Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights is a haven for horror enthusiasts and pop culture aficionados, and this year's star attraction, "The Last of Us," brings the post-pandemic nightmares of the video game to life in terrifying fashion.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the 2013 game by Naughty Dog, Universal Studios has created a walk-through haunted house that's simultaneously a frightening experience and a faithful love letter to the game.
Welcome to hell
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A haunting tone is set as guests wait outside the giant Universal soundstage adorned with The Last of Us artwork, whilst Gustavo Santaolalla’s solemnly beautiful theme for the game plays in the background.
Inside, the attraction immediately places guests into the action of the Pittsburgh Quarantine Zone, where we must navigate our way around Joel and Ellie’s crashed truck as human raiders leap out to catch us off-guard. This scene is where we are treated to our first glimpse of the actor who plays Joel, who’s make-up and costuming are impressively detailed and convincing. He acts out the all-new dialogue provided by the game's original voice actor Troy Baker and it really does feel like the dystopian world of The Last of Us is unfolding before your eyes.
The heart-pounding highlight of this attraction is undoubtedly encountering the Infected. As you journey through dark immersive sets of the devastated city, Runners and Clickers keep you in a perpetual state of anxiety. Cleverly, the infected stages progress as you walk through the haunted house, building a tension where behind every corner hides a new danger.
As standard, a Halloween Horror Nights haunted house never skimps on jump scares, and "The Last of Us" is no exception - but there’s a little more depth to the frights in this attraction when compared to the other 9 Haunted Houses on offer this year. The bleak atmosphere and desperate struggles of Joel and Ellie put humanity into the horror by conveying survival in a hopeless environment. Make no mistake, you will leap out of your skin when the Clickers appear, but it’s the attraction's unyielding sombre tone that will continue to haunt you long after you’ve run screaming out the exit.
Fans of the game will appreciate Universal’s attention to detail in recreating the game's post-apocalyptic environments. Subtle references and Easter eggs are sprinkled throughout, from familiar notes and drawings to iconic in-game moments recreated with impressive accuracy. The gamer in me longed to linger in each room and admire the beautiful sets, but the human in me could not resist the survival instinct to run away from the petrifying Bloaters that surrounded.
Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights' "The Last of Us" is a must-visit for fans of the game and the series, but even newcomers will appreciate the sheer craftsmanship that went into bringing this virtual nightmare to life. Whether you're dodging Infected or marvelling at the fungus-covered tunnels, this attraction is a testament to the power of video games to inspire and terrify. Just be prepared to leave with your survival instincts on high alert.
Experience The Last of Us at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, running select nights at Universal Orlando Resort September 1 – November 4 and at Universal Studios Hollywood September 7 – October 31.