After waiting over a year for its release, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy has finally arrived. What’s funny about this expansion story is the fact it originally started off as a smaller project, reminiscent of The Last of Us: Left Behind, to which merely served to be a smaller narrative that added to the main game. Naughty Dog, however, quickly felt that this extra content was too large to simply be released as Downloadable Content, and instead got delayed as the company developed it further for a physical release.
I wished I’d known this sooner as I wouldn’t have bothered spending money on the Season Pass for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and simply waited to buy a physical copy. All well I suppose. At least I was able to play it as soon as it was released by simply waiting till Midnight and clicking play from my PS4 home-screen.
But how does this fair up to previous instalments, and does it bring the franchise to a proper close (despite A Thief’s End already accomplishing this) without being an unnecessary tag-on? I would argue that The Lost Legacy was a pleasant surprise. Despite my worries about the absent of Nathan Drake, the franchise’s lead-character, the game turned out to be better than expected.
Uncharted (for me personally) was always about Nathan and his struggle between his desire to pursue dangerous adventures, whilst also discovering what truly matters to him. So to have a game without him made me panic because I felt that the narrative might not feel the same, perhaps feel empty, thus being far too different from what’s come before. Everything from the stories told, the tone, and the simple adventurous style (accompanied with the neatly placed humour) was all down to Nathan’s character, and Nolan North‘s performance, and naturally became the fundamental formula for the series.
Moving away from that was definitely risky but it ultimately paid off, and this was down to the clever decision to bring back Chloe Frazer. I was actually quite upset at her absent in A Thief’s End, particularly because of how important she was to the narrative of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, before being abruptly being pushed to one side part way through the latter game. So to see her return in style within The Lost Legacy to gain a much needed reappearance, and conclusion, was much appreciated, so thank you Naughty Dog.
It was also a daring task to try something new, especially in pushing the boundaries of having lead female characters. But there was little to fear with Chloe because we’d already got a great understanding of her character in previous instalments, and so knew that she could handle herself, not to mention was a perfect contrast to Nathan, despite sharing similar traits. What was also really special about The Lost Legacy was exploring Chloe’s character, giving us even more details than we’d ever gotten before, making her character more three-dimensional, and certainly more compassionate.
One of her weaknesses within Among Thieves was her selfish desire, thus pushing her to make a lot of poor decisions to benefit herself within a tight situation, even at one point betraying Nathan because he chose to do the right thing instead of leaving a wounded man behind like she happily considered doing. But later on she learnt the value of actually putting other’s before herself, although her other attributing weakness was a quick desire to walk away when things didn’t go her way, or simply didn’t matter to her.
Both of these elements are greatly explored within The Lost Legacy, making Chloe an even better addition to the franchise. I mean I liked her character before but now I’ve definitely fallen in love with her rich character, a lot of this thanks once again to Claudia Black, who returns to reprise the role. This is definitely one of the elements that makes Naughty Dog’s games superior to the rest of the industry because they get the actors involved within the movements of their respective characters, thus making them more organic and believable.
We learn about Chloe’s tragic past with her father, who was obsessed with finding the Tusk of Ganesh, ultimately leading to his absence as a father, and ultimately his death trying to find the mystical relic. This grounded Chloe’s character, much like the new approach of character development seen in A Thief’s End, and allowed us to feel her motivation and personal stake throughout the journey, not to mention her heritage which further added to her connection to the culture of the narrative and why she desperately pushed herself forward despite the dangerous consequences.
What I also liked was the return to form within the adventure side of the narrative, along with searching for another lost city. Sure, it wasn’t as grand as Shambala from Among Thieves but it was still a great spectacle exploring the Indian culture, climbing through ancient ruins, and scaling massive statues of mythical Gods. It didn’t do what I hated about Drake’s Deception where it felt too similar to what had been done before, whilst at the same time it didn’t do what I hated about A Thief’s End where it grounded itself too much and strayed too far away from the mystical side of the franchise.
It was a nice balance of the new style and the old. In many ways I felt that The Lost Legacy gave me a game that felt more like the essence of Uncharted that I truly love more so than A Thief’s End, the franchises’ official conclusion. For me it just didn’t convey the same feeling that I loved about previous instalments, despite adding so many great elements to the character’s story. It lacked the excitement of exploring ancient civilisations, and coming across a clichéd curse that made the acclaimed treasure completely dangerous, along with a menacing villain that you desperately tried to stay one step ahead of.
The Lost Legacy started out as a bit of a worrying game because I was unsure about the absence of Nathan but by the end I was totally impressed. It’s a massive shame that the franchise has come to a close but damn am I glad we got this final entry, especially since it brought in so many aspects that I loved about previous entries, almost like a greatest hits tick-list to happily tuck the franchise to bed.
I was at first disappointed in the similar choice of theming to A Thief’s End, which as much as I loved the rich jungle look, and the setting of Libertalia and New Devon, I wanted a return to more diverse locations like in Among Thieves (and to a lesser extent Drake’s Deception). But the game quickly turned things around by showcasing that there was enough difference through the culture, and the type of treasure you were chasing to make The Lost Legacy feel less of a re-tread.
One of my obvious begrudges was the lack of mention of Nathan, which again added to my worries about his lack of presence because to me he was the heart and soul of Uncharted and to have him totally absent just made me feel slightly betrayed. But as the game went on there was a few nods to him, but I felt like they’re could’ve been more. Sure, I completely understand why. Nathan had his story, and it was tucked neatly away to bed, and this adventure was meant to showcase a different narrative, with a different character, and to prove that the franchise could possibly move beyond him.
It also demonstrated how many rich characters the franchise had created and how these characters could easily carry a narrative without the presence of Nathan, and still create a story worthy of the Uncharted title. But again, this is just me being nit-picky, plus I’ve built a strong connection with Nathan over the past 10 years as he became one of the game industries finest gaming mascots (of all times), so naturally I would feel a little uneasy playing an Uncharted product without his presence.
I guess in many ways it would’ve been nice to have Chloe randomly reference Nathan through her own actions, or question how he managed to do the insane tasks that she was now trying to replicate, especially later on in the game. I guess a little bit of clarification on Chloe and Nathan’s current relationship would’ve been much appreciated, especially since Nathan is completely out of the game having finally settled down with Elena Fisher exploring the world for lost treasures in a strictly legal environment.
Another reason I wished to see this more is because the secondary character for the narrative is Nadine Ross (reprised by Laura Bailey), who served as one of the antagonist for A Thief’s End. And I will admit I really pondered on why she was picked for this final instalment because her character was really dislikeable throughout her original appearance. So I didn’t see how she could possibly be redeemed through this reappearance. But, I can happily say I was proven wrong, and like Chloe, her character was explored in great detail, to the point where she manages to turn herself around.
A bit like with The Last of Us these two characters are brought together because of necessity and don’t really get along, despite Chloe trying her damdest to forge some sort of working relationship. But as the narrative goes on their friendship blossoms and it neatly develops in a very organic way, even reaching a massive speed bump when Nadine feels betrayed, but they manage to patch things up and in the process both characters become better people because of their strong connection.
This mostly benefits Nadine as she finally pulls herself out of the shadow of Shoreline and realises that her past failed to define her and that she has a greater calling as a fully fledged treasure hunter alongside Chloe, to which she feels she has a higher purpose. But despite the aspects I did like about Nadine I was still annoyed at her moments where she slags off the Drake brothers, despite being completely in the wrong by teaming up with Rafe Alder (who was clearly a villainous character), and yet feels she holds the right to call them out on their interferences and messing up her career when it was down to her own personal mistakes in judgment.
Of course it was nice to see Nathan represented by the presence of his brother, Sam Drake (who was introduced in A Thief’s End). I kind of figured if the story of Uncharted was to continue it would be through Sam, as Naughty Dog made it clear that him and Victor Sullivan teamed-up after Nathan’s official retirement. In The Lost Legacy he’s teamed-up with Chloe, showcasing a nice blend of the old and the new, to which develops a great dynamic for the game to explore, as well as the fun conflict between Nadine and Sam which Chloe is constantly caught in the middle of.
It’s a neat surprise and allows the third act of the game to feel that bit more special. Plus it was great to see the return of Troy Baker and seeing how he interacts with Nathan’s old friend, as well as establishing himself as his brother’s (sort of) replacement within the Uncharted world, as well as seeing how his character differs from his brother’s characteristics and decision making.
For the most part it was left up to Chloe to play the part of Nathan and make all the heroic decisions, as well as be the fall-guy at every unfortunate turn (seriously, it felt like Chloe had more shit happen to her than Nathan ever did within this small campaign [because I guess that is the charm of Uncharted, seeing the protagonist constantly getting into trouble and escaping that situation by the skin of their teeth before laughing it off as “another day at the office”]).
Also, it was nice to have a villain you could take seriously. Sure they may not have been as impressive as Zoran Lazarević (who remains as the series’ best villain) but they are certainly close to that level of standards. The girls, and Sam, go up against Asav (played by Usman Ally), an ambitious and self-opinionated rebel leader who wishes to bring about a civil war by decimating an entire city, believing the ways of the “Old Gods” justifies his actions of sacrifice in order to create his strong vision for the future of his culture.
What I also liked was that he wasn’t a push-over, despite his weak appearance (which actively acts as misdirection to his enemies), and puts up quite a fight within his multiple boss encounters. Yes, we actually have boss encounters within this game (something the series has usually lacked, or just done poorly) which Chloe and Nadine go up against Asav in hand-to-hand combat fights, and this guy certainly takes a punch, as well as delivers them. Seriously, if you don’t dodge his attacks you will quickly die. But I guess I wasn’t fully a fan of this approach as the dodge mechanic was far too precise and his attacks were too relentless.
As for the gameplay, it isn’t much different to that established within A Thief’s End. You have your rope-swinging, and rock-climbing abilities as key features to your platforming, along with the usual Uncharted controls from previous instalments. There’s also the returning combat features of A Thief’s End, such as the enemies ability to locate you through a detection radar, with Chloe’s play-style accompanying a more stealth approach to fighting, making direct combat much harder than if you were playing as Nathan. But this time-round you have a tag-team ability, to which Nadine can perform attacks with you if you go after enemies with hand-to-hand combat.
There is also the random addition of lock-picking (which doesn’t really add anything to the overall experience and felt quite finicky to me) along with the usage of C4 which comes in handy, particularly against armoured vehicles. As for the puzzle sections of this extended experience: fantastic! Some of the best within the series. Sure, some of them could appear quite fiddly but they never annoyed me, and kept me completely engaged as I concentrated carefully in order to figure them out.
The “Shadow Puzzle” in particular was a great extension to the one from Drake’s Deception, to which you’ve got to try and make the statues create a shadow that matches the shapes of the characters on the wall. But this time you had to precisely move the pieces and create two sets of shadows, adding in further challenge, specifically because you could only move the statues in a certain way, which could quickly mess up your progress if you didn’t place them accordingly.
Then there’s the conclusion, which honestly, delivered the perfect homage to Among Thieves with an extensive train section. Sure, nothing can compete with the original train section, but this did come close and highlighted why The Lost Legacy did so much right by trying to replicate key elements from past games and allowing itself to feel like a true Uncharted title. It was great how this section was incorporated with the feature of hoping onto enemy vehicles in order to aid in your progression, added by the tension of trying to prevent the bomb from reaching its designated target.
This all comes to a brilliant climax as you confront Asav and bring the bastard down, sending him crashing and burning with his precious bomb (to which he bought by selling the Tusk of Ganesh [making him even more despicable because he didn’t even want the treasure for glory or power, but to simply use it to buy weapons of mass-destruction to kill innocent people for his own deluded cause]).
And with all the characters having learnt something on their grand quest (besides Sam, who still thinks first about money) The Lost Legacy grants us a neat send-off to these characters, allowing us to have this last journey with them in order to have a second farewell. It’s still sad that the franchise is over but it’s nice to know that each of the respective characters got a conclusion that best represented their character (despite this game not technically granting them a definitive conclusion like Nathan, but it still gave us the clear idea that they’d resolved some past demons, and would continue to have adventures together).
So all-in-all, goodbye Uncharted. I will miss you dearly, but at least you left me with so many fond memories and some of the finest games to ever be developed to which I can happily go back to and play to my leisure (particularly Among Thieves [that probably stands as my favourite game of all times!])
One final thing, what the fuck happened to Victor “God-damn” Sullivan? He’s nowhere to be seen and doesn’t even get a mention! How can you forget about Sully Naughty Dog? That’s it, we need one final game exploring what happened to Sully and then the series can finally be put rest. Wink, wink Naughty Dog…