A survivalist dress code, staff walking around in hazmat suits and beat-up vending machines spilling with snacks to loot aren't your usual staples at a premiere event. But, as this was an immersive preview screening of the brand new Last of Us series produced by HBO, these were a perfect mood-setter for a viewing of the first episode (more on episode one below).
Video game TV and film tie-ins are becoming more popular than ever in recent years. With the success of The Witcher series on Netflix and the upcoming release of the Super Mario movie from Illumination, it wasn't going to be long before Sony threw its hat into the live-adaption ring. With The Last of Us being one of the top exclusive titles from PlayStation, it was no surprise when HBO announced it was working on a series based on the original game. If you're looking to get your hands on the powerful PS5 console, why not check out the best PS5 prices?
As a long time fan of the game, I was really excited to be invited to the UK "immersive" screening of the first episode ahead of worldwide release. I went into the event with the brief of a "survivalist" dress code and not much else, so I really wasn't sure what to expect. But walking into the venue was like stepping onto a set direct from the show from the very beginning, with the exterior of the building plastered in warning posters, graffiti and wreckage. Lights flashed eerily overhead as we queued up behind police barriers, and with the posters featuring graphic warning signs of the stages of infection, it was easy to get into that classic end-of-the-world mood.
There was an even more impressive set up inside that featured some excellent post-apocalyptic set pieces, like an abandoned radio station and a crumbling wall littered with various wreckage that opened up to a view of the destroyed city. Best (or worst) of all, were a few back-lit windows situated behind a sofa where two infected actors took delight in scaring attendees that were brave enough to sit down. It was rather fun watching those encounters from afar, I will admit.
And the gritty fun didn't stop in the upstairs of the venue either. Wrecked vending machines overflowing with snacks and drinks littered one end of the hall, whilst the other end housed two very talented artists working on a huge mural of our two protagonists using spray paints and airbrushes. It was a pleasure to watch them finish up such a beautiful piece, and at the end of the event the attendees got to add their own flair by signing it (Yes, of course I signed it).
But what about the show itself?
We were lucky enough to watch the first episode of the brand new series on the big screen. As a long-time fan of the Last of Us franchise since it's first release back in 2013, I was not disappointed. The cast were excellent embodiments of the characters, and watching their performances on screen felt like experiencing the original game again for the first time. The soundtrack is beautifully haunting, with original composer Gustavo Santaolalla bringing his signature music back.
There are plenty of exact dialogue and visual recreations that mirror the original game that will be all too familiar to fans whilst introducing lots of new (and frankly shocking) story points that will leave you entranced. It's a perfect medium of being enjoyable for old fans whilst also being a great introduction to the world for those who have never played the games, and I can't wait to see where the rest of the series goes.
The Last of Us will stream on HBO January 15th in the US and Sky on January 16th in the UK.