Publisher(S): Mike Richardson.
Editor(S): Ian Tucker.
Assistant Editor(s): Bret Israel.
Designer(s): Stephen Reichert
Digital Art Technician(s): Chris Horn.
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Books.
FORMAT: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition.
RELEASE DATE: June 16th, 2020.
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★★.
Have you ever loved something so much that you’d do anything to get more of it? I have been a gamer all my life and it is upon getting my hands on the PlayStation 3 that I fell head over heels in love for the Uncharted video game franchise. It is upon playing their first game in that generation of consoles, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, that the video game developer Naughty Dog became my all-time favourite team as every game they released going forward had a quintessential focus on story-telling with innovation at heart in terms of gameplay mechanics, score immersion, and visual realism that pushed the limits of the console to unimaginable milestones. In 2013, when they released their brand-new IP, The Last of Us, they have successfully proven to the world that they were at the top of their game and will always aim to deliver authentic, original, and compelling stories for fans around the world. On June 19th, 2020, they’ve come out with what was my most anticipated game of the year, The Last of Us Part II, and my excitement for it couldn’t have been any higher as I went on to complete the game clocking in almost 25 hours of gameplay for this critically-acclaimed single-player game and its controversial story.
What is The Art of the Last of Us Part II about? It is a collector’s item created in collaboration between Dark Horse Books and the developers at Naughty Dog that presents fans the behind-the-scenes of their artistic conception of the video game The Last of Us Part II, the sequel to The Last of Us, an action-adventure story set in a post-apocalyptic United States of America where a mutated strain of a fungus grows exponentially throughout the world and humanity’s last ray of hope lies in the hands of Joel (a smuggler) and Ellie (a teenage girl with a gift or a burden). With a foreword by the art director Erick Pangilinan and a prologue by the game director Neil Druckmann, this deluxe edition hardcover offers an extensive look at various concept art for characters, creatures, and settings as it recounts the whole story of the video game from start to finish. It also sparingly chronicles the development of the game with some never-before-seen details on omitted ideas while also offering insight on the importance of detail to better capture the desired realism within the game.
“Instead of trying to find an ‘interesting story’, we needed to unearth a strong emotional core.”
– Neil Druckmann | Director of The Last of Us Part II
This artbook is exquisite in itself. The glossy paper allows the pictures to be appreciated in all of its rendered greatness, the oversized hardcover format offers a perfect size to display multiple shots without overcrowding each page, and the spine treatment is meticulously produced to avoid issues over the long-term for collectors. The quality of each concept art is also stunning as the developers invited countless artists from around the world to help bring their ideas to life. From photorealistic to digital artwork, it is impressive to discover how the game was conceived. While playing the video game is an experience in itself, this artbook sends chills down your spine as you relive certain unforgettable scenes, whether it’s set in the snowy Wyoming regions or the destroyed Seattle territory. To be able to see and understand how art was turned into a 3D video game environment within this artbook is simply magical.
The detail in the concept art is also beautifully terrifying. The colours add a tone to each shot and further captures the post-apocalyptic setting in which evolves the entire the story. Since the artbook is also presented in chronological story-wise order, you’re immediately in a position to understand the direction that was desired for the story. The commentary that sometimes accompanies certain pictures also unveils the importance of every single detail. From the clothing choice to the spacial environment design, it’s awe-inspiring to further understand Naughty Dogs’ desire to make every little feature matter. It is also worth noting that this artbook will only satisfy those who have finished and loved the video game, especially with the number of spoilers it contains. But if there’s something this artbook will succeed in doing is to invite you to replay the video game just to appreciate the finer details in the environment that they’ve created for fans of The Last of Us.
The Art of the Last of Us Part II is a stunning and beautifully-conceived collector’s artbook for fans of the video game.