Thanks to a recent interview with Naughty Dog Creative Director Neil Druckmann and Game Director Bruce Straley, more details surrounding the story of The Last of Us have made their way to the public.
The setting is that of a post-apocalyptic United States twenty years after a catastrophic event that put the world in its current state took place. A zombie-like fungal plague has infected much of the human population, and survivors have been herded into military-controlled quarantine zones that are ruled by martial law.
Living within one of these zones is Joel, the game’s protagonist, who is in his late 40s and has experienced the downfall of human society straight from the get-go. Years of seeing friends and loved ones die in this brutal new world has hardened Joel and left him without many of the moral guidelines he once clung to in normal society.
Highly-skilled in the black market, Joel takes on a contract via an unknown third party to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie out of the quarantine zone she has lived in since birth. Unfortunately, the plan goes awry and leaves the two characters alone in the highly dangerous and decaying wasteland filled with infected and on the run from the military.
Despite Joel’s decayed morals telling him to leave the girl behind, a promise to a dear friend leaves him bound to keep Ellie safe. What ensues is a desperate search to find a safe haven away from the reach of the oppressive military and ravenous fungal ghouls.
It all adds up to The Last of Us having the potential to be a deeper, more grounded tale in the post-apocalyptic genre. One where a higher influence could be placed upon themes of morality vs. survival, the ease of nature to overcome humanity’s greatest achievements, and more than the setting and its ferocious inhabitants.
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