The Last of Us review: HBO breaks Hollywood’s video game curse

The Last of Us is the most faithful video game adaptation that has ever been produced. The new HBO series, which comes from Chernobyl writer Craig Mazin and Last of Us creator

Neil Druckmann, not only sticks close to the story told in its 2013 source material, but it often replicates entire scenes from that game. This fact won’t occur to any viewers who

aren’t familiar with Naughty Dog’s original Last of Us games. For those who are familiar with the property, though, watching the HBO series’ 9-episode first season may be an

unexpectedly odd experience. On the one hand, it’s undeniably refreshing to see a video game adaptation that is genuinely confident in the strength of its source material.

On the other hand, watching stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey act out iconic scenes line-for-line that were already performed quite well by Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker is an

experience that not only invites unfair comparisons between the series and its video game predecessor but also raises questions about the necessity of the show’s creation.

After all, if a TV show is going to simply recreate many of the scenes, lines of dialogue, and even music cues found in its source material, as The Last of Us does, then what’s

the point in even making it? In this case, that question is particularly worth asking, given how effective the original Last of Us remains nearly a decade after its release.

Fortunately, HBO’s The Last of Us adds enough to its source material’s story to ultimately justify its existence. In fact, many of the series’ best moments aren’t just the ones

that were created specifically for it, but also directly diverge from the canon of the first two Last of Us games.