HBO’s The Last of Us Season Premier Review | The best video game adaptation of all time

While it may not exactly be a shot-for-shot and beat-by-beat remake, the show comes pretty darn close to the original experience.

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HBO’s The Last of Us immediately hits the ground running as it masterfully adapts the 2013 critically acclaimed hit game of the same name. Impeccable production value, pinpoint accurate writing, and high-caliber performances all make HBO’s The Last of Us the definitive way to adapt a video game. 

While it may not exactly be a shot-for-shot and beat-by-beat remake, the show comes pretty darn close to the original experience and in some instances, further enhances key moments in the story. The Last of Us is quite possibly one of the greatest stories ever told in video game history. HBO’s adaptation feels more like a director’s cut with all of the enhancements it provides in terms of additional context, new character moments, and the undeniable attention to detail and care that fills every shot. 

HBO had a nearly impossible task of bringing developer Naughty Dog’s magnum opus to television. How do you condense a 15-20 hours experience that was carefully crafted to be emotionally resonant in both its gameplay and storytelling into a nine-episode series? Video games have always had the unique ability to connect more with the consumer given that they are directly involved in a way that no other medium can offer. 

I was one of the people who were immensely worried as to how HBO was going to pull it off. After seeing just the first episode, I can confidently say that The Last of Us is in good hands and I can’t imagine anyone else handling it better than these guys did. 

HBO’s The Last of Us’ first episode does a fantastic job of setting up the characters and the world they live in. The gritty cinematography quickly pulls you into the atmosphere that is just oozing with struggle, desperation, resiliency, and flickering hope within just a couple of minutes. If you’ve played the game already, you’d know what I mean. While having prior knowledge of the narrative might make you think that nothing will surprise you anymore, the writers do a fantastic job at sprinkling in a couple more extra scenes that truly elevate the pivotal moments in the story. 

Key characters stay true to their video game counterparts and it’s all enhanced by outstanding performances. Pedro Pascal as Joel provides a masterclass of intimidation and vulnerability. Nico Parker’s Sarah has rightfully stolen my heart with a character that is just full of it. Anna Torv has a scene-stealing moment that perfectly captures what Tess is all about. Gabriel Luna’s Tommy enhances every shot he’s in. And last but most definitely not least, Bella Ramsey could not have portrayed Ellie any better than she did. I can go on forever for everyone in the cast that I’ve seen so far. No one walked on set and told themselves that this was going to be just another paycheck. Each one of the cast earned their spot and did so much more to make sure that everyone else is aware that they did. Every character has their own moment to shine and I can’t stress enough how engaging it all is. The performances alone make HBO’s The Last of Us a must-watch. 

With the original game’s creative director, Niel Druckmann, and Chernobyl’s showrunner, Craig Mazin teaming up for this adaptation, you just know you’re not only getting quality television, but you’re also seeing one of the most faithful adaptations ever made. 

Enthralling action sequences and powerful emotional moments are the two things that made The Last of Us one of the best games of 2013. Ten years later, HBO is coming in and giving us a brand-new way to experience it all again. This not only sets the bar for video game adaptations, but also for television productions in general.

The Last of Us takes place 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal and heart-breaking journey as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.

The cast includes Pedro Pascal as Joel, Bella Ramsey as Ellie, Gabriel Luna as Tommy, Anna Torv as Tess, Nico Parker as Sarah, Murray Bartlett as Frank, Nick Offerman as Bill, Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen, Storm Reid as Riley, Merle Dandridge as Marlene, Jeffrey Pierce as Perry, Lamar Johnson as Henry, Keivonn Woodard as Sam, Graham Greene as Marlon, and Elaine Miles as Florence. Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker also star.

The Last of Us, based on the critically acclaimed video game of the same name developed by Naughty Dog exclusively for the PlayStation® platforms, is written and executive produced by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann. The series is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television and is executive produced by Carolyn Strauss, Evan Wells, Asad Qizilbash, Carter Swan, and Rose Lam. Production companies: PlayStation Productions, Word Games, The Mighty Mint, and Naughty Dog.

Stream or download The Last of Us on HBO GO. Subscribe to HBO GO online at or the mobile app via the App Store or Play Store. Or access HBO GO via Cignal, Globe and Skycable. HBO GO is also available on Android TV, Apple TV, LG TV and Samsung Smart TV – and comes with AirPlay and Google Cast functionality.