It’s been a long time coming, but the live-action adaptation of The Last of Us is finally here. After nearly a decade of reliving the adventure of Joel and Ellie in video game form, we now have a new cast, new medium, and a slightly altered take on this classic tale. Episode one of nine aired on HBO and Sky Atlantic last night, so we tuned in to see whether this highly anticipated retelling was worth all the buzz.

By now, every gamer out there knows of the pitch-perfect prologue, which drew us into Naughty Dog's The Last Of Us all those years ago. It was a big task to even muster up some of its magic in this new television format, but by god, director Craig Mazin and video game director Neil Druckmann managed it and then some.

Mazin and co have perfectly encapsulated the tone of The Last Of Us, whilst somehow making it entertaining for newbies and veterans alike. As you can imagine, we here at Push Square have played the Naughty Dog masterpiece a lot over the years, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the show delicately balanced familiar moments from the game with new and interesting deviations.

One of said deviations was the far-expanded pre-apocalyptic prologue which follows Sarah, a young girl going about her last day of normalcy — albeit one laced with a growing sense of dread. It was great to see this segment of the premiere take its time, giving us the space to settle into the new version of this world and its characters.

The Last Of Us TV Show Episode 2

However, once The Last Of Us has its introductions out of the way, it wastes no time shifting things into fifth gear. Despite knowing how this story goes, it was hard not to get swept up in the urgency and panic of episode one’s crescendo of chaos. It plays with your expectations too with a couple of neat fake-outs for video game fans, and there is no shortage of genuine “holy sh*t” moments. What we loved even more was how natural it all felt. There was no wink at the camera, easter eggs, or anything that would puzzle someone that hadn’t played the game. It’s really well done.

And then there is that scene. It is just as heartbreaking as you remember, with terrific turns from both Nico Parker as Sarah and Pedro Pascal as Joel. And we can’t move on without mentioning Gabriel Luna as Tommy, who slips into the role flawlessly despite having very little screen time.

Following in the footsteps of the game, we’re thrust two decades into the future before our eyes have even had the time to dry out. While this interpretation goes a little harder for the whole post-apocalyptic thing, with vine-wrapped road signs and crumbling skyscrapers from the get-go, it backs it up with a fantastically dark reintroduction to its world, and more specifically, Pascal’s Joel. Pascal excels here as he manages to capture the decades of torment without uttering a single word.

The Last Of Us TV Show Episode 3

While we won’t spoil the narrative changes here, this feels like a far more streamlined take of the game’s set-up, but one that still manages to revel in the smaller moments. The details on display in the Boston Quarantine Zone really bring this world to life too. And while the opener is certainly less violently inclined than the game, you still get a sense of the capabilities of characters like Tess (Anna Torv), Marlene (Merle Dandridge), and especially Joel.

To briefly mention Bella Ramsey, who doesn’t get a whole lot of time as Ellie here, we aren’t entirely sold just yet on their performance as the foul-mouthed teen. However, as we get more time with Ellie as the series progresses, we suspect Ramsey will have plenty of opportunities to win us over.

Ultimately, this is an incredibly strong start to this long-awaited series. It feels faithful in all the right ways but still deviates enough to make it interesting for those familiar with the source material. Mazin and co have managed to perfectly capture the tone of the series and we can’t wait to relive this tale through their lens.

To find out when you can tune in for the next episode, click through to our Where to Watch The Last of Us TV Show guide. Additionally, our Full Cast List provides more details about the actors and characters. Once you have watched the first episode yourself, place a vote in our poll and share your first impressions in the comments below.

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