HBO’s adaptation of video game classic The Last of Us premiered earlier this week to much anticipation from fans of the game and general viewers alike. Ahead of its January 15th release the show had received glowing reviews from critics. On Rotton Tomatoes for example The Last of Us enjoyed a 97% fresh rating, with the critical consensus saying in part that the show “ranks among the all-time greatest video game adaptations.”
But now that The Last of Us has actually released, does the premiere episode live up to the hype? The answer, at least the critical one, is a resounding and emphatic yes.
Episode 1 of HBO’s The Last of Us thrillingly lays the foundations for the emotional torture ready to hurt us along every step of its journey. A cast at the top of their game with technical artistry behind the camera to match, it throws us into a world on the edge of cataclysm before brilliantly catapulting us into one that has been plunged into the depths of it. Unrelenting for most of its lengthy runtime, it’s crucially always entertaining, even as new information is thrown our way at top speed. Touching yet explosive, it encapsulates everything that makes the opening chapter of the video game’s story so special – whether it’s the first or the hundred-and-first time that it’s punched you squarely in the gut.
MSN and BBC are both calling it the best video game TV adaptation ever. That may not seem like saying much, as such game-to-small screen crossovers have traditionally been, shall we say, less than stellar. However, HBO’s first video game adaptation joins the likes of Castlevania and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners over on Netflix just to name a few among many, that have ignited a growing trend of successful game to TV carryovers.
The praise for the Last of Us series premiere didn’t stop there, either. Writing for Indie Wire, reviewer Steve Green declared in the review’s headline that “The Last of Us episode 1 is how you start a TV show. He goes on to call the premiere “A chilling symphony of an opening episode destroys one world, creates another, and expertly sets up a precise and punishing season of television.”