The Last Of Us’s demo is launched from the God of War title screen. From there, the PlayStation Store loads, and you download a small 130 MB file. I was surprised at the small file size of the demo, but of course, launching it runs a custom download screen where the actual demo is sucked through the tubes into your living room. This takes about 20 minutes, depending on your Internet connection.
The title screen of The Last Of Us looks prerendered at first glance, and then I realized it wasn’t. You can actually preorder The Last Of Us right from the demo’s title screen; a link will take you to the appropriate page on the PlayStation Store. You can play one section of the game, entitled “The Outskirts.”
The game puts you in the middle of the plot, in an unusually dark and rainy environment. Unlike many other games that enjoy their shades of brown, there’s a muted set of colors in this ruined street. The Last Of Us didn’t bombard me immediately with tutorial messages like “Press X to climb” which I actually admired. The in-game tutorials available from the pause menu highlight the fight or flight nature of combat, and recommend stealth and discretion whenever possible. I didn’t get my first button prompt until a bit of atmospheric dialogue, which I admired while listening to the rain come in through all channels of my surround sound.
The two NPC’s I was accompanied by didn’t feel like they were bound to me or my actions; their movements felt natural. I watched Ellie brush the water out of her face while she trod on in the rain. I tried walking into the older woman (whose name I forget), and my collision almost knocked her over. I felt bad and resolved not to do that again.
I eventually found my way into a building. The flashlight, when used, feels like it’s a little slow to follow your movements. I discovered a corpse of one of the infected, and took the time, for some reason, to enter the inventory menu. Moving through your inventory doesn’t pause The Last Of Us. If anything, it feels like ZombiU. I could use materials to craft new weapons, or use supplements (essentially skill points) I might find to train to skills and abilities. Even with these at my disposal, I was nervous about every step that I took.
Of course, going through a certain door resulted in a quick time event. Suffice it to say, some poor infected died, and I had to heal myself. This did feel like part of a tutorial, but I was willing to let it slide. Again, my NPC companions looked natural, as we all searched a room together for supplies. I watched one methodically go cabinet by cabinet, looking for anything of use. Little details like this made me feel like I was in another world, as opposed to one generated by a video game. If I run under a source of running water, my character will shield his face, for example. Believable interactions with the environment and people around me are one of the reasons I rated Bioshock Infinite so highly, and The Last Of Us, after only a few minutes, already seems to be continuing that trend.
I soon entered an area where I had to continue on foot. This was my first taste of combat, and it went poorly. After subduing one target, I made too much noise, and was beset by three foes. The most infected got ahold of me, and after a struggle, bit me. Instant death.
The second time around, I took things more slowly. I still ended up biting off more than I could chew, but with my health bar at its very end, I used a metal pipe to beat two opponents into oblivion, then fired shots from my revolver into a more dangerous foe from a distance. The coast clear, I signalled my followers to come and… the demo ended.
I played for about 15-20 minutes, which I guess is a normal demo length. I did take my time looking at my surroundings, but I wanted more, and that’s about the best I thing I can say about a demo. After the demo, a trailer played, and then I was taken directly to the PlayStation Store where I could preorder The Last Of Us. Not that I asked to go to the PlayStation Store; I did not.
It’s a good taste of the game, and very atmospheric, but it’s agonizingly short. Also, being taken RIGHT to the preorder page without asking is a mean thing to do. The Last Of Us releases on June 14.