Developer Naughty Dog has announced The Last of Us: American Dreams, an upcoming prequel comic series to the highly anticipated survival game.
The developer has partnered with comic book and manga publisher Dark Horse to produce American Dreams, which will explore the background of the character Ellie. Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann is on board as writer, who told IGN some info regarding the decision to create this prequel.
Druckmann explains that the team wanted to keep the comic official and canonical to provide the best quality possible.
“At first I was very reluctant to do anything like this, just because we’re still developing the game. There’s a lot to be done in the game and it requires so much energy that I didn’t want to be distracted by something else. At the same time, I didn’t want to just hand off these characters and find a writer, find an artist and do this thing and just say it’s not canon. If we were going to do this, we wanted to do it right.”
What can expect to see Ellie go through in the comic?
“[Ellie] has grown up in a postpandemic world, shuttled between military orphanages in one of the last remaining quarantine zones and resigned to the fact that when she’s old enough, she’ll be channeled into the army or left to fend for herself-until she meets an older girl determined to find a third way out,”
The journey’s events will lead up to Ellie meeting her partner in the game, Joel. The “older girl” is Druckmann refers to is named Riley.
While this is a prequel and therefore an extension of the game’s story, Druckmann says that the comic also works as a standalone story.
“I wanted to see a story that can stand on its own, so if you’ve never played the game you’d still be able to read this comic and get an intriguing story with these characters,” he said. “At the same time, if you do read this comic book and you play the game, you should get greater depth, a greater understanding of these characters and the world and what’s going on with them. The other cool thing is that working on the comic book has helped me develop more of Ellie’s backstory. Because we haven’t finished the game yet, we’ve been able to weave some of those threads into the story of the game. So there are certain parts as you play the game, if you’ve read the comic book, you’ll understand what Ellie’s referring to, or have a deeper understanding of what made her make that decision.”
The Last of Us: American Dreams is currently scheduled for release in Spring 2013. The game is set for release for Q1/Q2 on PS3 exclusively next year, so its likely the comic will release just before the game does.
Dark Horse is also release The Last of Us art book launching “in conjunction with the release of the game”. It will be a deluxe hardcover “exploring the characters, the infected humans, and the intricately realized world of the game.”
Being possibly the most exciting game releasing next year (a bold statement and worthy honour considering the likes of Bioshock: Infinite, GTA V and Dead Space 3), I’m eager to see American Dreams to satisfy my hunger during the wait for the game. The premise of a comic book prequel worked great for Left 4 Dead, so I’m all for this idea. I wonder if we’ll see a similar thing happen for Joel’s backstory, too.