Even the most casual of video game fan knows just how heavily relied upon zombies have become over the past few years. With the chances for interesting new mechanics or character designs dwindling by the month, there is one game that has brought new hope to fans of corrupted human beings: The Last of Us.

While the game still remains shrouded heavily in mystery, the two protagonists of The Last of Us are gracing the cover of the March issue of Game Informer. The result may be just a single image from within the game’s world, but it once again shows that this game may not be what people expect.

[Update: Be sure to check out the new screenshots and details here!]

It’s difficult to get buzz going for a post-apocalyptic/zombie game these days, unless you happen to be the studio behind the blockbuster trilogy Uncharted. Having the game helmed by Naughty Dog may already have some predicting it to be the next big thing – or redefine gaming altogether, as they themselves hope. Accomplishing that will still be a challenge, but the team seems ready to give it a shot.

For starters, the standard limping or decaying zombies that are testing everyone’s patience have been replaced by roving bands of fungal-infected human lunatics. Granted, the differences between the two were hard to spot in The Last of Us announcement trailer. But the latest image created for the GI cover does emphasize that ‘the last’ humans won’t just refer to Joel and Ellie, but the other people left standing. And going by the scene depicted, not everyone can be trusted:

The Last of Us Joel Ellie Preview Cover

Naughty Dog had previously explained that human survivors would dangerous to the main duo, but actually seeing a room full of everyday people ready to kill one another certainly says a lot about the tone of this project. The image itself looks to be a refined version of the previous concept artwork emphasizing stealth and strategy, so clearly the developers are sure of the ideas they’re intent on exploring.

Whether or not The Last of Us can truly become as rich and cinematic a storytelling experience as Uncharted remains to be seen, since very few post-apocalyptic films dealing with these themes have been both critically acclaimed and financially successful. At least, not on the level of Nathan Drake’s predecessors Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. At this point Naughty Dog has earned the benefit of the doubt, and if the tension and maturity of this cover image speaks to the overall feel of the game, we’re in. Provided, that is, the gameplay lives up to it.

Are there any particular concerns you have about the serious tone Naughty Dog seems to be taking? Have you had enough post-apocalyptic entertainment to last a lifetime, or is there room for better drama in the genre?

The Last of Us sneaks onto the PlayStation 3 in late 2012 or early 2013.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: GameInformer

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