When the first The Last of Us trailers came out two years ago, Creative Director Neil Druckmann was quick to say TLoU wasn’t a zombie game.
“If it were about the monsters, we would have not showed them. The story’s not about them, so [we thought] let’s get it out of the way.”
Druckmann’s statement is true, but misleading. The Last of Us is a story intimately concerned with monsters – how they’re made, why they prey on others, how they’ve vanquished. It just isn’t concerned with the ones made by infection.
During their live E3 interview, Naughty Dog’s developers cited the works of Cormac McCarthy as a major influence. No Country for Old Men’s bleak neo-Western aesthetic is clear in many areas of TLoU, and the plot – the somewhat aimless journey of an adult-child duo across a blasted, post-apocalyptic environment in search of a nebulous goal – certainly evokes McCarthy’s The Road. I was personally tempted to parallel the plot and themes with those of the film Children of Men (2006), another story about hope and hopelessness in the twilight of a dying society.