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The Last Of Us Deploys House Of The Dragon-Like Lighting (& Why It's Actually Perfect)

Watch enough prestige TV, and you'll bump into a huge, expensive scene that, for some reason, is so dark you can barely make out what happens. The good people of Westeros, in particular, are somewhat notorious for spending much of their time in nigh-impenetrable darkness. The Battle of Winterfell in "Game of Thrones" drew fan outrage for looking like its lighting budget consisted of a single BIC lighter. More recently, prequel series "House of the Dragon" had fans up in arms for similar reasons, to the point that showrunner Ryan Condal personally addressed complaints over the show's dark lightning

As "The Last of Us" is quick to prove, the trend for dark lighting might be a thing HBO just likes to do with expensive genre shows, since the post-apocalyptic drama also features its share of super dark scenes ... in both senses of the term. However, this particular show gets away with its lighting choices without fan criticism, because the "House of the Dragon"-style lighting "The Last of Us" uses turns out to be pretty much perfect. 

Darkness and Cordyceps zombies are a match made in heaven

There are two simple reasons why "The Last of Us" succeeds in its use of tactical darkness while "Game of Thrones" and "House of the Dragon" arguably fail. First, the approach is faithful to the source material. The game is extremely dark at many points, forcing the player to rely on the characters' perception — as well as their own — as a core gameplay mechanic. 

The second point is somewhat related to the first one. Sound is extremely important in "The Last of Us," and ambient noise and the sounds of Clickers and other Infected are instrumental to the overall experience. At the end of the day, "The Last of Us" is about stealth and survival, which supports darker lighting choices much better than a fantasy drama with big, bombastic moments. While the show has presumably only started to deploy its hopefully vast array of lighting tricks, the fact that it's willing to embrace the darkness is a good sign.