Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Review Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Some would say that the most important parts of any game are the characters. They are one of the defining parts of any game, from a single title, to the potential multitude of adventures that players share the experience with. For Uncharted, it’s always been about Nathan Drake drive for fortune and discovery. Sure, there are fan favorites like Sully, Cutter, or Elena that have helped shape who Nathan Drake is as a character, but what is Uncharted without Nathan Drake at the helm? Can the tag team of Chloe and Nadine fit the bill for the series? Uncharted: The Lost Legacy‘s adventure can feel a bit foggy at times without Nate in the picture, but the common themes of the series are in full force for this standalone story, and proves to be the tipping point to what is an incredible adventure to partake in.
Even though Nate isn’t the face of the lasted adventures, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy‘s lead act Chloe Frazer excels in the role. Combining her historical expertise and cheap, yet frequent one liners would fool anyone that she’s simply Nathan Drake in a women’s body. The comparisons between the two are noticeable, and in return makes the game’s new lead ease into the role comfortably.
While developer Naughty Dog has been making the claim for The Lost Legacy as a standalone game, it does at times toe the line at feeling like a juicy piece of DLC instead. My five hour play through of the game’s nine chapters offered a lot, to the point where many of its great moments passed by quicker than I hoped they would. The one area of the game that I wished had been given a bit more TLC was Nadine’s development as a character. In Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End, her screen time felt sporadic and left her woefully under developed as a character, and the truncated experience of The Lost Legacy is one of the reasons for this as well.
As far as Nadine and Chloe are concerned, their relationship certainly hits its peaks and valleys. The problem with this wide range of emotions the two express towards each other in the game is that each pivotal moments between them feels like its coming at lightning pace. During one cutscene, they may be at each others throats, but ten minutes later everything is back to being good as new. It’s not to say any the dynamics between two characters can have this range of extremes, but the story jumps from one end to the next and back faster than I would have liked it to.
Character development and story details aside, The Lost Legacy again raises the benchmark for what the enivornments in an Uncharted game can be, and the story’s open world chapter is keen to vouch for that claim. Touting it as the largest open chapter area in an Uncharted yet, the map is littered with treasures and side quests if you so happen to embark on them. Driving your 4×4 from one location to the other might feel like a bit of a trip compared to Uncharted 4‘s Madagascar level, but once there, the puzzles and level design make for some exciting stealth and combat areas. The only knock I can truly give on the gameplay front is there are some areas in the game’s open world chapter I’d think are reachable, only to have me aimlessly jumping up and down in an attempt to grab onto what I thought was a foothold in a cliffside leading to an undiscovered treasure.
Keeping on the topic of puzzles, Uncharted‘s story expansion offers some of, if not the best set pieces of any of the preceding entries. Climbing and exploring the ancient ruins of India to uncover the secrets of Ganesh are awesome, even if the tropes of the typical treasure hunter do expectantly present themselves. Some of the best areas in the Uncharted series are those that are massive in scale and thoughtfully designed, and with The Lost Legacy the approach is no different.
The continued expansion of exploration options and gorgeously designed levels was never in question for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. As I mentioned in the beginning, my biggest concern was how I would feel playing an Uncharted game not as Nathan Drake, and as great as this story was it always felt like there was something missing from it. In return for the cast shake-up, I did find a new appreciation for the “nuts and bolts” per say of how well stealth, gun play, puzzles, and action have always been above and beyond any other game series that I’ve put considerable time into. It’s not on top, but if this truly is the end of Naughty Dog’s take of Uncharted, they’ve done so with an exclamation point.
The absence of Nathan Drake hampers the experience of Uncharted The Lost Legacy at times. Despite the change in lead acts, the performances of Chloe and Nadine are well done, and click with the story and gorgeous set pieces that have become the mainstay in every Uncharted game to date.