The Uncharted series is without a doubt one of my favorite video game collections of all time. It consistently blurred the line between video games and cinema, reaching its pinnacle with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a masterpiece that allowed you to recreate a big budget action movie from the comfort of your couch and turned single player gaming into a spectator event. Despite its stellar history, our favorite thieves have been showing some signs of aging recently. Their place atop the action/adventure genre was usurped by the rebooted Tomb Raider which perfected the well established formula and gameplay mechanics pioneered by Uncharted. But the first entry of this generation of consoles, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, proved that this series still has the most heart, and the trademark Naughty Dog storytelling and beautiful graphics sucked me in for one of my favorite experiences of 2016.
The release of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy had me skeptical at first. A Thief’s End had given us a fitting conclusion to Nathan Drake’s saga. Could a game that was originally designed as DLC for that grand finale actually carry the torch of the proud franchise, or was it merely a cheap cash-in playing off the goodwill of previous games? It wasn’t until I found the already discounted title half-off for Black Friday that I decided finding out the answer was worth a shot even if it was doomed to collect dust in my backlog for a couple of months. Thankfully, my initial hesitance proved unfounded, and I was rewarded with a perfect weekend gaming experience that showed me I was nowhere near ready to let this world go.
Your journey starts out relatively slowly but solidly as you get accustomed to the new Indian landscape and learn of the adventure you’re going to have searching for the tusk of Ganesh (note: this is a fake thing that I will remember not to bring up to my Indian in-laws). The stunning visuals and charismatic protagonist Chloe quickly got my attention, but the true highlight was watching the partnership between Chloe and Nadine grow. Aside from just having the phenomenal dialogue we’re used to from Naughty Dog, it also felt incredible playing a game with not one but two female leads who were so well developed. After blasting through the first 3 chapters in a single sitting, I was prepared to be blown away, but the enchantment of the beginning was almost lost for good in Chapter 4. While well intentioned, this overly long and convoluted “open world” driving stage was frequently hampered by the series’ weakest point, combat, every time it started to get interesting.
Fortunately, the game does a complete 180 starting with Chapter 5 and never lets up from there. Swashbuckling adventuring returns to the forefront including some of the best puzzles in Uncharted’s history (yay not having to constantly look at your journal). Not to be outdone, the story truly begins to shine with several genuinely wonderful emotional beats like learning more about Chloe’s dad and a remarkable sequence (SPOILERS) where you save a trapped elephant that rivals the giraffe scene from the other Naughty Dog classic The Last of Us (End Spoilers). Meanwhile the action starts to hit highs with some great hand-to-hand brawling sequences and a delightfully kinetic train chase reminiscent of the brilliant one from Uncharted 2.
Once the game got going, I didn’t want to put it down, and I managed to finish the 7 hour adventure in a single day. Shockingly, I even found myself hoping for bad football games, so I would have an excuse to play this instead. While The Lost Legacy in no way showed any evolution of Uncharted from a gameplay perspective (as an amusing photo mode was the only real new addition), I do think it represented what the series should morph in to now that our original hero, Nathan Drake, has hung up his climbing boots for good. To my pleasant surprise, my time with Chloe and Nadine was right up there with the best the four previous entries had to offer.
By the end of the game, Chloe had firmly established herself as more than just the worthy foil and romantic interest she was in previous games. Through personal growth and replacing her darkness and selfishness with hope and heroism, she had proven herself to be a deserving successor to the most charming thief ever. Even if no major innovations lie on the horizon, I would definitely be ok with getting my exploration fix in every couple of years with shorter games like this that are focused on the rest of the wonderful Uncharted ensemble.
Keep scrolling below for some spoilery pictures of my favorite moment in the game.