Fallout 4 is just around the corner and I was talking to a friend about Last of Us when I stopped to think about how the post-apocalyptic genre is way overused nowadays.
Yeah, it seems we do have a thing for going into “simpler” times, when survival is the most important element. In the past ten years we had an absurd amount of movies (The Road, The Book of Eli, Mad Max, 28 Days Later, Oblivion, Terminator Salvation – not to delve into the zombie flood), TV shows (Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, The Last Man on Earth, Revolution, The 100), games (The Last of Us, Fallout – 3, New Vegas and 4 -, Wasteland 2, Crysis 2, Metro 2033, Rage, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Tom Clancy’s The Division, Left 4 Dead and all the zombie games – it’s a genre on its own), books and comics (I’ll not list these because it’s getting boring already). As a 26 year-old dude, most of my teenage years and early 20s were immersed in this reality, which means I do like the genre and that’s one of the main reasons I’m writing. If I randomly come across something post-apoc online, I’ll most certainly take some time to see if it brings anything new into the genre or if it’s just repeating what is already out there.
Now that it’s clear I love the setting comes the time to point out some of the main problems. When we get back to the basics – I mean survival – things become pretty intense, because it’s always life or death, but also they can become very shallow by simplifying character development down to the point where every decision is based on the “will I live longer?” question. Since most post-apocalyptic universes are based on the here-and-now it’s easy to fall on the trap of no medium or long term plans. Relationships are only relevant as they are fundamental to survival, which ends up depriving us of deeper characters and bonds while resulting in a large number of badasses.
Even larger is the number of “quests to save the world”, to restore how things were, to cure an infection/virus/plague, fix society. In Fallout 2 you leave your village looking for a G.E.C.K (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) which, of course, is not something that exists, as you discover while the game advances, Terminator has Skynet as the villain, Revolution’s world can get power back at any moment, . One of the most interesting things I got from watching The Walking Dead is to see how the group goes from having lots of hope in finding a cure to accepting this new world as something that will last. Last of Us does the reverse way, from no hope at all to an almost certainty of a cure and having this kind of transition is great for character development and character development is most definitely what makes a few of the titles listed above stand out from the rest. That or massive interactivity towards the world like the Fallout series.
I’m loosing track of what I’m saying here so, I just wish we stopped setting anything in post-apocalyptic worlds just because it’s cool.
This post started with some great potential and then I killed it, just to see how does a post-apocalyptic post looks. Now that I bashed the genre check my graduation work, a post-apoc webseries pilot mixing up most of the good titles above and a little bit of Brazilian politics.