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The first reviews of HBO’s TV adaptation of The Last of Us have started appearing, and they’re widely positive.
Variety calls the show “a promising, moving zombie saga”, stating: “What works about The Last of Us works well enough that one sees the near future in which the show winds up among television’s best.”
Digital Spy calls it “the first contenter for best show of the year”, adding that the show makes changes to the game’s narrative but claiming: “While diehard purists might balk at some of these changes, that silence you can hear is us not caring because this show will transcend all that.”
In a 5-star review, Empire calls it “comfortably the best adaptation of a video-game ever made”, declaring it “a superb example of how to make an adaptation work, how to retain the elements of what worked while having the confidence to explore bold new avenues, to expand the universe, to make a thing that stands on its own two feet”.
The Last of Us - official trailer
Not all publications have been without criticism, however. Entertainment Weekly gives the show a B- rating, claiming it “can’t decide if it’s an adaptation or a replay”.
“One episode completely shifts the game’s canon, but some scenes get recreated shot-for-shot,” it explains. “That may work best for newbies, or fans who prefer adaptations barely adapted. It contributes to the feeling of watching someone else’s replay.”
TV Guide, meanwhile, gives the show a 7.9 rating, saying “the story occasionally feels rushed” and that “the show could have expanded its perspective beyond the source material even more”, adding that it’s “at its best when it goes beyond the game”.
Last month the show’s co-creator and co-writer Craig Mazin made headlines when he claimed that The Last of Us is “the greatest story that has ever been told in video games”, declaring it “an open-and-shut case”.
Mazin went on to explain that, in his opinion, one of the reasons for this is that its protagonists are just normal people rather than larger-than-life characters.
“They didn’t shoot anything out of their eyeballs,” he explained. “They were just people. And that, in and of itself, is remarkably rare in games.
“The fact that they kept it so grounded, and really made you feel – I had never experienced anything like it, and I’ve been playing video games since 1977.”
The show, which stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as its lead characters, will premiere on January 15, 2023 on HBO Max, and a day later on Sky Atlantic in the UK.