5 Reasons Why the Series Is a Great Video Game Adaptation – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

5 Reasons Why the Series Is a Great Video Game Adaptation

The topic of video game adaptations has always been a sensitive one, as they often fail to live up to the hype and expectations of fans. The lack of faith in the source material and the difficulty in translating the gaming experience to a different medium has resulted in many failures. However, there have been a few recent adaptations that have managed to break the curse of video game adaptations.

Werewolves Within, the new Super Mario Bros. movie, and the HBO series The Last of Us have all received critical acclaim as successful video game adaptations. While movies have struggled to capture the essence of the source material, TV has proven to be a better medium for adaptations. The Last of Us, in particular, has been praised for its faithful and authentic adaptation of the video game.

One of the reasons for its success is its ability to capture the video game’s raw dramatic element. The show’s slow-burn horror approach, with occasional appearances of the monsters, portrays the journey of two survivors trying to live through extraordinary circumstances. The casting of Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie is also spot on, with their authentic performances cementing their characters’ identities.

The showrunners have also avoided the temptation to vulgarly readapt gameplay and instead focused on creating a character-driven horror TV show. The show remains faithful to the source material when it needs to be, but it also makes changes to fit the narrative better. Unhappy fans may not appreciate the changes, but the final result is something that most viewers and players enjoy.

The Last of Us is a technical achievement with excellent visual and practical effects, but it’s the show’s dramatic arcs that keep viewers hooked week after week. The characters’ resilience is tested in the aftermath of an apocalypse, and their struggles to survive and maintain their humanity make for compelling viewing. The inclusion of Frank and Bill in Season 1 was an impressive addition that showcased the show’s ability to create genuine relationships amidst the crisis.

In conclusion, The Last of Us is an excellent TV show that has broken the curse of video game adaptations. Its success can be attributed to its faithful adaptation, authentic casting, and its focus on characters and drama. While video game adaptations will always be a tricky subject, The Last of Us has set a high standard for future adaptations to follow.

There aren’t many arguments we can use to fight the so-called curse of video game adaptations. After all, they’re usually not very good, and faith in the source material has faded away. It seems they’re simply two worlds that shouldn’t be mixed, albeit the probable success of the productions if fan-servicing turns out to be effective.

Can you name three superb adaptations that have been released in recent years? If you can answer, you’re probably sticking with Werewolves Withinthe new Super Mario Bros. movie, and the HBO blitz of a show The Last of Us. In the case of the movies, the past speaks for itself and few studios will go for material that isn’t a surefire bet. But TV proved to be a great medium this year. The Last Of Us took everyone’s expectations and, save for a couple of boring detractors, blew everyone’s minds with its solid adaptation of the video game. What’s better about this recent success is that it revealed there wasn’t a secret to it. The following are some of the reasons we came up with as to why The Last of Us is such a great adaptation of a video game.


It Perfectly Captures the Video Game’s Raw Dramatic Element


Those of us who played the game know how faithful the series felt at first from an aesthetic point of view. However, when the show decidedly stayed on mainly a dramatic narrative, we were surprised at how well it played against our expectations. Perhaps, this was what we needed and we didn’t know it. Most importantly, the showrunners aren’t intent on making Ellie and Joel’s journey an easy one or one that gets resolved quickly. This one is a slow-burn horror show with occasional appearances of the monsters we would speak about. But it’s mostly based on what it must portray: two survivors trying to live through extraordinary circumstances.

The Casting Feels Authentic


It’s safe to say no one can think of better casting choices than Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie. There’s just no way. From their physicality to what they evolve into, their participation in the show is the result of a precise character study by a casting director and the performers themselves. We could say their reference is good enough, but in this regard, the video game isn’t as functional as we would think. They are authentic because of their performance abilities, great writers, and directors who clearly understand what kind of show The Last of Us is.

Related: Why The Last of Us Is Still Excellent TV for Fans Who’ve Never Played the Game

Other performers in the show like Anna Torv, Melanie Lynskey, Gabriel Luna, Nick Offerman, and Murray Bartlett are also essential to making this a character-driven approach to a horror TV show.

It Never Tries to Vulgarly Readapt Gameplay

A Clicker in The Last of Us

Yes, they could have made this a full-blown horror show with hordes of zombies and monsters attacking and eating people. It would have been actually easier. Fortunately, creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann decided otherwise and stayed away from what other adaptations focused on in the past.

Perhaps, it’s somewhat of a sin, but it’s easy to forget where this came from. There is absolutely nothing that ties it to the concept of a video game. Not narratively or aesthetically. This is a drama show inspired by another medium that runs on another artistic channel.

It’s Faithful to the Source Material When It Has to Be

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us (2023)

However, it doesn’t mean The Last of Us cancels everything you know about the game. It’s very similar and in some cases, you will notice this.

Related: Why The Last of Us Is Still Excellent TV for Fans Who’ve Never Played the Game

At the core of its storyline, everything remains the same between Ellie and Joel and that’s what remains important about the show. Some unhappy fans weren’t as keen on the small changes, but we can guess viewers and players are mostly happy with the final result. We can’t see anything other than following up on this storytelling style for when season 2 is produced and released.

It’s Always About Genuine Characters Going Through the Improbable

The Last of Us episode 3

The Last Of Us is a great technical achievement because of its visual effects and its practical make-up effects that made the adaptation even more faithful to the original source. But all of that remained secondary as showrunners decided to use several dramatic arcs to keep us hooked week after week.

The video game takes place during the aftermath of an apocalypse and so does the TV series. In the desolate and godforsaken remains of civilization, humankind survives. The resilience of characters is put to the test as the apocalypse arrives but no one seems to recognize it for what it is. They are just fighters trying to survive the day. But what about tomorrow? Ellie and Joel’s storyline is strong, but Frank and Bill were an impressive inclusion in Season 1 that left everyone flabbergasted as a genuine relationship was born out of the crisis. It’s safe to say Frank and Bill were among the reasons why Season 1 was so effective.

You can stream Season 1 of The Last of Us in its entirety on Max.

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