The original The Last of Us debuted on PS3 in 2013 and was remastered for PS4 just a year later. But here we are, less than a decade away from its debut, and the game is already undergoing a makeover. The re-dubbed The Last of Us Part I takes that original experience that helped make Naughty Dog one of the most revered game studios and makes it feel right at home on PS5. In fact, the new version makes the game look and play like its controversial sequel. In some ways, The Last of Us Part I feels redundant given the relatively young age of the original, which is still very accessible. It’s not like the PS4 remaster couldn’t take it. But after spending some time with the remake, I have to say – it’s also the best way to experience this classic.
Even if you don’t mind counting more realistic framerates or counting hands, many of the changes make the experience much more like The Last of Us Part II. That said, not drastically different, but a welcome improvement. The controls and UI have been simplified slightly so the combat isn’t as clunky, though it’s not exactly smooth. There were still plenty of times when I messed up switching weapons and accidentally hit photo mode in the middle of frantic combat. But it is more practical than the original. My main advice is to keep stealth as much as possible, where things work much better than frantic gunfire.
There are many other changes and the ones that stood out the most to me during my Playthroughs were: the faster load times which made the after-death reboot almost instantaneous, something I often found myself having to do during some of the more intense sequences; The adaptive triggers of the DualSense controllers in particular make using the bow very satisfying, although haptic vibrations feel quite normal; the 3D audio is so scary I had to play it without headphones because I couldn’t stand the horrible clicks; Perhaps most importantly, Part I offers as robust a set of accessibility features as the sequel. There’s also a new fast-running mode and a more challenging difficulty, but I haven’t played it yet.
If you didn’t like TLOU, this remake won’t change your mind. It’s still gruesome and dark, a cross between a heartbreaking post-apocalyptic story and a sometimes weird video game. The core is the same as always. What this remake does, however, is the smooth transition between the two games in the franchise. Think of it as a loop of the (most) edges of the game. This will likely be important for those who played Part II in front of the original or hypothetical audience presented next year by HBO’s live-action adaptation or the standalone multiplayer experience in The Last of Us. The Last of Us is now a franchise – and in that context, a remake so soon really makes a lot of sense.