The Last of Us
Master of the cinematic set-piece, Naughty Dog has proven itself capable of putting the wind at your back without boxing you in. The opening of The Last of Us is terrifying. No sooner do you have a grip on the mechanics and set up, than a seismic shift takes you back out of your comfort zone: comfortable exploring the house? Now you need to get out; used to the safety of the car? It’s time to get out and walk; now it’s time to start running.
This continual ebb and flow lent what is on paper a fairly standard and uncluttered approach a breathless clarity. Urgency underpinned every movement, and as such you couldn’t help but be completely present, and when you’re well and truly hooked? Bam – you’re ripped out of the moment by a harrowing narrative jump that hits you like a gut-punch (there’s that ebb and flow again). The opening is so well directed, and Naughty Dog in such clear control, that ultimately the price must come with player agency. It’s clear that your hands and feet stay inside the ride at all times, but what a ride it is.