The Last of Us – New Details Revealed

Ever since The Last of Us’ reveal during Spike’s Video Game Awards show occurred, the industry has been intrigued by the direction Naughty Dog’s PlayStation 3 exclusive is aiming to deliver. With the studio stating they effectively want to change the gaming industry via its upcoming title, the hype for The Last of Us has already gone arguably level with that achieved from past PlayStation 3 blockbusters. While we await a an inevitable detail blowout for the exclusive on Sony’s platform, new intriguing details has been uncovered.

Firstly, the storytelling aspect of The Last of Us has been talked about by fans ever since its initial reveal; what will Naughty Dog manage to deliver with the pedigree they’ve proved several times (see: Uncharted series)? What direction will the studio go through in order to change the industry, as they are boldly aiming to do? Well, iWaggle3D’s interview with The Last of Us’ game director Bruce Starley saw the following information being unveiled via NeoGAF:

During my interview Bruce Starley offered an interesting example about what they are going after in terms of storytelling. He made a reference to the U2 chapters set in Tibet, noting how your early interaction with the villagers and the gameplay sections with Tanzin in the ica cave created a subconscious attachment to both so that when you get back to the village and experience what happens then (not spoiling for those who haven’t played U2 yet) you as a player feel more emotionally involved with the action. With The Last Of Us they are basically trying to extend that design philosophy to encompass the whole game from the beginning to the end.

Also interesting is how they are approaching music. They (Bruce and Neil) said music isn’t there to simply double up what you are already doing, to enphasize the emotions u are already getting. What can the music add that’s not already there? Just because there is a scary moment doesn’t mean the music need to be scary. Same with emotional moments/emotional music. More interesting to them is having the music add depth to the whole situation, make you think of another part of the story or of another charater that might not even be there.

Additionally, Naughty Dog co-founder Evan Wells discussed several aspects of The Last of Us, one of which was expanding on the storytelling segment of the exclusive which Bruce explained above. Wells explained during an interview with JVN:

We’re always looking for something fresh that keeps studios interested. All of our games from Crash Bandicoot have been evolving in a particular direction; you can see this trend that we’re trying to push the industry, as well as our selves in which is to embrace the character-driven narrative to really enhance the emotional attachment that you get to your game experience. So many companies out there are doing these really amazing games that are really capturing the visceral nature of the big bombastic over-the-top set pieces. In Uncharted, of course we had those as well, but we were also trying to infuse it with a personal touch and some heart and some soul. So, for us, The Last of Us is a natural progression from there.

Furthermore, Wells explained what they’re trying to achieve with a post-apocalyptic nature that is portrayed in The Last of Us; whilst some games showcase the theme in a darker tone, Naughty Dog are delivering the contrary:

I think in our approach and Naughty Dog’s heritage we want our environments to be beautiful and lush. In our thoughts, if the world were to go post-apocalyptic that the planet would reclaim everything that man has done to it. You see a lot of the games that took post-apocalyptic very grey and brown and just destroyed, but actually there can be a lot of beauty in this game and I think that’s gonna really make it stand out.

Finally, Wells referred to a specific segment (see below) of The Last of Us’ debut trailer which showcases protagonists Joel and Ellie running out of the building into a world which the co-president believes mirrors his words in the above quote:

What we tried to show is that they burst of the door; you can see the lushness and you can see that what years of neglect if humans aren’t there to keep it up that nature (can do); a very short order, actually, there’s lots of examples in our photo reference that we were digging up of old buildings and cities that are just left to rot and it’s got a very creepy but beautiful nature to it.

It’ll definitely be intriguing as to what Naughty Dog will ultimately achieve in terms of storytelling in The Last of Us; past titles, notably Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, has proved that a cinematic experience is certainly a big hit, but how exactly it’ll be delivered within their PlayStation 3 exclusive will be known upon its possible late 2012/early 2013 launch.

Zak