By Eric Zayas
The auditorium grew dark during a panel at the PlayStation Experience last Saturday night. A large, cinema-like screen lit up to present a beautifully rendered forest for an audience of eager gamers. As the scene progressed, the forest was revealed to be an small, abandoned town with overgrown foliage, rusted cars, and worn-down houses. The trees and bushes were so thick that the sunlight could barely pierce this hidden neighborhood. As we saw more of this scene, the camera cut to a wider shot of the street with decaying houses focused in the background, and a blurry stop sign in the foreground. The focus shifted, and the stop sign became clear, with an unmistakable spray paint tag of the familiar symbol for the Firefly group from The Last of Us. The crowd lost their minds and filled the room to the brim with screaming cheers.
For those who are unfamiliar with the ground-breaking video game of 2013, The Last of Us tells the story of Joel, an old and tired smuggler who witnessed the beginning of the end of society as everything he loved was ripped away from him, and Ellie, a 14-year-old young girl who may be the key to ending a plague that has caused suffering and death all across the world. This unlikely pair travel across a post-apocalyptic America with the shallow hope of developing a cure for the zombie infection that has sent the world into decay and ruin. The Last of Us sets itself apart from most other video games by telling a heartbreaking story that strums beautifully haunting music into the heart strings, with gorgeous visual graphics and a music score that rivals some of the most iconic music that has ever graced gamers’ ears.
As the trailer progressed, the audience was gifted with the scene of an older Ellie, sitting in a bed within one of the abandoned houses, playing a guitar while a drop of blood slowly rolls down her cheek, surrounded by recently dead bodies. As she proceeds to play Through the Valley by Shawn James, a man holding a revolver enters slowly into the house. The man, who we discover to be Joel, looks around at all of the bloody corpses scattered throughout the house, and follows the sound of Ellie’s gentle singing that leads him into the bedroom.
“I can’t walk… on the path of the right… because I’m wrong…” Ellie whispers as she finishes her song while Joel leans on the open doorway and asks: “What are you doing kiddo? You really gonna go through with this?” The camera pans over Joel’s shoulder and shows a 19-year-old Ellie sitting on the edge of the bed as she carefully places the guitar next to her while a blood-coated machete and an unknown man lay dead at her feet. She looks away at nothing and says: “I’m gonna find… and I’m gonna kill…” then she turns to Joel, finishing with, “every last one of them.” The last shot is Ellie’s determined face, with specks of splattered blood and a small cut on her forehead. The screen goes black, and bold, white words fade in that spell: “The Last of Us,” accompanied by a wonderfully familiar guitar score that introduced the second line of text reading: “Part II.”