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‘The Last of Us’ Adaptation is Almost Here, Will It Meet Gamer Expectations?

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We’re counting the days until The Last of Us premieres on HBO, and the latest trailer doesn’t make the wait any easier. This trailer has everything: titillating hints to a revolution brewing in a post-apocalyptic world, brief introductions to the game franchise’s most beloved characters, the creature reveals, and a surprisingly menacing version of the saccharine 80’s bop “Take On Me” by A-Ha.

There are some big names attached to this project, including Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin and The Last of Us creator Neil Druckmann himself. The score will be composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, who also did the original score for the game.

By the looks of the trailer, the show will be as visually stunning as the games. The trailer opens up with a pensive Ellie asking Joel, “if you don’t think there’s any hope for the world, why bother going on?” A gruff Joel responds, “You haven’t seen the world, so you don’t know.” Joel goes on to tell Ellie that she’s not family, but cargo. Fans of the game know that Joel eventually does a 180 on that sentiment, but here he is, all business.

The latest trailer gives us more background to Joel and Ellie’s epic journey and the people they meet along the way. The Mandolarian’s Pedro Pascal is our intense protagonist Joel, tasked with getting Ellie (Bella Ramsey, Game of Thrones) west. We get a few peeks at the crumbling cities, snowy forests, and gritty militia-style outposts they encounter, and Ellie shows off the scarred-over bitemark on her arm and the true reason for their trip. It’s revealed that Ellie may be the answer to finding a cure for the Cordyceps fungal infection that left the world in ruins, underscoring the high stakes and how treacherous Joel and Ellie’s journey out west will be.

Ellie’s charming personality and Joel’s rough and authoritative demeanor are on full display in this trailer, and I’m looking forward to Ramsey and Pascal making these beloved characters their own. You’ll see a few familiar faces and may recognize them as some of the other endearing characters Joel and Ellie meet while traveling across the post-apocalyptic U.S. The star-studded cast also includes Merle Dandridge, who reprises her role as Marlene, the leader of the resistance movement the Fireflies; Nick Offerman as the survivalist Bill, and Storm Reid as Riley. Riley’s appearance in the trailer means fans can expect to learn more about Ellie’s past from The Last of Us: Left Behind expansion. We also see glimpses of brothers Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Woodard), and I, for one am not ready to relive that trauma.

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And of course, this trailer saves the best for last: the creature reveal. The last few seconds reveal several cordyceps rising from a fiery pit, which is enough to fuel a few nightmares. Fans of the game will recognize the monster in the center frame as a bloater, the last and most formidable stage in the Cordyceps fungal infection. Honestly, no notes: the creature design looks perfect and faithful to the game’s style. I’m already creeped out by their various clicking noises, much like I was while playing the games.

I was undecided on if I would watch The Last of Us when it was first announced. We all know that movies and shows based on video games can be hit or miss, and I worried about how such a compelling story would translate to primetime TV. But it’s a great sign that Neil Druckmann is credited as a writer for this project, and it’s obvious that HBO/Warner Brothers are invested in producing a faithful retelling of this story. I’m excited to see how accurate the show is to the source material and what new nightmares it’ll bring to audiences.

The Last of Us premieres on HBO and HBO Max on January 15.

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Jenika McCrayer (she/her) is a writer and horror enthusiast based in Brooklyn, NY. Her adoration for the sociopolitical aspects of the genre inform her writing on gender, politics, and education.

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The 5 Best Spooky Games To Play This Fall

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Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for all year: Spooky Season!

There’s a magic in the air that you can only feel during Spook Season. It’s by far the best season, full of treats, coziness, and, of course, HALLOWEEN!

My favorite fall self-care ritual is popping a giant bowl of popcorn, lighting a concerning amount of candles, and cuddling underneath three blankets to unwind with a good horror movie or video game.

A video game with the right amount of spooky imagery and soundscape can definitely elevate the #vibes and get you excited for the season ahead. Here are five of my favorite video games to get you in the Spooky Season Spirit:

Animal Crossing (Nintendo Switch)

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How long do you think you’d have to be away from your island for your villagers to organize a search party? It might be time to clear the weeds on your island and get rid of the cockroaches in your house, babes. Unless that’s the kind of Beetlejuice vibe you’re going for, of course!

Animal Crossing is still one of the best games to get you excited for any season, and Spooky Season is no exception. The new update included over 9,000 new items, which includes a ton of new seasonal decor items, limitless Halloween costume possibilities, and fun ways to interact with your villagers. And now that your villagers can visit your place, it’s a great time to turn it into a haunted house!

Night in the Woods (Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Xbox, Windows, iOS)

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When I first started playing Night in the Woods, I figured it would trigger repressed memories of growing up in a smaller town. But I was quickly immersed in the game’s idyllic fall scenery elevated by its buoyant and melodic soundtrack.

You play as Mae, a recent college dropout who returns to her small hometown to reconnect with her friends. The town is surrounded by thick and treacherous woods, and most of her neighbors wish she had stayed away (and do not hesitate to tell her as much). Mae quickly discovers a dark secret about the town and how it relates to her missing friend Casey. Mae also has some secrets of her own, and her unreliable narration will have you rushing toward the end in search of more.

 Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Nintendo Switch)

Poor Luigi. Always playing second controller behind his more popular and beloved Mario, he’s now forced to explore a haunted mansion to rescue his brother and their friends after King Boo snatches them.

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While Luigi’s Mansion 3 is light on the horror, you’ll still have a lot of fun sucking up ghosts and other malevolent spirits with Luigi’s vacuum. Luigi’s trembles and whines throughout the game will also get you in the right spooky mood for this season. This game is a lot of fun as couch co-op as well. A second player can control Gooigi, Luigi’s slimy clone companion, and Professor E. Gadd’s latest invention.

What Remains of Edith Finch (Nintendo Switch, Windows, iOS, Playstation, Xbox)

This beautiful and chilling game follows Edith Finch as she explores her childhood home in Washington state. The gothic Victorian home is perpetually shrouded in fog and has sprawling additions much like the Winchester Mystery House in San Francisco. Edith believes her family is cursed in a way that only leaves one member of each generation alive, and the bedrooms of the deceased are sealed off and treated as shrines.

Each Finch passed away in a peculiar way, and Edith’s tour of the house allows you to explore each family member’s room. You play as Edith, crawling through hidden corridors and trapdoors into each family member’s room, and also as the deceased during their final moments. There are also some fun easter eggs for horror enthusiasts. The game is endearing, eerie, and at times tragic.

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Death’s Door (Nintendo Switch, Windows, Xbox, Playstation)

Work is hell, right? In Death’s Door, you play as a plucky crow and a harbinger of death tasked to bring back souls to the bureaucratic Reaping Commission. You’re also obligated to bring back larger souls that have outstayed their welcome in the world of the living.

Adorable isn’t really a word you’d find often on this site, but Death’s Door has such an adorably moody aesthetic that’s elevated by the indelible soundtrack. If you couldn’t tell, I love a good game soundtrack! And out of all the games listed, Death’s Door has my favorite one. It’s the perfect backdrop to exploring overgrown ruins, lush cemeteries, and long-forgotten fortresses in search of lost souls.

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These games are sure to get you ready for the Spooky Season ahead! Each game is perfect for curling up on the couch and recharging from inevitable Halloween candy sugar crashes. All that’s left to decide is which one you’ll play first.

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‘Hooked on You’ Review: Is it Enough to Get You Hooked?

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Hooked on You, the Dead by Daylight dating simulator, lets you get to know some of the killers a little better (and in some cases, a lot better). This game has many things I love about dating sims: a cute anime-inspired art style, quirky and risqué dialogue, and characters with interesting backstories. However, I think it falls a little flat as a standalone game as opposed to a companion to DBD.

The game starts when you wake up on an island without your memories. You are talked to by a mysterious narrator. Then the even more mysterious Ocean (referred to as the narrator of the narrator) before you see the group of sexy killers playing beach volleyball and thus begin your interactions with them. After that, it plays like a traditional dating sim. Your dialogue options affect the outcome of your interactions, and you can tailor your choices to whomever you decide to romance that playthrough. There’s also a recurring reflex-based minigame that I found pretty tricky.

The characters are fun, and Hooked on You gives you a little look into their lore. Releasing a dating sim for horror game characters is a unique way to get to know the killers. Each character has their own archetype: Huntress is the strong cute girl, Trapper is the obnoxious meathead rich boy, Spirit is the book-loving goth girl, and Wraith (my favorite) is the quiet soft boy. Each character is memorable and makes the game worth replaying. You’ll have to click through a lot of repeated dialogue to get to the new gameplay. It’s unfortunate because you can only unlock some routes after romancing and rejecting all four characters, so if you want to collect all the endings, you have to play through the game at least four times.

Furthermore, this game did what I think the developers intended: it got me interested in Dead By Daylight lore. I watched character backstory videos on YouTube to try and anticipate what my killer of choice would like. Depending on which character you choose, they will also tell you an abbreviated version of their backstory, which you get the opportunity to ask them more about later. One way the developers could improve the game is by releasing free updates with more characters. I know we’d all like to see Trickster as a romanceable option!

Unless you’re a huge DBD fan, other horror sims offer more content for a similar price. My recommendations are Monster Prom, and Sucker for Love. Monster Prom offers more scenarios and characters to choose from, and Sucker for Love has more engaging gameplay with more compelling options based on your choices. Overall, Hooked on You is cute, and I liked it, but there are better games out there.

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