Shea Reviews – Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was originally intended as story DLC for Uncharted 4, and then blossomed into its own standalone game. It’s actually longer than you might expect, considering the discounted price — I clocked in at around ten hours. It also does some interesting things to shake up the Uncharted formula, all of which work well enough that I’d love to see them carry over into future entries in the series.

First, you don’t play as Nathan Drake in The Lost Legacy. In fact, he’s nowhere to be seen. Instead, you play as Chloe Frazer, the standout sidekick from parts of Uncharted 2 and 3. Along for the journey is Nadine Ross, who was one of the “villains” of Uncharted 4. Together, you explore a few areas in India, searching for the Tusk of Ganesh, a magical MacGuffin — not everything has changed in how Uncharted works.

Chloe and Nadine sharing a look.
Chloe and Nadine’s relationship is one of the best I’ve ever seen in a video game.

The two main characters and their relationship are absolutely fantastic. I’m not a woman, so I can’t speak to the whole “this is how we actually talk” angle, but the dialogue here seems far more natural than what you’d typically see from female video game characters that have been designed by a team of 99% men. It’s nice that they don’t fall into the female Hollywood trope of just talking about men, either. They feel like real people with real thoughts and opinions. Chloe’s cultural background and upbringing take center stage, and Nadine is clearly still struggling with her actions during the events of Uncharted 4. Their dynamic evolves drastically over the course of the story, with multiple twists, turns, double crosses, and betrayals. I also love how the two of them basically shit on Nathan Drake throughout, making fun of his attitude, style, and problem-solving process.

Another Uncharted 4 character makes an appearance toward the end of the game, and while the change in dynamic is fun, I almost wish we could have just stayed with Chloe and Nadine. Bottom line: I would absolutely love for these two characters to take on the Uncharted mantle for future games.

The villain is a small step above most previous Uncharted bad guys, though that’s an admittedly low bar. He’s fairly one-note as a character, but his goals are more than simply getting rich from some lost artifact. He’s looking to incite a revolution against the government, and the final fight with him is suitably intense and dramatic.

The story also does a good job of establishing the stakes for the local area and people. I wouldn’t say the literal plot is the main draw here, but the writing and acting do a great job of making you care about more than the immediate circumstances. The game isn’t harshly political, but the civil unrest in India is definitely a common theme. At its core, though, this is still mostly a fun Indiana Jones-style adventure story.

The shorter play time is also to the game’s benefit. Despite the larger story Uncharted 4 was trying to tell, it felt slow and over-long at times — similar to The Last of Us. The Lost Legacy is a much tighter experience. There’s a decent-sized open area to explore in the front half of the game, with the second half offering a little more linearity and the Uncharted set pieces you’d expect.

There’s a train-chasing sequence in the finale that isn’t wholly new to the Uncharted playing experience, but the spectacle, intensity, and stakes are certainly there. The platforming highlight of the game for me centers around a moment where you enter an area, see this huge structure in the distance, and then eventually make your way across to climb all over it. That moment really delivers on the now years-old concept of “if you can see it, you can get to it.” With as linear as Uncharted tends to be, that isn’t always something that’s executed well.

Chloe making a statue-climbing jump.
This sequence is one of the game’s visual highlights.

Climbing still isn’t all that engaging from a gameplay perspective, but at least the things you’re climbing are often more exciting than the rocky cliffs of previous games. Chloe and Nadine also do a little shuffle whenever you have to pass each other, which is a nice touch. There’s a lot of great ambient dialogue in those moments, as well.

Puzzles in The Lost Legacy are also better and more unique than I expected. There are two that stand out in my mind — one that has you playing with shadows on a wall and another where you’re timing platform jumps to avoid ax-swinging statues. I know those descriptions sound like pretty rote Uncharted sequences, but trust me, they’re good. There’s always an element of teamwork between Chloe and Nadine in those moments. At times in previous Uncharted games, it felt like Drake was the only one who knew what he was doing.

The combat doesn’t rock the boat all that much, but there’s thankfully less of it than in Uncharted 4. I had more fun exploring the open area and taking on what amount to “bandit camps” however I saw fit — compared to the more traditional cover-shooter mechanics that remain. The Lost Legacy’s combat also retains the heavier focus on stealth, which works for these characters. Drake always felt like too much of a murder machine to justify hiding in a bush for minutes at a time. Chloe and Nadine seem less excited to kill everything in sight.

Chloe looking over a hidden jungle temple.
The art direction in The Lost Legacy is absolutely stunning.

The open area is arguably the high point of the game for me. It’s just such a big change from how Uncharted typically works, and it thankfully doesn’t overstay its welcome. You drive your jeep around to different objectives, and there’s even a little collect-athon side quest that leads to a fun hidden item. I still don’t love driving the jeep, but there aren’t as many chase or fight sequences where you have to stay on track. You’re mostly using the jeep to get from A to B.

Multiplayer is a surprising inclusion in The Lost Legacy given its price and development time, and folks that enjoy Uncharted multiplayer will find plenty to like yet again — because this mode was essentially just stripped from Uncharted 4. I haven’t put more than a few hours into it — as my distaste for competitive multiplayer shooters has been well documented — but I’m glad it’s there for people that want it.

There’s also a new co-op multiplayer mode that works like a traditional horde mode. Just like the competitive portion, it’s fine for what it is, but it’s not really what I’m looking for from an Uncharted game.

Chloe and Nadine enjoying the jungle view.
Yes, yes it is.

From a visuals perspective, Naughty Dog is still at the forefront of the industry for its combination of art direction and technical execution. Seriously, this game made me drop my jaw on multiple occasions. The character animations are also near-flawless, though plenty of the praise there goes to the actors.

My only gripe would be with the visual variety. In another game, this wouldn’t be a problem, but we’ve explored so many jungles in Uncharted at this point that yet another one isn’t the most visually interesting. The exception is the opening sequence taking place in an impoverished city in India. It reminds me a bit of the rooftop helicopter sequence from Uncharted 2, but the rain, darkness, and population density in The Lost Legacy’s city sequences elevate them to another level. It’s certainly the most visually unique area in the game.

Chloe looking over a destroyed city in India.
This isn’t a view you’d see in a typical Uncharted game.

All in all, there’s an argument to be made that The Lost Legacy is an even better game than Uncharted 4, and considering Uncharted 4 won my Game of The Year in 2016, that’s pretty high praise.

9.6/10

So, what did you think of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to check out my other video game reviews!

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