Nolan North playing through the first hour of The Last of Us reminded me how intensely traumatic the game's opening sequence is. Watching the unconquerable Nathan Drake squirm, flinch, and worry over what he describes as "terrifying for a father" is traumatic in a whole new way, as well as weirdly irresistible. Sweetening the deal is Troy Baker and Hannah Hayes accompanying North as he plays. Baker and Hayes portray The Last of Us protagonist Joel and his daughter, Sarah, respectively.
The beginning of The Last of Us is an absolute tragedy, tasking you with carrying your 12-year-old daughter to safety as the world around you is overtaken by zombies. The end of the opening sequence has Joel cradling his daughter as she chokes out her final breath.
Predictably, it's here when North realizes how grim a world he'd just obliviously wandered into. Although North portrays one of the game's antagonists, David, it's clear he's new to the story. As the title screen takes over, he watches mouth agape as Hayes and Baker share tears in each other's embrace.
Even as Hayes and Baker tearfully share behind-the-scenes memories, North holds an astonished expression for several long moments before snapping back into the conversation. "It still… every time, I don't know how that manages to get me," says Baker, and I can't express how real that is to me.
The whole thing is more like a commentary track between three involved actors, with Baker consistently providing behind-the-scenes insights into one of the generation's most important games. It's every bit worth a watch, and the best news is it's just part one of North playing through the entire game.