“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 to THR. “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?”
At the surface, it might seem as though Druckmann is quite dismissive towards the legacy of video games and the stories that were told before his 2013 Playstation exclusive, however, he openly recounted how hard it was to get “The Last of Us” off the ground. In 2004, Druckmann was assigned to pitch a zombie story for a computer class at Carnegie Mellon to George Romero himself. Taking inspiration from the Playstation 2 game, “Ico,” as well as Frank Miller’s “Sin City,” Druckmann roughly sketched a pitch centering a surrogate father and daughter relationship. “And [Romero] didn’t like it,” Druckmann recalled. “He picked something else.”
After being hired by Naughty Dog, he worked his way up as co-lead designer and co-writer to their action/adventure pastiche, 2009’s “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.” The game was a massive critical/financial success (which ultimately led to the troubled production of Sony Pictures’ adaptation of the game series, even though the studio says it’s a hit), and Druckmann found himself in the lucky position to be able to freely pick his next creative project for the company. He returned to his scrapped zombie concept, now fleshed out in the form of a graphic novel draft, with fresh eyes.