The word “infected” has become synonymous in today’s culture with the archetype of the zombie. The media is absolutely saturated with the idea of shambling masses of dead corpses out in the world with no other purpose then to eat the flesh of those still living. The video game industry is no exception to this sudden zombie outbreak. Left 4 DeadZombiU, The Walking Dead, and even Call of Duty have all seen their fair share of this vile beast and the trend shows no signs of stopping.

When The Last of Us first appeared on the E3 scene in 2012, Naughty Dog mentioned the premise of their post-apocalyptic game would be based on the idea of people being infected. After hearing this, many gamers labeled the title as being just another zombie game. Naughty Dog however, in a newly released dev video, says otherwise.

Audio Lead Phillip Kovats states:

“We went through quite a process trying to figure out what the infected were gonna be. A very big directive from the very beginning was they’re not zombies.”

After hearing this you may have shifted your mental image to sickly people shambling around in hospital robes but the concept is much more unique then that. The infected are still very much alive, but their bodies have been taken over by a fungal infection (not that kind) which gives them a very distinct, almost tree-like look.

Kovats continues:

“We figured that the real evil in the game is the fungus, it’s not the people.”

The idea came from the BBC documentary Planet Earth where the topic of cordyceps fungus was covered.  It got creative director Neil Druckmann thinking about what might happen if the fungus hopped over to a human host. The result is a very distinct looking overgrown humanoid that uses a form of echolocation (think sonar) to find its way around. The creature makes clicking noises much like a bat that forces players to be on their toes and on the edge of their seat when encountering them.

The Last of Us Infected Concept

Creative Director Neil Druckmann:

“All of a sudden you just hear these clicks and you see everyone just get frightened, everybody ducks and everyone hush’s.”

The Last of Us aims to be  than “just another zombie game” in many respects. The idea feels original, a nice change of pace from the Uncharted series, and it seems as if the gameplay will really keep players alert throughout the story. What do you think about the concept of the infected?

The Last of Us is a PS3 exclusive and releases June 14, 2013.