“But, for 12 or so hours, Last of Us needs its rules. For its measured tension as Joel crouches between blind, hearing enhanced ‘Clickers,’ too often the work marginalizes itself with familiarity, reducing thematic coverage. Incapable of swimming, Ellie requires assistance on improvised palette rafts. Of course there’s one at each water-focused juncture. Ladders conveniently poke from unreachable highs. Empty bottles lie strewn for distraction against Clicker encounters.
It’s less survival than it is a windowed peering into functional game design. However, Last of Us is also false. Ammunition for Joel’s increasingly implausible backpack arsenal cannot often be harvested from the dead. The use of a fabrication to harness player stress is damaging rather than effective.”