Being human, forming bonds and attachments, and caring for others. Those virtues will certainly lead to your demise in a post-apocalyptic world like The Last of Us. It’s a harrowing tale, full of bleak and dark moments with far few light-hearted scenes. Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed action-adventure game cemented itself as a magnum opus in the industry.
But the Last of Us was released years ago, and it’s time you check out more titles. Dwelling on one title isn’t good. The gaming industry has a scarce collection of decent titles these days. But digging through the earth, we found 8 Games Like the Last of Us and they’re equally dark and depressing.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X
A game that plays out like a movie, Hellblade Senua’s sacrifice preys upon the player’s and the protagonist’s visual and auditory perceptions, ravaging your mind. It makes one thing clear, the game can’t be trusted. You’re given no HUD, no objective marker, and have to rely on hallucinations to make your way through the story.
The combat is nothing more than an appetizer, added for the sake of interactivity, but dying too often might result in your save file being deleted, forcing you to start from the beginning. It’s a depressing story of a heroine’s suffering, enhanced by the raw and credible performance and animations of the protagonist.
It’s a playable movie, a narrative to take in, savor and enjoy, pretty much like the Last of Us.
Max Payne 3
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X
Sure, books and movies make for decent media but video games are the epitome of a writer’s medium and Max Payne 3 proves that. The game features loads of cutscenes right between gameplay sequences and takes away control from the player, but this makes for a unique and enthralling narrative.
Like The Last of Us, you’re thrown into the story of a man with a troubled past, Max, acting as a private bodyguard but things take a turn for the worst. The game features loads of cinematic scenes filled with bloom, bright lights, and chromatic aberration, a bit too much to take in at first glance, but soon even out with the game’s theme and texture.
Like The Last of Us, Max Payne 3 is unforgiving, violent, and gory with heads splitting open upon bullet impact, something now missing from Rockstar’s latest entries. It’s rough, abrasive, and unapologetic in terms of story-telling, making Max’s depressing tale all the more immersive.
Spec Ops: The Line
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X
Spec Ops: The Line is no short of a mind-f*ck, and I couldn’t really express this sentiment without swearing. It starts off, giving first impressions of another military shooter, but soon dives deep into the horrors of war.
Martin Walker navigates a shell of Dubai to “save” the residents and commander Konrad, residing in the Burj Khalifa. As you make your way, you’re treated to some graphic and hyper-realistic moments that absolutely trump story-telling in modern gaming. In my book, it runs a train through The Last of Us, but they’re completely different narratives focusing on similar dark and gritty aspects of life.
Towards the end, you’re not really sure what happened. Was Konrad really the antagonist or was it Walker all along? It’s a psychological thriller and a horror game all in one, preying on the player’s mind and mental fortitude to deliver its gaming highs.
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, Windows
Want another post-apocalyptic game like The Last of Us, Nier: Automata fits the category in terms of the setting and environment but that’s all it shares with Naughty Dog’s Title. Other than that, it’s a beautiful hack-and-slash game, that provides punchy, ridiculous, button-mashing gameplay.
Just like the Last of Us, the main plot of the game is pretty compelling. It’s a story about Androids on a mission to save humanity, but you won’t get it in just one playthrough. In fact, there are five endings to go for and you’ll understand why the game is worth it after achieving the True Ending.
Nier: Automata doesn’t set up its characters or build them all that much. It mostly focuses on the plot, which is still amazing. It’s immersive and visually impactful, akin to The Last of Us, but in an entirely different flavor.
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, Windows
The final installment of the Bioshock series, Infinite throws you into the midst of a mystery of finding a girl as detective Booker Dewitt. You scour through the City of Columbia, highly religious and equally racist, led by a troubled father Comstock.
It’s a weird, strange, and depressing tale that becomes gradually chaotic as the game progresses and boy does it make you question a lot of things. It’s engaging and immersive just like The Last of Us due to its impactful story-telling but contrasts in terms of its punchy gameplay.
The final moments of the game present us with story-changing revelations that give the game a new meaning when you try it out a second time. And for sure, it’s meant to be played again. Bioshock Infinite immerses you in the City of Columbia and its contradictory political climate and religious narrative. If you like The Last of Us, you’ll love Bioshock Infinite.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Release Date: October 26, 2018
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Windows
Rockstar really started exploring some complex narratives after GTA 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t skip a beat on that front. Like The Last of Us, RDR2 presents us with some memorable characters. A diverse group that bands together to seek out the American Dream. The Van Der Linde Gang’s ties start to slip through the cracks through inner turmoil.
Arthur Morgan presents a really life-like and believable character with his own sense of morality. He passes on the torch to John Marston, a man troubled by his own demons and the protagonist of the original Red Dead Redemption.
It shares surreal story-telling elements just like The Last of Us, with its hyper-realistic vistas and intentionally slow and impactful combat and gameplay. You’re in for a ride as the story is long but compelling, keeping the player engaged at all times.
Before Your Eyes
Release Date: 8 April 2021
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Before Your Eyes isn’t so much like the Last of Us in terms of action-adventure, stealth, and story-telling but what it does share is the narrative. To say that it’s sad, dark, and depressing would be an understatement. For a gamer that doesn’t flinch or react to most games, this game really moved me.
You control the game with your webcam and whenever you blink, the game moves forward in time. As the protagonist, you’re tasked to make some choices along the way. Without giving away much about the game, it features a compelling soundtrack, a beautiful art style, and some amazing voice acting, akin to The Last of Us.
The game is only 2 hours long. In contrast to TLOU, where a lovable character dies due to a zombie attack, this game is grounded in reality. It’s a tale that’s relatable and might even be taking place in real-time in someone’s own home and that’s what makes it so impactful.
A Plague Tale Requiem
Release Date: 18 October 2022
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S
A Plague Tale Requiem tells a powerful story with Hugo and Amicia at the forefront. Similar to the Last of Us, the characters are tasked to survive. Disease-ridden rodents are ravaging 14th-century France and the characters embark on the journey for a cure.
Stealth is another key aspect where the game shares DNA with The Last of Us. The characters are full of life and surreal in their portrayal, characterization, and acting. We get to see beautiful vistas and bustling towns. But we’re left with a bitter, yet impactful taste whenever the same towns are ravaged by the plague.
When it comes down to story-telling, stealth combat, and life-life animations, A Plague Tale: Requiem will certainly give you The Last of Us feels for sure.
To be fair, no game is truly like The Last of Us, neither are these games on the list. While this is a list based on my own preferences, it’s criminal to rank them, considering they all hold a weight in their own categories.