The Last of Us is a 2013 video game that looks an awful lot like a highly produced movie or TV show like “The Walking Dead” — but it’s not. Experiencing the full story still requires owning a PlayStation and mastering the zombie game’s controls.
Or does it?
There’s an official movie adaptation of The Last of Us in development (and good luck with that, Sony), but one impatient fan has already converted the game into an online video series that non-gamers can enjoy. Grant Voegtle’s “cinematic playthrough” on YouTube, which is now one episode from completion, traces the 14-hour game’s story but cuts out much of the actual gameplay.
“Games tend to be inflated with lots of narrative fluff that’s only there to provide an excuse for gameplay or exploration scenarios,” Voegtle said. “That becomes really obvious when you start trying to strip a narrative-heavy game like The Last of Us down to its essentials. They do such a fantastic job making everything feel important.”
Here’s the first episode. A word of caution: If The Last of Us were a movie, it would be rated R for both violence and language, so this is probably NSFW or kids:
The videos are different from other game playthroughs on YouTube, commonly known as Let’s Plays, because Voegtle has taken pains to cut out anything that doesn’t look like it would belong in a movie, learning Adobe After Effects and editing in Sony Vegas. He told Re/code that he’d spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 hours on the video project, and counting.
Also crucial to his work: An in-game photo mode, and the ability to turn off information that would normally display on the screen while playing.
“I’m barely pulling this off with The Last of Us as it is, and I have to cheat a lot by cropping the footage and doing heavy editing,” he said. “Hopefully, games in the near future will include filmmaking tools to support fan/community projects like this one.”
The hardest part of it all is picking and choosing what action to show, and what to cut because it might bore non-gamers.
“I have to find the most entertaining and creative route through the battles to surprise fans of the game and yet keep new comers on the edges of their seats, not to mention keep track of continuity in the scene whenever I make cuts,” Voegtle said.
“Sometimes I’ve made cuts that fans weren’t happy about, but I’m relatively sure if you ask someone who’s never played the game, they’re unnoticeable, and it really helps streamline the story,” he added.
So far, Voegtle has not heard from The Last of Us’s publisher, Sony, or its developer, Naughty Dog, but he has seen a few Naughty Dog employees tweet other articles about his videos. Before word started to spread about them, he noted, they had about 30,000 views total, “which is only about $30 in [YouTube] ad revenue.” However, he’s also started to receive donations via PayPal, and his total view count recently crossed 100,000.
(Hat tip to Nathan Ingraham for flagging these videos on Friday).
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.