Survival horror might not be the genre you attach to Naughty Dog’s latest 3rd person action game. But, if you think about it, it is about the most literal definition that you can peg this game down with.
The Last of Us made waves at this years E3, closing Sony’s conference with an epic 7 minute demo (see bellow) that demonstrated once again that Naughty Dog are the top dogs in the gaming industry. Graphically, it could be Uncharted 4. Which is to say we have seen this level of sexiness from Naughty Dog already but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. The world has clearly gone through eight shades of shit and humanity has struggled to come out the other side intact. This isn’t Fallout or Borderlands, this is realistic and hauntingly close to the present time. The world Naughty Dog have created is what the world would look like if we f’ed it up royally right now. Scary stuff.
Horror films are about as diverse as any genre can be, from splatter epics like Braindead to the ultra-disturbing ‘it could be you’ films like Straw Dogs. So while it seems you will be spending a lot of time avoiding bad people and the military, there are also the ‘infected’ to worry about. People who have been killed by an epidemic fungal infection, like some sort of bastard athletes foot, are re-incarnated and now feed off the living. So far, so every game that comes out these days, but when you look at the footage that has been released so far, you see a totally different picture. You see an old guy protecting a young girl from normal people. You have mushroom zombies running around and yet your greatest threat is your fellow man. That is scarier than any zombie, and it always has been; just look at the biker invasion in Dawn of the Dead.
Weapons and ammo are going to be really scarce (as a Survival Horror should be, Res Evil series!!!) so you can’t just Nathan Drake your way out of this one. Stealth and tactics are going to be employed if you have any hope of keeping Joel alive, let alone Ellie. This is where the survival really kicks in. The Last of Us reminds me somewhat of the resourcefulness of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games books. You find your self mending and making do, or cobbling together rubbish to give yourself something to defend your self with. Don’t forget that it has been a long time since a game truly made us work for our dinner.
Added to this is an insane level of context specific game design. For example, if you do or do not notice something important, the script results are different. If you linger on something or move on, the characters respond differently. This kind of detail, plus in mind blowing detail that Naughty Dog puts into their animation makes these characters feel so real that you will probably want them to survive, not just because to die is game over, but because you will come to love them.
Yes it is early days for The Last of Us, but so far it not only looks to be another key title for Sony, but to be the game that may finally redeem the terminally gung ho survival horror genre. This is still a 3rd person action game and comparisons with the Uncharted games are inevitable, but when the odds are so heavily shifted towards your enemies you know you are in for a bit of a struggle.