Only a few days after Naughty Dog asked fans whether or not they could survive for 12 weeks in the The Last of Us post-apocalyptic world, the developer is back with a live-action trailer for the title – one that confronts potential players with even more challenging life or death questions. In the multiplayer reveal trailer, Sony showcased on-the-fly crafting mechanics, brutal up-close-and-personal kills, and online modes that will leave players outnumbered and scrambling to survive.
However, today’s live-action trailer draws the focus away from the skills and weaponry that might give gamers a survival edge, and instead, looks at the difficult personal choices that characters (and subsequently the player) will face in The Last of Us story campaign.
Starting with the line, “Decisions used to be easy,” voice actress Ashley Johnson, who plays sidekick Ellie in the game, proceeds to detail the increasingly dire questions that survivors in The Last of Us face everyday – all while watching a live-action stand-in for the player character, Joel (voiced by Troy Baker) become more ragged and world-worn.
As the world around Joel rots and ages, Ellie speaks directly to the player, asking questions like:
- “Could you tell friend from foe?”
- “Could you kill?”
- “Could you do worse?”
- “If a loved one was infected, could you do the right thing?”
- “Could you put your life on the line for me, the way that I would for you?”
Each of the questions is accompanied by in-game shots that showcase moments where the protagonist pair are tasked with making similar decisions – to ensure their own survival. Anyone who has been following the game from its initial announcement knows that choice plays a major role in the events of The Last of Us, as the characters are unexpectedly confronted with any number of horrific decisions throughout their journey.
Of course, the game is less concerned with choices that affect the story long term (a la Mass Effect) and, instead, puts a spotlight on the emotional turmoil that Joel and Ellie face – when they’re forced to kill another (potentially dangerous or harmless) survivor as well as watch when someone they know is overtaken by the evolved cordyceps fungus. As in prior Naughty Dog titles, The Last of Us tells a pretty linear storyline for the sake of an emotional and impactful narrative experience but that doesn’t mean that players aren’t without their own choices either – as their are a variety of options available to the player in enemy encounters (which also include avoiding a face-to-face encounter altogether).
As a result, while it might seem weird to ask potential players about how they could handle various post-apocalyptic scenarios in a game that doesn’t allow for too many longterm player story choices, it speaks to the primary goal of the game experience. In the Uncharted series, players mow-down wave after wave of bad guys without ever stopping to think about the consequences or significance of their actions. Alternatively, The Last of Us seeks to make players think about how the main characters have been changed by the events, and as a result, should we ever find ourselves in a similar scenario, whether we’d even recognize the person that we might need to become in order to survive.
The Last of Us is a PS3 exclusive and releases June 14, 2013.
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