The phrase “nothing new under the sun” is a part of our world for a reason. Mainly because no matter how hard we try, we can almost always find a connection or a reference or a ripoff or a slight twist on a story that’s already been done before. It’s not necessarily an insult, but it does showcase how we’ve told so many stories over the years that it’s hard to do something fresh and unique. So even with a game like The Last Of Us, which is hailed as one of the best games of the last few generations, it’s not a unique concept or idea. Many of the themes have been played out before.
However, when it came to development, there was one thing that developer Naughty Dog strove to do. They knew that the core of their gameplay would be putting humans up against monsters. But they didn’t want it to feel like a certain franchise from Capcom. Neil Druckmann spoke about this in an interview:
“We wanted to do the opposite of Resident Evil — which I love, but it’s so over-the-top and you’re fighting giant spiders and it’s all about enemy variety,” Druckmann explained. “What if it’s about intimate relationships — an exploration of the unconditional love a parent feels for their child and the beautiful things that could come out of that and the really horrible things that could come out of that?”
Ironically, when The Last of Us first sent out copies to reviewers, they weren’t initially impressed because of the lack of enemy variety and “stakes” at times. Those people wanted more action in the game, but that was never the intention of the title. Instead, it was meant to be about Joel and Ellie and their journey from being strangers to becoming a father-daughter-style unit.
So by sticking to their guns, Druckmann and Naughty Dog made one of the most compelling stories ever told in video games, and the accolades they got for the title speak for themselves.
Admittedly, they did stumble in the eyes of gamers via the second story in the universe, which is divisive to this day, but that often happens when you try to capture lightning in a bottle twice. That being said, the original game is still beloved and even had a successful remake relaunch last year. Not to mention, the game is getting an HBO live-action adaptation that releases on the 15th.
The lesson here is that sometimes you need to do something atypical to make an impact. It may not be original, but it can be good.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter