Title: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Platform: PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release date: 22 August, 2017
Tl;Dr: This was so much more fantastic than I could ever have hoped for.
Price: £30/$40
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

Until yesterday, Uncharted had its send off last year, when Nate became a thief one last time and magically gained a brother in the process. When the story DLC was initially announced, my heart sank, because the obvious choice appeared to be a Sam and Sully adventure, and if you read my review of Uncharted 4, you’ll know that not much love is lost between Samuel Drake and I, because Nate really doesn’t need another excuse to screw up his marriage.

Then the 2016 PlayStation Experience trailer dropped, and I was once again given hope, because if there’s one character you want leading your game, it’s Chloe Frazer, and Chloe Frazer took that ball, ran with it, and did a few backflips into god tier storytelling for good measure.

Guys.

It’s really, really good.

Uncharted

Lost Legacy picks up where Uncharted 4 left off, with Nate out of the picture and leaving the treasures of the world unplundered. Chloe is still deep within the game, and is looking specifically, for the Tusk of Ganesh, a surprisingly non magical artefact that has huge cultural (and, as we later find, sentimental) value, and the lost city of Halebidu, where the Hoysala Empire made their final stand against the Persians.

Begrudgingly alongside her is ex-mercenary Nadine Ross, having lost control of her hired guns at Shoreline, and is forced into helping Chloe because there’s a big payday on the horizon, and her name has been left in complete tatters after the events of the previous game. Do I really have to say that hijinks ensue?

Uncharted

The gameplay hasn’t changed all that much, only in the sense that it feels a lot more smooth and fast. Apart from the puzzles, there’s only one new feature, but that doesn’t hurt this game in the slightest. Gunplay is fun and efficient, and the rope swinging blends smoothly in with the plot as quick time events. The aforementioned new feature is lock picking; Chloe will open up a trunk or door with her hair pin, and the controller will vibrate when you’re in the right spot. Immersive? Definitely. Actually all that useful unless you want another gun or grenade? Not totally.

I’m not sure if it was my imagination, but climbing feels a lot quicker, letting Chloe bound from ledge to ledge with ease, and even the swimming feels like another step up. It’s a dream to play – we’ve finally gotten rid of Nate’s habit of sticking to walls when hiding in cover! Overall, it feels much more refined, and so smooth to play, even if the driving is still that tiny bit too sensitive. Plus, there’s no paid microtransactions; you earn points upon finishing the game, and you can unlock character skins, game modes, and so on. Collectibles are back, and there’s a lot of them, plus an optional challenge to get Hoysala tokens; you’re getting value for money, folks.

Uncharted

The environments are absolutely stunning, and whilst it’s obvious that in places, they’ve reused assets from Uncharted 4, that’s by no means a bad thing. India goes from miserable slum to gorgeous, lush jungle, with crystal clear waterfalls and intricately carved statues. There’s been so much love put into this game, and it absolutely shows. There’s even tiny, silly details like Chloe being able to take photos on her phone, and conversations picking up where they left off when you exit the vehicle – the game specifically acknowledges it, and it’s great.

The facial animations, and thus motion capture, really shine through here. The cutscenes are gorgeous, with faultless lip sync matched with some amazing voice acting; the characters feel like living, breathing people. Normally, I can point to one thing and say “the hair keeps clipping through things,” or “the skin textures look really off,” but today I can safely say there’s none of that. The character designs, too, are really interesting and aesthetically different. An Indian villain, and a South African and Australian-Indian in the protagonist roles; we’ve got an interesting bunch, and the character models reflect that; to be honest, it’s really refreshing to see some character diversity, and, more importantly, two female leads who stand on their own as characters without being needlessly sexualised or “strong,” female characters who have no emotions and just punch things – not that this has ever been a problem for Uncharted.

Uncharted

For me, the plot and characters are the best part about Lost Legacy. Initially, I was dubious, because I really didn’t like Nadine previously, and Chloe’s narrative voice at the start, sounded a lot like Nate’s; basically, we were going to get Uncharted Lite. But as the hours went on, it quickly became clear that Chloe and Nadine’s friendship is built on a solid foundation of trust, snarkiness, and trekking across the Indian jungle. Their friendship feels wonderfully natural and genuine. This is no instant friendship, this is a proper relationship, and it’s so fantastic to see.

As well as this, the pacing is excellent; certainly no filler set pieces this time. It’s slightly shorter than your average Uncharted game (I clocked in at 7 hours, 51 minutes as opposed to the 12 or so hours they usually take) and it feels like nothing is wasted; every scene is important. More so than that, it’s genuinely witty, funny, and draws on a lot of what made Uncharted good to start with. Look at the screenshot above – the Marco Polo joke is back! The line about Chloe not wanting to walk away anymore – exactly what she did at the end of Amongst Thieves, and the train in the last level is very clearly a call back to the same game.

Uncharted

The added backstory for Chloe, too, is excellent stuff, and the game totally managed to sell me on Nadine, this time around. She’s a fully fledged character now, not just a two-bit villain, and I thoroughly enjoyed her as a protagonist. And when the game ends on a high, hilarious note, I couldn’t be happier. I’m thrilled with Lost Legacy; it holds its own as a game, in amongst the “main,” ones, and I don’t consider it DLC, I consider it a sequel.

Sorry, Drake’s Fortune, you’re off the top spot. Now, can I have another Chloe game, please?

 

The Good

  • Chloe’s phone seriously must be indestructible by this point
  • Two female leads who are actual characters
  • Chloe’s snark is phenomenal

The Bad

  • Would’ve liked to see Nate in an epilogue, but that’s me being nostalgic

Family Friendly?

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is rated PEGI 16/ESRB Rating T for Teen, for “realistic violence,” and “Blood, Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence.” That all seems pretty fitting, so maybe keep it away from the kids.

 

Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game purchased for for the purposes of this review.