The Last of Us in 2013 or have previously enjoyed the 2014 remaster, it becomes slightly harder to heartily recommend Part I, at least at full price. Personally, I'd happily shell out again for The Last of Us on PS5, even if this is the game's third release in nine years – few games are as perfectly paced and as beautifully put together as this, and fewer still are lavished with as much care and attention as the remake. Put simply, The Last of Us Part I is a bravura piece of work: the best possible version of one of the greatest games of all time.

The Last of Us: Part I

Nine years on, The Last of Us is still a masterpiece, and Naughty Dog's PlayStation 5 remake for goes above and beyond, making an already incredible game, even better. Environments look stunning and character performances have been refined, breathing new life and texture into post-apocalyptic America – The Last of Us Part I is terrific.

Form widget

Gustavo Santaolalla's haunting score remains a transcendent highlight, while the performances are uniformly superb. Sound effects and ambient noise all contribute to the tense atmosphere.


This is how you do a remake. Every inch of The Last of Us Part I has been given due care and attention, transforming the look and feel of the game, from the lighting to the level of incidental detail. Stunning.


Various refinements help bring The Last of Us in line with Part II, while the wealth of accessibility features enable you to tailor the experience to your liking. DualSense haptic feedback also lends a nice bit of texture to gunplay.


On top of all the accessibility features is the Left Behind prologue DLC, bonus content from the remake and original 2013 release, and a Developer's Commentary, which is, unfortunately, only unlocked after completing the game. An excellent package.


A far better and more straightforward trophy list than the 2013 version, Part I is a far more achievable Platinum, with completion, collectibles, weapon upgrades, and specific feats like breaking upgraded melee weapons, the primary cut and thrust. Good.

Game navigation