|This article is about Hometown. For the the multiplayer map of the same name, see Hometown (Multiplayer).|
The game begins by introducing Joel, a single father living near Austin, Texas, with his daughter Sarah. He comes home late one night, talking on the phone with his brother Tommy. He finds Sarah asleep on the couch; after waking up she gives him a new wristwatch for his birthday, and Joel puts her to bed after she falls asleep again. A couple of hours later, Sarah wakes up to a frantic phone call from Tommy, who is looking for Joel. However, the call gets disconnected. She gets up and goes around the house looking for her father.
Before leaving her room, Sarah finds a birthday card she made for her dad with a dinosaur on the front that she forgot to give to him. She then goes to the bathroom at the end of the hall that contains a newspaper article dated September 26th, 2013 (presumably the day prior to this moment in the game), referring to a rash of infected people amassing at the local hospitals In Texas. When she goes into his bedroom, a live TV report shows a reporter talking about the recent infection, when suddenly a gas line blows up behind her, cutting the feed. Sarah sees the explosion outside and, scared, heads downstairs and notices several police cars responding to the explosion. Sarah picks up Joel's cell phone from the counter and sees that he has multiple missed calls and text messages from Tommy. There is also a note on the fridge saying he has gone out late and to order food for herself. She walks into another room of the house where Joel suddenly bursts in, distraught and covered in blood, saying something bad is happening. As he picks up his revolver, their neighbor Jimmy Cooper breaks through the glass door and tries to attack them. Joel warns Jimmy to back away several times, however he still charges at him. Joel is then forced to shoot and kill him.
Tommy arrives as they run out of the house, and they begin to drive away from town, commenting how people in the city have "lost their minds" because of some type of infection, and that the whole country seems to be going through the same thing. They find the road they were planning on leaving the town by to be completely jammed, more police cars are at the roadblocks on the bridge and a helicopter is flying above the area. After sitting for a few seconds, a man from the car in front of them gets out and begins to complain about the jam, when an infected emerges from the bushes on the side of the road and attacks the man, mauling him. They turn back and drive away, attempting to go directly through the town. While navigating their way through, they get T-boned by a truck. As they crawl out of the wreckage they discover that Sarah's leg was injured in the accident, so Joel is forced to carry her while Tommy protects them with Joel's revolver. They run through the streets, now in complete chaos, witnessing many car accidents and explosions while civilians are still running everywhere, panicking. The trio cut through a bar, where Tommy stays back to hold off the infected and says to meet him at the highway.
As Joel continues to run, he is followed by Infected. They almost catch up when, a soldier shoots and kills the infected, saving them. He is then ordered to kill them both, most likely to prevent any risk of infection, despite Joel's pleas. He reluctantly opens fire as Joel jumps for cover, dropping Sarah in the confusion. The soldier walks up to Joel, and is about to execute him when Tommy appears, and shoots the soldier in the head. Joel and Tommy then realize that Sarah has been mortally wounded in the abdomen. Joel tries to put pressure on the wound in a last ditch attempt to save his daughter. This doesn't work, and after a few seconds, Sarah succumbs to her wound and dies in her father's arms.
The chapter ends with the game's title and opening credits and various news reports about the infection spreading throughout the United States and ultimately the whole world. It briefly outlines how the military began to place people in Quarantine Zones under martial law. A militia group known as the Fireflies was set up to fight against them, with limited success. It ends with their leader, Marlene, stating that everyone should "look for the light" and "believe in the Fireflies!".
- This is the only time in the entire game that you can control Sarah.
- There are family photos on the wall by Sarah's bed. One of them is the photo of Joel and Sarah which is featured in later chapters.
- Two copies of The Turning can be seen in Sarah's bookshelf. The Turning is an arcade game also seen during "Bill's Town" and Left Behind.
- The scene in the painting over Joel's bed will be familiar to players who are re-visiting this chapter in New Game+.
- Indeed, many items and pictures in the house foreshadow scenes or conversations, namely a toy giraffe, a Dawn of the Wolf poster, an acoustic guitar and the picture of a deer. These are clearly present for the benefit of players on their second playthrough.
- If one looks carefully in the living room of Sarah's house, there is a PlayStation 3 console under the television.
- The calendar in the kitchen is wrong. It says September 1, 2013 was a Monday, but it was actually a Sunday.
- Police cars that respond to the situation have no driver in them. Ambulances have black windows, preventing the player from seeing if the driver is inside. Police cars at roadblocks are also empty.
- During the sequence where the player controls Joel, a Wilhelm scream can be heard when a burning car hits another, just before Joel and Tommy enter the alley.
- Depending on where Joel is facing, it is sometimes not possible for Sarah to see anyone on fire when she says "Those people are on fire".
- When the player gets attacked by the infected after going into the alley you can fail if you don't mash square. Yet the time it takes one to fail is greater than the time it takes Tommy to come in and kill the Infected when you succeed.
- The ending scene shares many similarities with the chapter "The Firefly Lab", that takes place twenty years later. They both:
- Have Joel carry a loved one away from danger.
- Have Joel confronted by a gun wielding soldier.
- Both result in someone being killed, except Joel is the one to kill Marlene, much like how the soldier would have killed him.
- After Tommy kills the soldier, the barrel of the revolver appears to be longer.
- Sarah is seen wearing pajamas and being barefoot, and she completes the entirety of the prologue barefoot. Yet despite the fact that she even steps in broken glass once the player controls Joel, her feet are completely clean and uncut.