The story of The Last of Us Part 1 is what has captivated gamers for so many years. It’s a fun game that offers plenty of third-person shooter action. The game has had two major updates in the form of a remaster and now a remake. But, even after all the technical improvements and great graphics, the story is still the beating heart of the game bringing players back while inviting new players to join for the first time.
With the release of The Last of Us Part 1, it’s worth looking back at some of the most memorable moments that brought this franchise to life. Joel and Ellie’s life is turned upside down when they meet. Their tragedies and triumphs set the stage for one of gaming’s greatest stories.
10/10 I believe it
Nothing foreshadows Joel’s warpath through the hospital quite like his interrogation of David’s men in that pivotal wintry scene. Joel is still injured, but he is awake. He knows Ellie is in trouble and time is running out.
As the man in the chair gives Joel a little attitude, he is docile, marking a spot on the map for Joel where he knows Ellie is being kept. Joel says his partner better mark the same spot on the map but ultimately kills the man before he even checks with the partner. When the partner threatens to refuse to cooperate, Joel kills him as well. Joel is a man ready to do anything to protect Ellie, whom he now considers his own family.
9/10 Ellie and Riley kiss
Riley and Ellie’s story is wonderful. Young people who just want to have fun. They are two teenagers on the loose in the mall, and what could be more natural than that? When Ellie asks Riley not to leave, Riley removes her Firefly dog tags. Ellie kisses him in what is the only bit of romance we see in The Last of Us Part 1.
The kiss is a moment of innocence. It is a moment of hope. It’s a moment of normalcy in the midst of an apocalypse. Unfortunately, it’s not made to last. And while the characters are about to find out, players have known it all along.
8/10 Tess’ Sacrifice
When Joel and Tess bring Ellie to the drop point, the fireflies they were supposed to encounter have died. Tess reveals she was bitten and the army shows up. Tess begs Joel to finish the job and bring Ellie to the Fireflies. She dares to hope that Ellie’s immunity might mean something, so her own sacrifice might also mean something.
It’s a difficult moment made even more difficult by the pace of the scene. Neither the audience nor the characters have a minute to absorb what’s really going on. Joel and Ellie have to run, and the next thing they see of Tess is her body on the ground below them.
7/10 Sam and Henry
These brothers turn out to be two of the few trustworthy people Joel and Ellie meet. Although it takes a little time, they become a team. After surviving several encounters against overwhelming odds, the group takes some rest, but everything is about to go awry for Sam and the crew. The night before Sam transforms, Ellie gives Sam a toy her brother said he couldn’t have. It’s a moment of pure innocence between children. Unfortunately, this happy moment is undermined by the fact that Sam has been bitten and doesn’t tell anyone.
The next day, Ellie finds a transformed Sam. In the end, Henry kills Sam and then turns the gun on himself. With his dying breaths, Henry unfairly blames Joel for everything.
6/10 The epidemic
The first moments of The Last of Us Part 1 are tough times for audiences. After establishing a good relationship between Sarah and Joel, Sarah receives a distressed call from her Uncle Tommy. He desperately searches for Joel and soon shows up at their house. The three of them leave in chaos.
The beginning of the epidemic is messy. Cars are stopped, people are panicking and of course you have the infected stranger in the mix. When Joel, with Sarah in his arms, encounters a soldier who initially saves them from the infected, the soldier receives an order and shoots them. It looks like Joel is about to be killed when Tommy intervenes, killing the soldier to save his brother. Unfortunately, the worst of the damage has already been done. The first blows landed on Sarahts, and Joel could do nothing but hold his little girl as she passed.
5/10 Ellie kills David
In a world full of clickers and danger around every corner, David manages to be the scariest thing in the game. His first intentions seem decent and things quickly dissolve from there. He kidnaps Ellie and threatens everything from making her his new pet to cutting her into small pieces.
Ellie and David’s final confrontation in a burning restaurant is powerful. Ellie doesn’t have the advantage and has to sneak up on David multiple times to hurt him. In their final fight, Ellie manages to kill David before Joel bursts in. Ellie is in tears. Joel cradles her and calls her his baby girl in a moment that almost perfectly mirrors the loss of Sarah on the day of the outbreak.
4/10 The Hospital
This is the scene that sparked so much discussion around The Last of Us Part 1. Was Joel right? Is Joel a hero? Is Joel the bad guy? These questions continue to go even today. The moment is unforgettable and, for some, unforgivable.
Joel finds out from Marlene that Ellie will have to die for them to make a vaccine. Marlene knows this is what Ellie (who is oblivious) would want. Joël, who also knows it, cannot accept the loss of another daughter. He kills anyone who gets in his way, including doctors who might be able to make the vaccine. In one fell swoop, Joel saves Ellie and dooms humanity.
3/10 The lie
While some players may combine this scene with the hospital, the scenes are distinct enough to be their own moments. In the end, the motives of each scene are different, especially for Joel. When Joel tears up the hospital, killing fireflies and doctors, he does it to protect Ellie. When he lies to Ellie about the fireflies and the cure, he does so to protect himself. He doesn’t want to lose Ellie, not in this hospital, and not because of what he thinks he has to do in this hospital.
Joel tells Ellie that there are dozens of immune people like her, and the fireflies had given up on finding a cure, so they left. Ellie makes him swear it’s true. Joel’s lie here is a scene that hurts because he betrays the one person he loves and the person who loves him. It breaks trust in an attempt to avoid loss. It’s heartbreaking, it’s human and it’s too relatable.
The Last of Us Part 1 knows when its audience (and its survivors) just needs something to keep going. The giraffe scene hits all the right places after we’ve been repeatedly shown just how brutal the world can be for survivors. In a world where surprises are often unwelcome, this surprise shatters character and audience expectations.
Joel and Ellie stop to admire all the giraffes, showing that the world can sometimes be as beautiful as it is haunting. It’s a peaceful, serene moment where the characters are allowed to smile and even express a sense of wonder. In their life, it’s a moment they’ll never forget, making sure it’s a moment the players won’t forget either.
1/10 Powerful Thin Ice
In stories, we rarely see two characters put everything on the table, say all the wrong things, and then end up even closer. The cutscene where Ellie brings up Sarah to Joel is one of the most powerful moments in the game, with Joel retorting that Ellie isn’t his daughter and he isn’t her father. Ellie rightly feels like she’s about to be abandoned by Joel. While he doesn’t exactly throw her to the wolves, he does consider getting away from her and the danger (getting closer to her) she poses.
Joel ignorantly pretends Ellie doesn’t know about the loss, completely unaware of Riley’s or Ellie’s life in the quarantine zone). In this scene, you have two characters who are afraid. One is afraid of caring, while the other is afraid of being abandoned. Fortunately, everyone comes to their senses, and Joel and Ellie continue their journey together shortly after this powerful showdown.