We’re less than two weeks away from our premiere. HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us And you could say fans of the franchise are getting pretty excited. Starring Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal as Joel and Game of Thrones standout Bella Ramsey as Ellie, this post-apocalyptic zombie drama has all the makings of an instant classic with a hope – that lives on as movies or TV shows. Quite rare for video games to be brought in. . There is no doubt that the fans will be upset with the changes in the story. And yes, changes are made — but with good reason — during the first season, which covers the first game.
Speaking to GameSpot, TV Guide, and Metacritic, The Last of You Game writer and co-director Neil Druckman — who is also the show’s writer and executive producer — was quick to explain. “There are things that work in the game that just don’t work in the show,” he said. “The game is about–sometimes–immersion and this constant continuity through space and time to make you feel like you’re the character. And the show, if we shoot it exactly like that, It’s just going to be. Exhausting, the violence is going to scream like it doesn’t in a game because there’s some mechanics and stuff that really hits you.”
Druckmann’s argument is difficult to argue with here. While the games take an interesting and terrifying dive into Joel and Ellie’s experiences in a zombie-infested wasteland, a camera follows them as they kill clickers and anyone who gets in their way. It can be fun as long as you don’t personally control your actions. How about a change in story? For showrunner Craig Mazen (Chernobyl), it was something he was constantly working to figure out.
“Neil would always say, ‘We can change anything, but we need to talk about why. And if there’s no good reason–if we can’t do better–then let’s do what we have. Deliver it,’” he explained. “And there were places where I thought we came up with really interesting ideas. Sometimes I’d call him, and I’d be like, ‘I’m afraid to say this idea,’ and every time he wouldn’t say anything. Butt.” , and then he’d say, ‘Oh, you know what? We should have done that in the game.’ And then I’m like, ‘Okay, aha, okay, we’re onto something.’ The big secret is that Neil Druckmann was so confident and secure in the story of the game that he was able to move around with me afterwards and be flexible enough to fill in and change and change.”
Knowing that Druckmann is very open to changes, provided they provide a better viewing experience, it’s reassuring that he was the sole writer behind both The Last of Us games. After all, no one is more protective of Joel and Ellie than their Creator. Still, Mazin wants fans to know that this show isn’t about reinventing the wheel, adding, “If you’re a fan and you loved that first game, you get to have that experience again. It will happen, completely but in a different way.”
What remains to be seen, however, is where the show’s potential will go. Season 2. After all, The Last of Us 2 is set four years after the first game, featuring a young adult Ellie and an older Joel. While Season 2 could certainly go that route, there’s also room to explore what happens to these characters in the immediate aftermath of the first game. Either way, there’s a lot of story for the show and hopefully multiple seasons to tell it.
The Last of Us premieres January 15th on HBO.
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