Lots of games have emotional stories that make players cry by the time act three is wrapping up, but the list of games that make us shed a few tears before the opening credits is a lot shorter. Most recently, Ori and the Blind Forest joined that short list, but the game that usually comes to mind first is Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. The game’s cinematic/playable opening is so well-constructed that even people way outside the target demographic end up getting lost in the game’s opening tragedy.
React is a YouTube channel that attempts to capture unique moments on film. The videos are usually centered on either the elderly or the very young and range from reactions to unique foods (kids trying frog legs) to something like teens learning that Zayn is leaving One Direction. The site also has a whole section dedicated to gaming reactions and most recently featured a group of elderly people playing through the first fifteen minutes of The Last of Us (act one spoilers ahead).
If you’ve played The Last of Us (on PS3 or PS4), you know Joel and his daughter Sarah experience a terrible tragedy in the opening scenes of the game. This video captures a few very inexperienced gamers reacting to those frightening, tense, and tragic opening moments of the multiple game of the year award winner.
Things start off light-hearted enough as the players react to Joel and Sarah’s conversation, and it’s clear as the players laugh and ‘d’aw’ at the father and daughter that an emotional connection has been established. There are a few complaints that the game is more of a movie than a game, but once Sarah gets up and starts walking around that changes.
The players are all excited by the action at the beginning of the game and after violently reacting to the first jump scare or two most of the players laugh and smile. The smiles fade as the players started to realize that Joel and Sarah are in serious trouble and the subjects start to show signs of worrying.
The real reward to the video is watching the last few minutes, as (last spoiler alert warning!) the shooting is about to take place. Watching the gamers put the pieces together while the soldier is on the radio with his commanding officer really shows how invested they became in these characters in just ten short minutes. The reactions to the aftermath of the shooting are very similar to what gamers of every age went through while playing The Last of Us. Some of them were angry, some called the game sick, and others just sat in silence soaking it in.
Although the early stages of the video are good for a few laughs and show how inexperienced gamers react to a much more cinematic experience than they are used to, the sadness at the end of the video definitely proves that Naughty Dog managed to create a cinematic experience that is accessible to users far beyond the original target audience. We expect film audiences to connect with the story just as well when the movie is released.
How did you react to the opening scenes of The Last of Us? Was it similar to what you saw in the Elders React video? Let us know in the comments.