The Last Of Us: Our Stand-Out Moments

The Last of Us: Remastered is out right now, exclusively on PlayStation 4. For some, this definitive version will provide a good excuse to dive back into what we voted the best game of 2013. For others, namely those who have yet to the play, do yourself a favour and give this article a miss for now, unless you have absolutely no intention of playing the game, ever.

From here on in, it’s spoilers all the way.

As we’ve said countless times in the past, despite its solid web of gameplay mechanics and jaw-dropping visuals, it’s the narrative in The Last of Us that really ties the whole thing together. Naughty Dog has created likeable characters in the past, Nathan Drake and his fortune-hunting friends being particularly stand-out examples. However, with The Last of Us, the acclaimed developer wanted us not just to associate with the collection of polygons on-screen but to care about them too.


Given its post-apocalyptic backdrop and persistent themes of entropy and isolation, the game presented fertile ground in which to develop a grounded story. Needless to say, The Last of Us has some shocking stand-out moments though, upon closer inspection, these are almost dwarfed by the number of poignant, tender scenes that play out especially towards the later half of the game.

Personally, my particular stand-out moment comes shortly after the assault on Tommy’s dam. Upon arrival it seems like, for a moment at least, Joel has reached the end of his journey. Having lost Tess, he’s weary, disillusioned and just wants to get the whole ordeal over and done with. To his surprise, however, Tommy refuses to take Ellie off his hands. Having heard the two discussing what to do with her, she flees the dam in the midst of a hunter siege, taking a horse and heading into the wilderness. Joel and Tommy eventually track her down to an abandoned farmhouse, to Ellie flicking through the pages of diary belonging to a young girl who once lived there.

Given that she was born and raised after the outbreak, there’s so much about the old world that Ellie is unable to grasp. Instead of worrying about teenage crushes or what film to watch, she’s had to endure unthinkable horrors and even kill people just to survive; for her, luxury has never been an option, but a distant dream. What follows is perhaps the most dramatic dialogue found throughout the entire game.

Coincidentally, Matt’s stand-out moment from the game comes straight after. Having laid everything bare, Joel and Ellie return to Tommy’s dam, the two agreeing to go their own separate ways. Something clearly changes in Joel, however, as Matt points out. Although he never says it Joel realises that, in becoming too close to Ellie, he would only be setting himself up for yet another tragedy. Whether it was his parting promise to Tess, his memories of Sarah, or his belief in a cure for the infection, he changes his mind at the very last moment, agreeing to take Ellie to Colorado. “Ellie’s expression at that moment brings a smile to my face every time.”

Stefan went for something a little less obvious when cast his mind back to the game:

One of the more understated and yet quite powerful stories comes from a character that we never meet. Ish, who lived in the sewers some time before you come through with Ellie, Henry and Sam. He took refuge in the sewers from the outbreak, but eventually found survivors and came to invite them to live underground. It seems to have been a time of happiness in amidst the chaos, but a simple mistake, one little error led to calamity, allowing the infected to get in.

As you play through this area, this story is told by way of collectibles dotted around the location, and there are some really quite haunting low notes to their tale that can be seen in the environment.

He also mentions the part in which Joel and Ellie cross paths with Sam and Henry:

These were two characters that I had come to really enjoy having along for the ride. The budding friendship between Sam and Ellie was quite joyous, and it was a sign that maybe, just maybe, this could be a path to happiness for the four of them.

However, almost every high point is savagely undercut in TLOU, and this was not to last. At some point in the preceding chapters, Sam had been scratched by one of the infected, and how Henry is forced to react to this was easily one of the most heart-wrenching moments in the game for me.

For Blair, his particular highlight came right towards the end of the game during winter, saying that only then did The Last of Us truly blow him away:

Yes, it’s a rather large section but there was one stand-out moment for me, where the game split the narrative, between an intense boss fight with Ellie – which was brilliantly executed and brought the game’s stealth mechanics to a new and exciting place – and Joel, at the end of his tether searching for her, battling his way through enemies while the clock tower chimed in both timelines.

It’s a beautiful way to tell the story, and just an excellent way of using multiple characters and their perspectives to show you the complete thing – this would’ve been lost if it were Joel searching for Ellie while you didn’t know her whereabouts. Overall an incredible moment for storytelling in video games.

I found that there’s also an eerily chilling part of the game that comes earlier in the winter chapter. With Joel seemingly on his way out, Ellie is forced to trek out on her own for food and supplies, eventually tracking a wounded deer to an abandoned mill. Here she encounters David, another survivor who at first seems hostile but in the end agrees to trade her meds for the deer. In this particular section of the game, the two of them fight back an infected horde before fleeing into the mill, only to fend off even more waves as they come pouring in. Surprisingly, there are no casualties yet it’s a moment short lived when David finally opens up, confessing to Ellie that many of his men have recently been killed by a madman and his companion. A young girl…

So there you have it. Though we all confess to finding the over-arching story both grounded and fascinating, these are just some of our stand-out moments. Drop us a comment below and tell us what your particular stand-outs were, however obvious you think they are.



  1. It should be expected, but I’ll say it anyway… *SPOILERS*

    I too loved the sewers sections and the scattered notes throughout. Especially the ones about Ish and the development in his battle for survival. There are even notes outside of the sewers, suggesting that he survived. I absolutely adore this attention to detail.
    One particular note in the sewers I found disturbing was the one found in an isolated room; with a set of small bodies under a blood soaked sheet. Incredible sense of loss and dread.

    The whole game is masterfully done, I seriously can’t pick out a part that I don’t like. Terrific stuff.

  2. **** SPOILERS GALORE ****

    For me, there are several stand-out moments. I know it’s going to be obvious but the death of his daughter hit us like a truck. Hannypoppie and I played through it and were utterly dumbstruck by how much emotion we felt.

    I’m also with Tef’s mention of Ish. It quietly ramped up the attachment and desire to read more. You then saw the lovely drawings (if I remember correctly) that the children had drawn. Then… was it a moment or two later? You see the little bodies covered with sheets and a dead grown-up nearby. Kyle had to make the choice about killing the children or letting the infected tear them to pieces. He killed them and then himself. Bloody hell. This isn’t nice to type in, even now. :-\

    Oh, Joel. Metal rod. Impaled. Nuff said. Effing ouch!

    Ellie going full-on mental with the machete on Nolan North’s character then watching Joel trying to calm her down. Phew.

    What a game!

  3. **** More SPOILERS ****

    Okay, so a quick bit of non related typing to get the spoilers out of the “Latest Comments” section and…

    Yep, Ish’s story was a real standout part for me and was powerful but so understated, I remember some people played through the game and didnt even know about it because they hadnt picked up the notes.

    Henry & Sam was a real shocker, really sad and I did not see it coming at all.

    Also, the bit I liked about Joel’s metal rod (if I’m remembering this correctly) is that the story shot forward a few months right after and you play as Ellie for a long time and for a good chunk of the game, you don’t know if Joel was alive or dead.

    I’m really going to enjoy playing through it again because I know there are tons of other moments I’ve forgotten or missed.

    • It was the 30-40 seconds after you’d seen Sam was bitten, and you’re just going “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.” in your head. 30-40 seconds of thinking of the ways it can pan out and then, even though you know a part of what is going to happen and what needs to happen, it still manages to knock you for six.

    • Severn – they did a cracking job with that. You knew that Naughty Dog were brave enough to potentially kill off Joel but hoped with every fibre in your being that he was okay. Sneaky, awesome bastards that they are. :-)

    • I’m with you there. As soon as I played with Ellie (sounds a bit wrong) I actually thought it was the end of the game for a minute or so and it had gone into some kind of exploration mode letting you wander around and maybe find a few collectables. I wasn’;t expecting another load of chapters.

      • Bloody hell! I hadn’t thought about it like that. Wow. That must’ve been a real “holy shit” moment for you. “Is this it?”. Wow. That would’ve been beyond brave and equally awesome. Saying that, it would’ve been such a massive downer I think criticism might actually be justified if they played it that negatively.

      • Yep, I had mixed emotions between, that was a bit harsh but (although I wanted to continue playing) thank god the ordeal is over, oh s**t, it’s not!

  4. I’m looking forward to booting this up again later on, only this time on the PS4.
    My stand out moment was this morning/afternoon… Sheepishly turning up to work 3hrs late, then remembering it was TLOU release day when seeing a little brown package sitting on my desk waiting for me.

    There were loads of stand out moments like the chapter when you can tell Ellie’s just had enough and goes quiet as they approach an old train or bus station I think (something like that anyway) but then see’s the giraffes which helps pick her up again.
    I almost forgot I was playing a game and was thinking, oh god, what have done now? Why’s she pissed off with me. I’ve gone and done it again whatever it is I do. lol

    • Yep, I stayed on the roof watching the giraffes for ages and I almost felt bad for moving on and dragging Ellie away! The music for this scene was the reason I got the soundtrack.

  5. Before I say my spoiler-filled bit, let me just post a few chosen words in order to avoid any front page comment-preview spoilers. Hopefully this will be enough words.

    So for me there are so many good bits. All of the ones touched upon already in the article and the comments. Sarah’s death was just… Wow. I remember thinking, I’m only half an hour in and I’m already nearly crying! Also, the giraffe scene. A moment of peace, beauty and serenity in amongst the chaos. Wonderful.

    • Agreed, fella. The truly staggering contrast between the calm serenity and 99.5% of the rest of the game was profound to say the least.

  6. Reading all this is making me want to play the game again!

    For me, the intro was just stunning. As a father of two with a young daughter, the impact of that opening section was huge.

    I also really love Joel’s gradual loss of reason and rationality as he becomes totally obsessed with protecting Ellie. There’s not really a single moment but his behaviour becomes more and more savage and even selfish.

    The ending might be thought of as a let down by some but only if they didn’t fully grasp the magnitude of his decision to rob mankind of a potential cure just so he could have his life with Ellie, and what’s more, she knew it!

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