The release of an Uncharted game is a major event in any gamer’s calendar. Almost a year since the touching conclusion to Nathan Drake’s story, this quick turnover has raised its fair share of eyebrows, skirting the line of turning this iconic franchise into a cash grab. With Drake recently retired, we’re presented with a protagonist who offers a very new and a very fresh perspective on an otherwise quite stagnant formula.
On the surface, Chloe’s motivations may seem similar to those of a young Drake: deftly leaping and swinging from cliff faces, in the hope of finding yet another lost city. As the story progresses we soon find out that’s not entirely the case for our heroine. With that, The Lost Legacy accumulates into a rather compelling and powerful tale about loyalty, grief and forgiveness.
The Drake-less pairing of treasure hunter Chloe Frazer and ex-mercenary Nadine Ross – that incredibly hench woman, who repeatedly beats and pummels you throughout A Thief’s End – not only prove to be a capable duo but also an entertaining one. Like any beautiful relationship, the pair is initially apprehensive, but of course, their friendship inevitably blossoms, without relying on Drake’s quips and wise-cracking.
The unlikely team travel to the Wester Ghats of India, in the search of an artifact, called the Tusk of Ganesh. Like previous outings, Chloe and Nadine find themselves racing against a power-hungry villain, who desperately wishes to get his hands on the exact treasure they’re searching for. Asav, a highly-strung and perpetually angry warlord, is possibly the most ruthless antagonist the series has seen since Uncharted 2’s Serbian war criminal, Zoran Lazarević.
Chances are, the Uncharted franchise will be forever celebrated for its explosively thrilling set pieces. But it’s the wonderful, little subtleties during the quieter moments that will set it apart from other titles. As always, the writing and performances are executed exquisitely well. Not only is it engaging to see both leads drop their emotional barriers of mistrust, but the interplay aids in filling in the gaps since the events of A Thief’s End. Claudia Black’s performance as Chloe is especially enjoyable.
The game’s subtitle echoes Chloe’s personal drive in obtaining the tusk. A crushing revelation strikes her during a pivotal point in the game, the scene is an exceptional piece of acting and storytelling from all involved.
Naughty Dog has become masters of masking the true size of their levels. Seamlessly blending the playable area into the backdrop, creates the false perception that the map itself is sprawling and varied. When in fact, it is a restricted square of intertwining roads, all leading to the same objective, with a few hidden alcoves holding treasures and lock boxes. Nicely done, Naughty Dog, you band of tricksters *winks*.
Though The Lost Legacy is advertised as a new, solo Uncharted experience, and apart from the nuanced gameplay, it is essentially Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. And it seems both characters have inherited Nathan Drake’s ridiculous luck when it comes to interacting with traversable surfaces. Most of the elaborate and memorable sequences in The Lost Legacy – high-speed chances, climbing monstrous-sized monuments – mirror those of A Thief’s End. This makes them no less exciting and entertaining, however.
The gameplay is familiar and satisfying. It shifts between claustrophobic fist fights, to lengthy gun battles, to an intricate mix of climbing and shooting. Nadine is consistently by your side, adding a reasonably fresh and diverse dynamic to enemy encounters.
Both Chloe and Nadine are perfectly capable on their own, but when they team up it can be particularly devastating. For instance, Chloe will perform a slick slide tackle, and while the unfortunate goon is airborne, Nadine will follow up with a running punt that will have you simultaneously wincing and cheering.
There’s never been a more even mix of puzzles, combat, and exploration in the series than in The Lost Legacy. Of course, you’ll encounter the typical switch-activation moment, this game keeps such laborious sections to a minimum; the new batch of riddles will halt your progression long enough that you’ll be forced to use your noggin, if you don’t, well, you’ll get twatted by a giant, mechanical axe.
Many will categorise The Lost Legacy as “more of the same.” But more Uncharted isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Our high expectations are indicative of Naughty Dog’s attention to detail and empowering work ethic. And the story of Chloe and Nadine doesn’t falter in either department. With a newly playable treasure hunter comes new perspectives and character motivations, neatly wrapped in an “Uncharted Greatest Hits” package.
A question mark could be raised by the fact the studio’s latest titles have been a remastered classic and an expansion on a recently concluded series; it could also suggest that the studio has pooled all its time and resources into developing The Last of Us Part II, putting a strain on the team creatively. Regardless of whether you agree with their recent activity, you can be assured any project that has the Naughty Dog paw print accompanying it, will be well worth your time.