I’m low on ammo, so I clumsily swing my two-by-four at the incoming Clicker — dumb move. The creature sinks its fetid teeth into my jugular, chirping with malevolent glee as it rips out a gobbet of flesh. Arterial blood spurts across my face, now contorted in shock and agony.
I’m dead. This time, I try a different approach. I combine one of my remaining rags and a precious bottle of alcohol to create a Molotov cocktail, then hurl it towards the abomination. Flames envelop the lumbering shape as it wails and collapses, dead at last. I’m alive – for a little while longer.
The Last of Us isn’t afraid to kill you, over and over if need be. And that’s a big part of its considerable charm. As you struggle to survive the game’s inhospitable world, limping from one nail-biting combat scenario to the next, you’ll feel strangely alive and alert. In an era of game development that — at least to this old-timer — tends to babysit players with tutorials and handholding to dial down any chance of frustration, this game’s unapologetically tough-as-nails approach feels both refreshing and quietly revolutionary. Remember when games used to kill you? Naughty Dog does.
Later, I’m ambushed in a bombed-out store by a mob of coldhearted killers — human in name only, and no less dangerous than the infected that prowl the streets. I assess my arsenal: just three shotgun shells and a handful of 9mm rounds. Using the dim lighting to my advantage, I duck behind a counter and drop a nearby gunman with a blast of buckshot as Ellie runs for safety. With the shooter out of the way, I lunge for a pair of nearby attackers and subdue them with a series of wild haymakers. Grabbing a nearby two-by-four, I rush the survivors and bludgeon them into submission. I rendezvous with a nervous Ellie and we move on — though to what, only Naughty Dog knows.
That’s The Last of Us. You do what you need to do and you keep moving. It’s out June 14th, and I think you’re gonna like it.