Uncharted: The Lost Legacy Review (PS4)

With Uncharted 4’s satisfying conclusion, it seemed clear that a few doors were intentionally left open for more stories in the swashbuckling world of Uncharted. The question was raised of whether or not the series would be able to live on without Nathan Drake as its protagonist. One year later, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is an all-new adventure featuring two previously supporting characters: Nadine Ross and Chloe Frazer.

Frazer and Ross reluctantly pair up in order to obtain a valuable artifact called the Tusk of Ganesh deep in the Indian mountains. Set after the events of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, players take control of Chloe, who is largely on a quest to see through her deceased father’s archaeological research and life ambitions. Along the way, Chloe and Nadine’s efforts are repeatedly interrupted by a mercenary militia group in typical Uncharted fashion. If it sounds predictable, that’s because it is, but it doesn’t necessarily take away from the experience one might expect from Naughty Dog’s blockbuster-style AAA franchise.

From a mechanical perspective, playing as Chloe is nearly identical to what we are acquainted with after ten years playing as Nathan Drake. It’s an adequate way for Naughty Dog to test the waters with a “spin-off” game, since she has virtually all the skills and knowledge that he has. Don’t expect to be doing much besides the cover-shooting, climbing, and exploring that the series is known for. It all feels very familiar, which is both positive and negative for all intents and purposes. The Lost Legacy doesn’t push the series forward in any meaningful ways, but it is a solid, standalone story set in a world that fans adore.

For the most part, The Lost Legacy takes the foundation laid by Uncharted 4 and builds a new story on top of it, which isn’t surprising considering this was originally conceived as DLC content before it grew and evolved into a standalone title. It plays exactly the same way, but avoids some of the more grueling aspects such as winching the jeep out of mud and those terrible box-moving puzzles (well, there is one instance of this). With the absence of tedious roadblocks, the story moves along much faster.

Naughty Dog’s worlds have always been beautiful and their vision of India is certainly no exception. The game opens in a crowded marketplace before leading into a thrilling nighttime foot chase. This scripted action sequence was a highlight for me, consisting of leaping across rooftops and clinging to walls to avoid enemy gunfire. In the distance, the city’s landscape is fully realized while the player is focused on grappling onto beautiful neon signs and ziplining across wide gaps. This is only a taste of what is to come in the later game as Chloe and Nadine make their way into the Indian jungle.

Once the treasure hunting begins, we are treated to some of the most breathtaking set pieces in any Uncharted to date. Some familiar climbing sequences filled with “uh oh” moments like handholds breaking are rewarded with stunning landscapes. Even Chloe pulls out her camera to capture the massive wood-carved statue of Ganesh or an enormous temple flanked by rapidly flowing waterfalls. I found myself staring in wonder at these set pieces for minutes at a time, which motivated me to slow down my adventure and take everything in. A lot of detail is put into viewing environments from multiple angles, as I found while rope swinging across ledges and slipping down mudslides at rapid speed only to leap into the water.

Even though the climbing is scripted and essentially follows a linear path, I found it to be finely tuned and ultimately felt satisfied after reaching the top of a peak. The same cannot be said for the gunplay, which always felt like a drag. Ducking behind cover and shooting the beefy private military men never felt great nor did it really create any intensity. A lot of this negativity has to do with the rebel leader/warlord and main villain, Asav, who is so ridiculously evil that he could be a cartoon character. His motivations weren’t convincing enough for me to feel one way or the other and I quickly began to dread any encounter with him. It doesn’t help that the two fistfights you have with him are tedious and mechanically frustrating.

What works incredibly well in The Lost Legacy is the dynamic between Chloe and Nadine — two characters I never really paid much attention to before. The excellent dialogue paired with believable voice acting by Claudia Black and Laura Bailey keep these characters intriguing throughout the adventure. By the end of the story, I felt for both characters who each struggled in their own ways and ultimately found some common ground between one another. You learn about where they came from, what their motivations are, and how they cope with pressure. Given the tense political climate of civil war, they have differing views on how to handle dire situations, but are well aware of the stakes.

There’s a good amount of depth to these once side characters who are now put in the spotlight. Longtime fans of Uncharted will appreciate the nods to events in previous games and references to flagship characters. It’s enlightening to hear about Chloe and Nadine’s take on Nathan Drake, whether it’s in a playful or accusatory manner. It’s done in such a way that fleshes out the greater Uncharted lore. We learn a lot about how our protagonists think and what they feel throughout the game.

While there isn’t much new mechanically in The Lost Legacy, the puzzles are more witty despite being fairly simple. One of my favorite puzzles involved moving abstract statues in such a way that their shadows would depict important events in Hindu mythology. It took me longer to solve than I was used to in an Uncharted game, and required some logical and orderly thinking. In past games, I felt like the puzzles were frustrating road blocks, but I found myself enjoying those in The Lost Legacy.

The 4×4 jeep is back once again and is used to freely navigate the rugged terrain of the Indian jungle. Chapter four, the longest in the game, introduces some light open-world mechanics — a first for the series. With three main objective points, a handful of optional collectibles, and some scattered guard outposts, it feels a bit like a watered down Far Cry. I didn’t find this section to be particularly fun, but I did appreciate the fact that Chloe physically pulls out a paper map and marks off points of interest to navigate. In a game like Uncharted, this is much preferable to having waypoints cluttering up the HUD and telling me exactly where I need to go.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy doesn’t take any risks in its gameplay or storytelling, but it offers a new fun adventure that is fairly meaty at 7-8 hours. The dynamic between characters Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross carry the story and always keep things fresh and interesting. It is weighed down by boring combat sequences, but ultimately makes up for it with edge-of-your-seat cinematic moments and some of the most gorgeous set pieces to date.

Published by Ben Eberle - Senior Editor

I'm a freelance writer and musician based out of Providence, RI. I started playing videogames at a young age and I have since developed a love for JRPGs, indie games, shooters, and all things Star Wars. When I am not gaming, I am reading science fiction novels or performing music. Follow me on Twitter @_northernfrost