Staring into space

As promised last night, Game Informer magazine’s released the first screenshots of Naughty Dog’s mysterious upcoming survival horror project, The Last of Us.

The screenshots show protagonists Joel and Ellie wandering through an apocalyptic Pittsburgh. It looks marginally better than the current-day city (sorry, readers).

Game Informer’s got some juicy new gameplay tidbits to accompany the screenshots too. First up, weapons break so you’ll need to be constantly scavenging for new items to keep you armed. As evidenced in the screenshots though, the world you explore will not be bleak and grey like most other horror titles. Naughty Dog’s using natural growth to “spice up [the game’s] colour palette”. Did someone say Enslaved?

Furthermore, Naughty Dog’s promising that the game won’t be one long escort quest. While you’ll only play as Joel, the developer’s putting a lot of effort into ensuring that Ellie’s AI is not frustrating.

The magazine reports:

The developers stress that The Last of Us is not one long escort mission. Although you won't control Ellie in the game, her AI is one of the team's primary areas of focus. In our demo she always managed to keep up, yet stay out of the way. She didn't seem to need any babysitting at all.

There’s a real clash of themes in these screenshots that gives the game an interesting look. The rundown urban setting contrasts heavily against the tropical growth. And underlying that, there’s the very real threat that this is a frightening, post-apocalyptic world.

If you only follow one PlayStation 3 game this year, make sure it’s this one.