Naughty Dog has talked in detail for the first time about the plot of forthcoming PlayStation 3 survival adventure The Last of Us.
As seen in a clip on GameInformer, game director Bruce Straley and creative director Neil Druckmann explained that the game takes place 20 years after a virus outbreak decimates the world's population.
Survivors huddle together in a number of military-run safe zones, where times are hard and life is cheap. Inhabitants are executed for the most minor infractions and anyone who screens positive for the virus is immediately euthanised.
Basic supplies are scarce and humanity is slowly falling apart, not helped by regular incursions from the infected.
Lead character Joel, who's a contraband merchant in his 40s, lives in the last remaining stronghold. Like everyone else, his sense of morality is rapidly degrading and he's doing anything he can to survive.
He takes on a job at the behest of a friend to smuggle 17-year-old Ellie out of the city, for reasons as yet undisclosed.
She's lived in a military orphanage in the safe zone for her entire life, but gets in some kind of trouble and needs to leave.
The job goes wrong and they're caught outside the walls by soldiers. Things spiral from there and the pair embark on a journey to find an old friend of Joel's who lives beyond the quarantine zone.
However, "being a Naughty Dog story," Druckmann said, "things aren't always what they seem."
Druckmann added that the studio intends on telling a standalone story and won't deliberately leave threads hanging for a possible sequel.
"We can say now we don't want to end on a cliffhanger. We don't like when games do that. It has to be all encompassing," he added. "If it does well and people want more then we'll discuss it."
Check out the whole clip for more on the game's visual design and how post-apocalyptic urban decay will impact gameplay and level design.