In the nine years since it became a console-defining title on PlayStation 3, few games have managed to capture that must-play blockbuster feel in the same way as The Last Of Us Part 1 did.
It delivered a perfect combination of thrilling gameplay, groundbreaking visuals, and complex characters that really made the player feel every moment. It was also a brilliant example of video games as art, with huge emotional weight and an unforgettable narrative that questions what truly makes us human.
So it’s not really that surprising that a proper remake has arrived. Almost a decade after the game originally dropped, and with an HBO series coming soon, it’s also the perfect chance for those who missed out to catch up on one of the most highly-regarded games of all time.
Still, much of the conversation around this remake has been the price point, with many questioning whether a straight-up remake of a nine-year-old game is worth the $70 price tag. It’s a difficult question to answer, but there’s no denying that The Last Of Us remains an incredible game.
The Last Of Us Part 1 Remake key details
- Developer: Naughty Dog
- Price: $69.99 / £69.99
- Release date: September 2, 2022
- Platforms: PS5
The Last Of Us Part 1 trailer
A true classic with a fresh coat of paint
The Last Of Us Part 1 Remake is more than just a visual upgrade, but that’s clearly the biggest change here and it’s what everyone’s been talking about, so let’s focus on that for a minute. Like many, I was a little skeptical when looking at the comparison screenshots between the 2014 Remaster and this brand new Remake. Was there really enough of an improvement to make it worthwhile, and to justify buying the game again?
What I will say (as if it wasn’t obvious already) is that looking at screenshots and actually playing the game are two vastly different experiences; The Last Of Us Part 1 Remake looks absolutely incredible in motion, and I feel confident saying it’s one of the most visually impressive games on the PS5 so far.
Naughty Dog has spent a lot of time emphasizing that this remake was built from the ground up, and it really does show. Joel and Ellie have that ‘so realistic it’s a bit creepy’ look to them, with each facial expression and gesture adding plenty of emotion to cutscenes. While out exploring, the contrast between the dilapidated city structures and the beauty of nature reclaiming the planet is starker than ever before. This visual fidelity is actually most impressive in the small things, like shimmering reflections in puddles on the street, grime that covers the walls down in the sewers, or the way each blade of grass sways and bends when you walk across them.
Although the visuals are getting most of the attention, there are also small improvements to things like combat and controls, which you might not even notice – they’re subtle, but they do improve things. Enemies feel smarter and more reactive, while your travel companions seem better at staying out of your way when sneaking around. 3D Audio is also a great addition, especially in the more atmospheric, stealth-based sections of the game. With the Pulse headset, I could hear every drop of water, every footstep, and most importantly, the location of nearby Clickers. It really does add to the immersion.
I’d also like to commend Naughty Dog on their accessibility options, which are some of the best I’ve seen in a video game. There’s an audio description that narrates what’s happening in cutscenes for blind and visually-impaired players, sound cues to help with traversal and combat, and the option to change button taps to long holds, to name just a few. The DualSense controller is utilized, too, with an option to deliver vibrations that emphasize how voice lines are delivered, whether that’s a shout or a whisper. These accessibility options will no doubt allow even more people to experience The Last Of Us, and that’s something to be celebrated – even if you won’t be using the features yourself.
Beyond these welcome upgrades, there’s really not much in the way of ‘new’ content in The Last Of Us Part 1 Remake. When it comes to the core gameplay, Naughty Dog has – for the most part – stayed true to the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This is the exact same story fans experienced a decade ago, with no extra chapters or modes (although it does throw in a Speedrun option and the brilliant Left Behind prequel), which is probably going to be the dealbreaker for some people.
The good news is that The Last Of Us still holds up incredibly well. It’s got all the things you’d expect from a top-class adventure game – environmental puzzles, fluid combat, and loads of collectibles – with a genuinely unforgettable story and characters that will stay with you for a lifetime. With all the tragedy surrounding them, it’s Joel and Ellie’s unlikely friendship that acts as the beating heart of the game; watching them slowly learn to trust each other and find small moments of joy is what makes the misery and horrors of post-apocalyptic America bearable.
While I’d always remembered how the original release made me feel, one thing I had forgotten was how scary it was. The Last Of Us may primarily be an action-adventure survival game, but it’s also one of the best horror games I’ve ever played. The tension of having to sneak around a dark room full of Clickers is unmatched, and I don’t think there’s a sound more terrifying than the ones these infected humans emit when searching for their next victim. The improved graphics and 3D Audio make these scenarios even more thrilling.
Ultimately, The Last Of Us Part 1 Remake does what it promises on the box: Takes one of the greatest games of all time and somehow makes it even better. The visuals are stunning and the accessibility options mean even more people will now be able to enjoy it. If that’s good enough for you, or you’ve never played The Last Of Us before, then it’s absolutely worth playing. I just wish there was some new content included – or at the very least, a slightly lower cost of entry.
The Verdict – 8.5/10
The Last Of Us is as brutal, challenging, and enjoyable as it always has been. With hugely improved visuals, small but meaningful gameplay changes, and a great range of accessibility options, this Part 1 Remake is without a doubt the definitive version for both newcomers and longtime fans.
Reviewed on PS5