If you’ve ever played one of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted games, you know that protagonist Nathan Drake routinely faces off against dozens of gun-wielding baddies who want nothing more than to pepper him with bullets. Firefights see the screen turning progressively more red as Drake is hit and eventually dies, but according to some of the series’ developers, he wasn’t getting hit with those bullets at all.
Naughty Dog animator Jonathan Cooper revealed on Twitter that the user interface grows red to symbolize Nathan Drake’s luck running out — rather than being hit by the bullets, he’s nearly getting his by them, and his death occurs when a fatal bullet finally hits its target. Cooper jokingly referred to it as “ludonarrative consonance,” poking fun at a term that has been thrown around regarding the disconnect between on-screen actions and a game’s story.
Amy Hennig, who served as creative director on the first three games, confirmed that this was the team’s intention, as well, adding that it was “aligned with the spirit and tone of the films” to which Uncharted paid homage.
Hennig was primarily referring to the Indiana Jones films, which saw Harrison Ford’s character survive certain death time and time again, often while defeating waves of enemies. Perhaps the most notable and infamous instance of his near-invincibility was in the polarizing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where Jones climbs inside a refrigerator to avoid being killed by a nuclear bomb.
The decision to make bullets miss Nathan Drake is contrasted by Naughty Dog’s approach in The Last of Us, where Joel has to bandage and heal himself after being shot. Inspired by survival stories like The Road, this is a tonally and thematically appropriate choice, and fits with the post-apocalyptic setting.
Killing other living beings hits Joel — and especially Ellie — hard in The Last of Us, while Nathan Drake doesn’t really seem to care. Perhaps it’s because his rivals seem to have an endless army of minions to send his way. but we wouldn’t want to watch Drake in a therapy session to discuss his actions.
If you have a PlayStation 4, you can play the original three Uncharted games as well as Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy right now. The prequel Uncharted: Golden Abyss is available as a Vita exclusive.