The lights are on
Photo courtesy of Marchand and Meffre
Gaming is no stranger to post-apocalyptic worlds, but Naughty Dog wants to deliver something you’ve never seen before with The Last of Us. The game takes place in a world where a deadly fungal disease and widespread strife has wiped out most of humanity. As the years tick away, nature begins to reclaim the buildings, roads, and other man-made structures our race has erected to keep it at bay. Straying from the dull grays and browns of many games that follow a catastrophic event, Naughty Dog looks to real life ruin photography to capture the haunting beauty of a world reclaimed by the elements.
Naughty Dog has cited numerous pieces of literary and film inspiration for The Last of Us, but the most relevant to shaping the game’s physical world is arguably The World Without Us. Both the non-fiction book and documentary paint a picture of a future world where tree limbs burst through office buildings, vines ensnare the pavement, and huge structures crumble without human maintenance. While the imagery described in The World Without Us may seem fantastical, you don’t have to look further than the American Rust Belt for a glimpse into modern decay.
A style of photography focused on capturing this degradation has cropped up over the last few years. Naughty Dog has studied these impactful images of present day ruins to inspire the world of The Last Of Us. While the developer has not named any specific muse, I’ve found striking parallels between the decayed scenery of The Last of Us and The Ruins of Detroit, by photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.
Packard Motors Plant
Fort Shelby Hotel
Fisher Body 21 Plant
Ballroom, American Hotel
Classroom, St Margaret Mary SchoolNaughty Dog isn’t content with simply popping main characters Joel and Ellie and some bad guys into these interesting environments. The developer is paying careful attention to the composition of every location to elicit different emotions from the player. For example, the lush greenery and open air of an overgrown highway may evoke a sense of calm. Conversely, the underpass of the same road may have support beams crossing at rigid angles and prominently feature the color red to instill fear and claustrophobia.
During The Last of Us demo we saw when visiting Naughty Dog, we were shown an attack made on Joel and Ellie by a band of desperate hunters. The color script below distills the locations featured in this assault down to their basic colors and geometry.
Color script from The Last of Us
Now that you’ve seen how much careful planning Naughty Dog is putting into the locations in The Last of Us, it’s your turn. Try applying what you learned from the concept art to the photos of real life ruins. Would the mellow colors and rectangular shapes of Fort Shelby Hotel make a player feel comfortable or tense? Is there an opportunity for an ambush among the green trees and open road in Packard Motors Plant? Take a moment to apply the lens of Naughty Dog’s game design to these photographs and perhaps you’ll notice something different. It only takes a little bit of imagination to see just how much potential Naughty Dog has to deliver an end of days world unseen in games.
Be sure to check back and visit the hub all month long for more on The Last of Us.
Thanks to Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre for permitting use of all photographs found in this article. Visit their website by clicking here.
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
I think it is so cool the design that the game is taking, colorful zombie apocolypse? im in
My ps3 just died so i had to buy another just for this, and other games that you can only get on playstation
I really like this photography. There is an old abandoned mall in my area. It is scary as hell every time I have to go there. They property manager gets paychecks every 2 weeks and sometimes I have to search for them. Low light and early 90s signage.
I find this type of artistic style more disturbing than something from Dead Space or RE. I am excited to see this game in action.
I have been so sick of browns and tans and that color palette for quite some time. I can't wait to get my hands on this game.
This should be good
I will buy anything Naughty Dog releases after Uncharted 2! Who says video games are not works of art.
Strangely, the picture looks rather peaceful. It looks like a place I would love to explore. It has this interesting aesthetic about it.
This is such a wonderfully written, thought provoking article. This reaffirms my standing opinion that the journalism on display at GameInformer is just that: true journalism. Thank you for giving the extra attention and care. We appreciate it.
I've always loved those ruins of Detroit pics. Just how it looks like everyone all got up and left really interests me. I remember seeing one that was of a library(I think) and there were still books left on the shelves. In fact, it was seeing these pictures that made me want to play Fallout 3. It's really cool that the folks at Naughty Dog saw these and are drawing inspiration from them for their settings.
should head to chernobyl/pripyat too, entire city just deserted...
now we just need confirmation on a ps3 tLoA bundle
Hopefully i have a ps3 by the time this game comes out :C
This game is looking great!
Anyone thinking paintball?
I find myself more depressed that they got that much ruins out of Detroit. That city really is pretty *** up.
Still, it's cool they managed to get some inspiration out of it.
the photos were creepy, and just think those used to be some of the fanciest things in their day.
I live in Pittsburgh so I was psyched to explore well-known locations in this setting but, alas, I game on a 360 :( BUT, with this and the all my friends raving about Uncharted I may have to pick up a used PS3
Gamers should do well when the real apocalypse comes from all the practice playing the insane number of games in this genre. FYI, I like these types of games and wasn't saying they are stale
As much as I love, and I mean LOVE naughty dog, Enslaved did a great job of capturing a devastated future overrun by nature as well.