How HBO’s The Last Of Us Learned A Lesson In Perspective From The Video Game

The best example of that is how the original game uses perspective to really sock you in the gut at the beginning of the story, a storytelling trick that was not overlooked in the adaptation.

When “The Last of Us” begins, the very first character you control isn’t either of the game’s actual protagonists, Ellie or Joel. You start by playing a tween girl named Sarah, Joel’s daughter.

After the opening cinematic in which we get a quick, but authentic and touching, glimpse at the lovable father/daughter dynamic between Sarah and Joel as she gifts him a new watch in the final minutes of his birthday, the player controls the young girl as she wakes up alone in the house as all hell is breaking loose outside.

As the fungal zombie invasion begins, we experience it through Sarah’s eyes, which in video game language is telling us that she’s one of the main characters and thus is safe.

Joel and Ellie being the main characters of the game series wasn’t common knowledge, you have to remember. Most people registered a gruff looking dude and a young girl on the cover and the assumption was that the girl was Joel’s daughter.

Sadly, Sarah doesn’t make it to the main titles, a gut punch that still, to this day, is a high watermark for any video game opening. The acting by Hana Lani Hayes and Troy Baker is a huge part of why that opening is so effective, but the real reason so many people are taken off-guard by this tragic turn of events is that, up to that point, everything you know about playing video games has told you that she was supposed to be safe.

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