Often the combat is punctuated by large sections that consist solely of either walking to your next destination or figuring out how to traverse an obstacle. These moments can sometimes feel a little formulaic, and some may consider the sections a bit tedious, but equally they act as welcome moments of respite from the tension and trauma of the fight or flight sections. One example that could be seen as particularly endearing or doubly frustrating is when you reach a section drenched in water and have to find a way to get Ellie - who can’t swim - across safely. You're often thrown for a loop by a sudden unexpected change (and a few great character beats stem from this) but you’ll pick up on the game’s cycle soon enough so as to expect certain events in sequence.
Knowing that you have to take care of Ellie might sound like a burden, but it’s the opposite. Ellie is capable in a fight and immediately charming from the get-go. Where Joel is a man hardened by a life unlike the one he knew, Ellie hasn’t lived any other way. She’s a seasoned swearer and capable enough in a fight that you’ll rarely need to look after her.
Some concessions to gameplay are a little jarring. Stealth sections featuring AI partners can mean that enemies are staring right at Ellie (or whoever else is with you) and yet aren’t alarmed in the slightest. It's a silly slipup that does break the immersion every now and then but it's largely preferential to having these sections more locked down and scripted.
You’ll feel so drawn into the world because Naughty Dog have done such an excellent job of visually pushing the Playstation 3 as far as it can go. It’s absurd the amount of detail that’s included in each of the game’s locations, with a variety of lovingly-created features that appear only once, and for a brief moment.
The Last Of Us is a genuine masterpiece. It manages to be intensely cinematic but still benefit from being a video game. It offers an unparalleled sense of place and believability in characters who have arcs and dreams and goals, which don’t even necessarily correspond. It’s a fantastical setting that manages to still feel real enough. For its few flaws, it’s made up for in an experience that’s unlike much else. It’s an absolutely essential video game.