The Last of Us: Power of Narrative Through Exploration

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 606 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Words: 606|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Narrative in The Last of Us
  3. Key Mechanics in The Last of Us
  4. Conclusion
  5. Works Cited


The Last of Us is a video game published by Sony Computer Entertainment in 2013. It is developed by Naughty Dog and was directed by Bruce Straley. In short, The Last of Us is set in the post-apocalyptic United States. The game tells the story of the main protagonists Joel and Ellie, as they endure their arduous journey across the desolate country after a fungal plague has largely decimated humanity. The Last of Us allows players to participate in a deeply emotional and evocative experience, which is why I believe that narrative is the core aesthetic of the game.

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Narrative in The Last of Us

In an overwhelmingly dark world with little humour, hope and humanity, The Last of Us’ narrative succeed tremendously in delivering an engaging, impactful and heart-wrenching story. A mixture of close-quarters and gory combat, suspenseful gameplay and powerful cutscenes, results in a narrative that refuses to desensitize players, keeping engagement and emotional vulnerability high. One of the primary dynamics that add to the narrative, is exploration.

Exploration is one of the key dynamics present throughout. While the locations are somewhat linear, they do not hinder the explorative nature of the game. Searching through every hide and hollow in the hope of scavenging limited resources is both thrilling and rewarding. This enables players to apply different gameplay strategies for overcoming future adversities, as having the security of scavenged resources is a decisive factor. Opting for a more ‘stealthy’ approach reminds the player of the harsh, terrifying reality of the world, reinforcing the games core aesthetic. Exploration can also lead to optional conversations which affect the overall narrative of the story furthermore, as we gain more insight into the characters, their purposes and motivations. Collectables, such as notes and personal belongings can be found throughout, and provide greater insight and perspective of the world and its inhabitants. While exploring, the player is subjected to a perfect balance between moments of respite and more intense emotional and action moments, which reinforces the aesthetic of narrative. Some key mechanics that contribute to this dynamic are the items and the crafting system.

Key Mechanics in The Last of Us

Items, a key mechanic in The Last of Us, are composed of throwables, ammunition, bindings, rags, weapon parts and character supplements to name a few. Items are scavenged by the player across their journey in-game. The natural scarcity of the items in this world reinforces the need for the player to embark on thorough exploration. Ammunition is a vital item, as the player will find many adversities and terrifying hordes of enemies along their travels. Secret, locked rooms containing large quantities of items can be discovered by exploring, which evokes a great deal of satisfaction and security within the player, encouraging them to explore further.

The crafting system mechanic also greatly contributes to the dynamic of exploration. Individually, many of the aforementioned items may not be of much use. It is the combination of such items that allow the player to craft new, more useful items. Healing kits are crafted by the combination of the individual items rags and alcohol. Other crafts include Molotov cocktails, shivs and various types of bombs. The player must make trade-offs for certain items to craft. The better equipped the player is by utilising the crafting system, the more they can embrace exploration, obtaining necessary upgrades and giving them a sense of progression, satisfaction and security.

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In conclusion, The Last of Us’ core aesthetic, narrative, is evoked by the dynamic of exploration, which is created by the run time behavior of the mechanics, namely the items and the crafting system. 

Works Cited

  1. Naughty Dog. The Last of Us. Sony Computer Entertainment, 2013.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Last of Us: Power of Narrative Through Exploration. (2023, August 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from
“The Last of Us: Power of Narrative Through Exploration.” GradesFixer, 04 Aug. 2023,
The Last of Us: Power of Narrative Through Exploration. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
The Last of Us: Power of Narrative Through Exploration [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 04 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from:
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