Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: 8/22/17
ESRB/PEGI: T/PEGI 16
MSRP: $39.99 USD/$49.99 CA
Written by Rick Warren / Gfn2112
When I reached the end of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, I was ecstatic. I had just experienced one of my favorite games of the generation and seen one of my favorite endings of all time. What made it even more special was knowing that this was the last time I'd be seeing Nathan Drake. Due to that, I assumed Uncharted 4 was going to be the end of the Uncharted series, too. I was aware that Uncharted was getting a single-player DLC, but I didn't think much of it. When the DLC was revealed at PSX I was surprised to see that both Chloe and Nadine were returning, and I was immediately on board to learn more about both. As news continued to come out about the DLC, it was clear that Naughty Dog was putting a tremendous amount of effort into making something at the level of quality you'd expect from their full games. Sure enough, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy became just that; a full Uncharted game. I became even more excited at that moment, but after some time passed I began to worry about what could go wrong. Uncharted 4 had been a perfect ending to Nathan Drake's journey. Was it worth the risk of possibly putting out a disappointing final game, instead of just going out strong? Could the series work without the beloved character that led it for a decade? I was stuck on those two questions for so long and became filled with doubt... but I shouldn't have been. After all, Uncharted is a Naughty Dog series. The answer to both questions was a resounding yes. It was worth the risk. Uncharted can and should be about more than just Nathan Drake's adventures, and The Lost Legacy proves it.
"I'm tired of walking away."
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a lot like Uncharted 4 in the sense that it focuses more on character development and telling a story than supernatural creatures or huge set-pieces. This is far from a negative, as character development is exactly what the new protagonist, Chloe Frazer, needed. She was great in her supporting role in Uncharted 2 and 3, but to lead a game she would need to be more than just charming and funny. She's still both of those things in this, but so much more too. Finally learning her backstory helps to explain both why she hunts for treasure and some of her choices in previous Uncharted titles. More than that though, the way Chloe evolves in this 8-hour adventure is truly extraordinary. It’s some of the finest character development I've ever seen in such a short amount of time. By the end of the game she makes the choice to become something even the great Nathan Drake didn't go out of his way to be: a hero.
The other character worth discussing is Chloe's partner-in-crime: the former mercenary Nadine Ross. While admittedly less interesting than Chloe's story, Nadine's goal to regain control of Shoreline leads to a fair amount of development (and redemption) of her own. Her best moments are when she plays off Chloe's snarky remarks, and it’s great to see her business relationship with Chloe form into a friendship as the game goes on. Their bond works extremely well thanks to Naughty Dog's trademark strengths: excellent writing, great facial animation, and perfect casting. Claudia Black is better than ever as Chloe, and the same can be said for Laura Bailey's Nadine. Every conversation between them is believable and their chemistry is as good as any of Nate's relationships in the main series.
The game has one awesome cameo that I'll avoid going too in-depth on to avoid spoilers. Still, I will say that it works very well and will come as a pleasant surprise for Uncharted fans. The only other character with a role large enough to mention is the game's villain, Asav. Honestly though, there's not much to say. He's kind of just there as a plot device and never becomes more than a typical evil terrorist. As with any Uncharted game, the villains obviously aren't the focus... but it’s a bit of a shame to see Naughty Dog take a few steps back after giving us Rafe in Uncharted 4.
Welcome to India.
If you played A Thief's End, I'm sure you remember the Madagascar section clearly. It was extremely beautiful and unlike anything we had seen in Uncharted before. With The Lost Legacy, Naughty Dog set out to surpass that section and they succeeded. Upon reaching India you're introduced to another open area like Madagascar and given a 4x4 to traverse it with. Its easily twice the size of the one that inspired it and gorgeous beyond belief, reaching Horizon Zero Dawn levels of beauty with ease. Like how I was with that game I found myself hooked when it came to the photo mode, constantly messing with all the options (both silly and serious) to capture some of the great scenery. Whenever I came out of a cutscene, I ended up accidentally waiting a few seconds because I couldn't tell if it was over or not. The game genuinely looks that good.
India is more than just one of the most visually impressive areas I've seen in a game, though; it’s also the time where I've felt the most like a treasure hunter in the Uncharted series. This is thanks to a neat little side quest that tasks you with finding 11 tokens around the semi-open world. Each requires a simple puzzle, platforming section or fight to progress through and they're all very fun to do. Upon collecting the tokens, you can go back to the main area to collect your rewards: 3 treasures, a funny conversation with Nadine and a bracelet that notifies you when a collectible is nearby. These rewards certainly aren't game-changing, but it’s nice to have something to help with finding collectibles. Even without a huge reward I'd recommend doing the quest, because it just feels so damn good to explore.
Considering that the Lost Legacy began as a short DLC for Uncharted 4, it’s not too surprising that it borrows most of its features from Drake's final adventure. Aside from a new lock picking mini-game, don't plan to see many new mechanics. Everything from the rope to the weaponry makes a return, and the same stealth mechanics make a comeback too. You can still restart combat encounters and you're given access to the entire multiplayer portion of Uncharted 4. Its undeniably a lot of the same... but I don't see any problem with that. A Thief's End was the most refined Uncharted gameplay experience by far, so I'm perfectly happy with playing through a new story that has equally great combat and platforming.
It is worth mentioning that the developers heard some of the feedback about their previous title. You'll only find one "move the crate" section here, and it ultimately leads to Naughty Dog breaking the fourth wall and poking fun at themselves. Acknowledging that minor flaw did help the pacing, as no mechanic was used too often. However, it made me wish they addressed a couple other flaws that ended up persisting from Uncharted 4 to The Lost Legacy. One of my problems was missing some minor lines of dialogue due to my AI partner moving too far away from me. It happened quite a few times, which is a shame because the dialogue is such a selling point for this series. I also had trouble in some stealth sections because there was no way to distract enemies, something that I really hoped they would introduce here. These were two very minor issues, sure, but they're still issues.
I mentioned earlier that this game wasn't focused on giant set-pieces, and it’s certainly not... but there is one of them. The big moment makes up the entire final chapter, and it’s terrific. It’s basically a combination of the car chase from Uncharted 4 and the train sequence from Uncharted 2. What happens when you combine the two best moments from the two best games in a series? Magic. I was smiling all the way through the final 15 minutes, as this last bit stood as a perfect homage to prior games while still being a memorable moment of its own. When it was over and the credits began to roll, I came to the realization that the game I had been so worried about had just become one of my favorites in the entire series. I don't know why I ever doubted the most skilled studio in the video game industry, but they've released yet another game that I'll remember for years. Thanks to The Lost Legacy, I've gone from being completely against more Uncharted games to being all for them. Whether it’s another journey with Chloe, a story about Sully's younger years or a new adventure with Sam, I'll always be ready to revisit the Uncharted universe.
FINAL SCORE: 9