Original The Last of Us co-director Bruce Straley revealed that the PlayStation 4 title “was not real enough” after living through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to the LA Times, Straley admitted that, over time, he’d come to realize that The Last of Us game could have been much more realistic in tone. “We weren’t real enough about the level of anxiety and tension that all of the characters would have had in that world.”
“If you go back to those early days of the [COVID-19] pandemic — we’re not even talking about infected breaking through your front window and chewing your face off; this is just the news that there’s the possibility that you could get horribly ill, possibly die from this virus,” he explained.
“There’s so much trauma from living through that, that I think the world of ‘The Last of Us’ would have had way more broken characters,” Straley proposes. “I think people hold it together pretty well for the world that we put them in, compared to what I know about living through a pandemic.”
Returning to earlier in the article, original The Last of Us writer and co-director Neil Druckmann — who has both directing and writing credits as co-creator of the HBO series — praised the dark tone of the game and the new show. “You almost never showed a kid dying in a video game. That was such a taboo thing. … One thing ‘Grand Theft Auto’ doesn’t have are kids in that world.”
“But if we’re going to tell a story about the love a parent has for their child, we have to deal with the worst fear a parent has, which is any sort of harm coming to their child, and realize that through that opening sequence,” Druckmann justified. “Our approach was, as much as we can, let’s treat it as grounded as possible and as realistic as possible.”
Druckmann also felt the story was personal to him, contrasting it to his life as an Israeli immigrant, and sacrifices parents make for their children. “While making the game, my daughter was born, and that added another layer of complexity to how I approached those characters.”
Druckmann’s newfound parental instincts undoubtedly helped foster his protective instincts, which prompted the The Last of Us director to demand his Twitter followers to “Wear your damn mask!” in the early days of the pandemic — even while debate raged over how effective masks were at preventing spread and infection of the COVID-19 virus.
Druckmann was far from the only one repeating the various advise given during the COVID-19 lockdowns. While debate over their effectiveness raged at the time, only now are claims of the harms it caused being taken on board.
While China was welding apartment doors shut (and such measures hindering the rescue of those in a fatal fire), even non-Communist countries weren’t free of sin. Australia, for example, had the army drag people into quarantine camps, cops strangled people into wearing masks, and several instances in which the rights of Australians were transgressed.
The US saw the New York nursing home scandal of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and worldwide we’ve seen children struggling to develop speech, a mental health crisis, jobs being lost — all while celebrities toted wearing masks (including Alec Baldwin, Sophie Turner, and Jason Isaac, to name a few) despite not wearing them themselves.
Perhaps Bruce Straley is right in his assertion that The Last of Us “was not real enough” after living through the COVID-19 pandemic.