Developer Naughty Dog
Release Date TBC
The Last of Us focuses on two characters Joel and Ellie. Both roles have differences that stretch far beyond the obvious age and gender. Joel is a forty year old man and survivor from the pre pandemic era. Ellie on the other hand has only ever known this post pandemic world as she was born after the event. This leads to some interesting dynamics between both characters within the game, these have become even more apparent after spending an afternoon with Naughty dog and the two lead voice actors.
The voice actor who landed the role of Joel is one that might be familiar to many. Troy Baker has appeared in lots of games already two of the most recent big video game he popped up in include Catherine where he played the part of Vincent Brooks and the iconic Two Face in Batman Arkham City.
Ashley Johnson (Ellie) is better known from her TV and film roles appearing in movies like The Avengers, Fast Food Nation and What Women Want. She has also appeared on the small screen in the TV series The Killing and has voiced some characters for animations like Ben 10 and King of the Hill.
One thing Naughty dog are eager to get across to us is that they are trying to show a cross section of mankind by touching on the best and worst of humanity. They will focus on how people break off into factions and how the player will get to interact with those factions and see first hand how they deal with various scenarios, each in their own way. You will see people resort to really dark means of survival while others form new “families” and try to rebuild or at least salvage some of the society they once knew.
Talking about the influences that other mediums such as movies and comics have had on the game Naughty Dog are quick to point to the real heavy hitting character driven post-apocalyptic stories like those told in The Walking Dead comic books, Cormac McCarty’s book The Road and Danny Boyles movie 28 days later. The Last of Us hopes to take its influence from those and to then channel that into a powerful experience for the player. One that is focused heavily on the characters and their story. It will be a lot darker than Uncharted was but will still have a lot of warmth and even some laughs, although some of the time you are laughing for not quite the right reason.
Ultimately Naughty Dog want to evoke certain emotions within the player when playing the game. The way they plan to do that is to give the characters real originality and depth. Both actors are capable of delivering intense emotional performances but it is the chemistry that has built up between the two actors during the recording that has really spilled over into the game making it something very special.
Most games record the voice work separately with a single actor in a booth on their own, but this wasn’t enough for Naughty Dog. By doing this you miss certain sounds or slight peaks in the vocals that only happen in real life when doing real motions and in real interactions with other people. This attention to detail is why Naughty Dog use full performance capture so the actors are recorded in full motion at the same time they record their lines so everything fits naturally. They go to such lengths to create a realistic natural and organic experience, they even leave in the natural errors that occur. Mistakes happen in real life, a normal conversation is rarely pitch perfect.
Everything we hear and see in relation to The Last of Us impresses us. It is clear Naughty dog have something very special on their hands, it is also clear to see the huge amount of work that is being put in to the game from the team at Naughty Dog but also from the voice actors. While meeting with Naughty Dog we also got to talk to the two lead actors about the experience of working on the game.