A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Strong themes of friendship, loyalty, risk, sacrifice, and family. Realistic violence and tragic plot twists compel players to think about what sort of actions are morally acceptable in order to survive. Detailed post-apocalypse world encourages an examination of luxury, necessity, and how one's environment can shape their worldview.
Positive Role Models
Joel is a good man who has lost his way and is attempting to find his way back through a father-like relationship with Ellie, but he still views violence as an acceptable solution to difficult problems. Ellie spends much of the game searching for human connection, is clearly motivated to do what she believes to be right and just. She's forced to become a killer to survive, but she doesn't seem entirely comfortable with it.
Players take on the role of a White man and a White teenage girl. Important non-player characters are Black, and women are in positions of power. Human enemies are mostly White but have a range of skin tones. A main character is gay, with an important subplot revolving around their first romance.
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Ease of Play
Multiple difficulty levels allow players to customize the level of challenge, but players should expect a fair test even on lower settings. Some controls may not be instantly intuitive to all players.
Violence & Scariness
Extraordinarily violent: bloody, visceral third-person melee combat and gun battles. Human enemies -- infected and non-infected -- get beaten with bats and machetes, blown up by homemade bombs, burned by Molotov cocktails, and shot to death by a variety of guns, typically screaming in pain as they die. Dark red blood seeps from wounds and coats surfaces. Bodies in various stages of decay litter the ground. Narrative sequences show cannibals cutting up corpses with cleavers. Player character deaths are highly stylized, showing the infected biting chunks of flesh from their necks, ripping into faces and eyes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Ellie looks at a porn magazine, but players don't see what she sees inside. A few conversations discuss relationships, and one scene shows a kiss between two teens. A subplot suggests without directly saying that a teen girl might be at risk of sexual assault by an older man.
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Dialogue contains several instances of strong profanity, including the words "f--k," "s--t," and "d--k."
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Products & Purchases
Brands seen within game environments include several PlayStation game franchises, such as Jak and Daxter and Uncharted. This remastered version of a 2013 adventure game has spawned sequels and influenced a TV series that will be released in 2023.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Two teens share a sip of moonshine from a bottle.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Last of Us Part I is an action horror game exclusively for the PlayStation 5. This is a remake of a PlayStation 3 action horror game. It follows Joel and Ellie, a grieving father and a 14-year-old girl, as they travel across an America ravaged by 20 years of an infectious disease that has wiped out much of the world and transformed many people into mindless monsters. The action is bloody and terrifying, with scenes set in dark, dilapidated buildings and with enemies both human and infected attacking with brutal force. Joel and Ellie use guns, knives, bats, homemade explosives, and other weapons to slay their attackers, often stealthily and typically with a good deal of blood, gore, and screaming. The story is character- and relationship-driven, filled with tragedy, sacrifice, and horrific injuries designed to elicit strong emotions from players, who develop a bond with the heroes. Parents should also be aware that this game contains very strong language and some sexual themes that include Ellie looking at a porn magazine (the player sees nothing), coming under threat of sexual assault, and engaging in her first romance with a teen girl. The two girls also share a sip of moonshine from a beer bottle.
Is It Any Good?
Though decidedly not for young kids, this remake transforms a bona fide PlayStation classic into a modern masterpiece. The Last of Us Part I (called simply The Last of Us at the time) rewrote the book on narrative game design when it originally launched in 2013. Combining state-of-the-art visuals with award-winning writing and performances, it delivered a deeply compelling story about loss, pain, and hope shared by two strangers forced to survive together in an apocalyptic landscape. All of that remains unchanged in this remake, which wisely opts instead to focus on enhancing the experience via modern graphics. The character models here emote with lifelike pain and happiness as they carefully creep through a world that is strangely beautiful in its desolation. It's filled with crumbling homes containing artifacts and possessions that tell the stories of people long gone, public spaces and malls being slowly but surely reclaimed by verdant plant life, and endless details, from a makeshift daycare set up by a small group of survivors for their kids in hopes of creating some sense of normality to weather-faded posters advertising familiar-yet-fictional brands, products, and movies, many marked by the month and year the world came to an end.
The action complements the story. Joel and Ellie must kill to survive this world, but it's never easy. On most difficulty levels, players will die instantly and in violent, flinch-inducing fashion when attacked by certain enemies (and after just a couple of hits by many others), making nearly every encounter deeply stressful. Resources are few and far between, which elicits a feeling of true excitement whenever Joel or Ellie discover a trove, and upgrading weapons and crafting items -- sometimes in real time in the heat of battle -- results in a sense of accomplishment and growth, even though the game never really becomes much easier. It all makes for an unforgettable, character-driven interactive adventure that will be a surefire hit with both returning fans and a new generation of players who have come of age to play mature games. The Last of Us Part I is that rare remake that loses nothing of the original while taking advantage of everything modern gaming technology can offer.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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