Some people believe that success is a series of failures and if this documentary about The Last of Us is to be believed, that phrase also applies to video game development.
Getting a glimpse of the process of developing a video game has always been fascinating. Not because you get to see people creating something new, but because you’re exposed to all the problems and difficulties that come up along the way. Some people believe that success is a series of failures and if this documentary about The Last of Us is to be believed, that phrase also applies to video game development.
Often times we play, watch, evaluate and criticize the final product, but rarely do we see a film that documents the process of development in an honest and comprehensive manner. When we do and when the people involved are willing to show everything that happens, the result is heartwarming and relatable. Regardless of what you might have heard on the internet, video games are made by people and the problems, flaws and issues that we see in a game are usually a reflection of their creators. But the same could be said about the game’s strengths.
Grounded takes us on a journey from the creation of The Last of Us (at the time, a new intellectual property from a developer that was notorious for a 3D platformers and bombastic action games) to the game’s release. In the middle, we hear from the horse’s mouth (that includes its director, voice actors, music composer, designers and artists) and how their ideas contributed to the realization of a new world, deep characters, unique enemies, a strong female protagonist and more.
What I enjoyed the most about watching this documentary I seeing how similar are certain modern games are to film. Although both media have their unique characteristics, the powerful performances, camera work, filming techniques and even the editing process are remarkably similar. But at times it goes into too much detail about certain aspect which makes this documentary feel like a long promotional video instead of a film that shows the process of the game’s development.
Something important that I forgot to mention is that this documentary is filled with spoilers, so if you haven’t played the game yet, just keep this video in your YouTube watchlist for now. There are references to specific events from the game, characters that appear a few hours in and other things you might not know about.
Grounded clearly shows that while games are made of different parts, the end result (the finished product) is much more than that. You can say that The Last of Us has music, gameplay and voice acting, but the game you play is more than the sum of its parts.