“The Last of Us” is a bona fide hit, becoming HBO’s second-most-watched series premiere in more than a decade, and breaking the record for audience growth between episodes.

The action packed drama was borne of a video game that was no safe bet when it was released in 2013.

LA Times game critic Todd Martens joined Lisa McRee to talk about the origins of the series and how it grew into a phenomenon.

For the bulk of the game, players act as Joel, who is tasked with escorting a young woman named Ellie through a fungus-caused zombie apocalypse.

Ellie is believed to be the key to a cure against the disease.

Martens shared his thoughts on the faithfulness of HBO’s adaptation, which stars Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie.

“As somebody who’s played the game twice now, I played it right before the show came out and I played it back in 2013, there are moments in the show that are like one-for-one dialogue from the game. Obviously there are some tweaks, there are some changes to how the fungus behaves. The game is very episodic, and the show follows that episodic approach,” Martens said.

“The Last of Us” game focuses on the emotional development of the characters, rather than violent action sequences.

“There’s lots of gunplay. But it’s also a game where you can go two hours between actions. It’s a game that really is about conversation between Joel and Ellie and how Joel starts to see the world through Ellie’s eyes. Joel’s had a lot of a lot of tragedy in his life. Ellie is a young woman who’s never been outside of militarized zones. So it’s this very bleak world that Ellie starts to see is very beautiful. It becomes two character studies and how they each see the world through each other’s eyes,” Martens explained.

New episodes of “The Last of Us” air Sundays on HBO. The series has been picked up for a second season.

Watch the full interview above.

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