Developer: Naughty Dog – Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment – Platform: PlayStation 4 – Release Date: August 22, 2017
At A Glance
It’s more Uncharted starring the series two deadliest women.
Upon Closer Inspection
Pretty much what you expect, but with two characters possessing the best chemistry the series has ever seen.
How’s The Story?
The Lost Legacy takes place post-Uncharted 4. As series favorite Chloe Frazer, you form a reluctant alliance with Nadine Ross, the ruthless and hot-headed mercenary leader from A Thief’s End. Together, the pair explore the wilds of India in search of the fabled tusk of Ganesh.
Until now, Chloe’s been presented as little more than Uncharted’s charismatic femme fatale sidekick. The Lost Legacy does a great job of fleshing her out by giving her a personal stake in her quest. Set in a war-torn part of India, and Chloe being half-Indian, her reactions to her homeland’s predicament ground her a bit, as do the glimpses into her family and upbringing. It’s nice to see Chloe as a complete person and not just fem-Drake. Not to be upstaged, getting to know Nadine, more or less a villain in Uncharted 4, has its moments as well. Her relatable motivations, including non-dastardly aspirations, paint Nadine as far more likable and vulnerable person than the hard-ass Drake traded blows with.
Chloe and Nadine’s tense partnership stands as The Lost Legacy’s strongest aspect. Nadine’s stern, straightforward attitude makes her a wonderful straightwoman to Chloe’s upbeat sarcasm. The pair trade some genuinely funny lines, and the contrast in personalities creates the most entertaining dynamic the series has ever had. Watching them gradually begin to tolerate, and even appreciate, each other’s presence leads to touching scenes that increased my fondness for both ladies tenfold.
The little touches in character development from Uncharted 4 make a welcome return. In one of my favorite little scenes, Nadine and an emotionally rattled Chloe climb a up a structure in a flooded room. Upon reaching the top, Nadine asks if Chloe’s head is in the game to which Chloe insists is the case. Nadine tests this by suddenly shoving Chloe off the platform, sending her plunging back into the water below. The player must then ascend to the top again, with Nadine playfully asking again if Chloe’s focused. What should have been annoying setback wound up being a delightfully weird and smart little storytelling touch that feels like classic Naughty Dog. The Lost Legacy boasts several such moments, including one magical scene evocative of the famous giraffe scene in The Last of Us.
The overall plot checks the boxes of standard Uncharted swashbuckling: big thrills, laughably implausible close calls, sharply written dialogue, and big surprises. Though the first couple of hours don’t offer much context–you aren’t entirely sure why you’re doing what you’re doing–everything eventually comes together in satisfying fashion. A special shout-out goes to would-be revolutionary Asav, a truly deplorable antagonist I thoroughly enjoyed punching in the face.
How Does It Look?
Over the years, this franchise has exhausted my lexicon of expressions to describe its beautiful presentation. The Lost Legacy’s looks fantastic, upholding the series’ reputation as among the best looking series ever. I lost count of the number of “dramatic reveal of picturesque ruins or landscapes” but I never got tired of them. Indian markets and rundown slums posses the same immaculate detail as the lush jungles and larger-than-life ancient structures. Despite all that rendering horsepower, The Lost Legacy performs as well as it looks with no framerate or technical hiccups that I experienced.
How Does It Sound?
Unsurprisingly, Claudia Black and Laura Bailey knock their performances of Chloe and Nadine, respectfully, out of the park. Kudos also goes to Usman Ally’s portrayal of Asav, a performance that, again, succeeded in making me want to pummel him into oblivion. The summer movie pomp score never fails to get the blood pumping, and sound effects, such as explosions, sound great with a good pair of headphones.
How Fun Is It?
If you played Uncharted 4 and loved it, The Lost Legacy should be right up your alley because it delivers more of that with very minor changes. Chloe can pick locks in a simple new mini-game that works fine and winds up playing a bigger role at certain points than you’d expect. The grappling hook remains a fun mechanic. The dialogue options, however, have been benched, something I didn’t mind at all. Seeking out vantage points for Chloe to take scenic cellphone photos is a small but neat touch. Like a cherished photo album, scrolling through shots of previously explored areas gives that fun sense of reflection I used to feel watching screenshot highlights during the credits of old-school games.
Gun battles are often chaotic and challenging. I’ve slowly soured on Uncharted’s so-so gunplay as superior third-person shooters popped up around it. As with A Thief’s End, quietly snuffing out foes offers more reward than blowing people to smithereens. That can still be fun in a mindless way, such as the insane final battle that pulls inspiration from one of Uncharted 2’s most famous sequences.
Nadine’s surprising usefulness as a companion made her one of my favorite AI partners in recent memory. She competently takes down enemies on her own so she’s good in a fight. In stealth situations, she’ll mark anyone you may have overlooked on the screen, which saved my butt on several occasions. Nadine’s also rather awesome with puzzle-solving. The best example was a door that required activating five scattered switches to open. Not only did Nadine find two of them, but she actually turned them on. Almost any other AI partner in other games would have just pointed such things out and just stood there, making you drop what you’re doing to perform the simple task yourself. Touches like that make Nadine feels like a real partner and not a glorified child.
On that subject, I had a blast solving The Lost Legacy’s unique and challenging puzzles. One cool platforming riddle has you leaping across a room of pillars in a specific sequence to avoid the swings of ax-wielding statues. Landing on a pillar causes the statues to further wind up their impending swing, so you must plan steps ahead in an almost chess-like fashion to avoid getting cleaved. Puzzle-solving in general gets a welcomed spotlight. Chiefly, a chapter centered around a series of ruins that can be explored in any order. The large hub environment contains three critical areas plus nearly a dozen of equally fun, optional puzzles reward a substantial prize.
The Lost Legacy’s identical design to Uncharted 4 would be the only complaint I could conceivably lob at it. That includes the multiplayer, which is literally the exact same with insignificant tweaks. But given the game’s original intent as a DLC expansion plus the short turnaround (roughly 15 months after the fourth game’s release), that’s a forgivable “sin” in my book. I have a tough time complaining about getting more of my favorite game from 2016.
The Lost Legacy takes Uncharted 4 and condenses it into a wonderfully tight package highlighted by a memorable adventure starring two great characters. Though definitely more of the same formula, Chloe and Nadine are such a delightful pairing that even the most fatigued fans should find enjoyment in The Lost Legacy for narrative reasons if nothing else. I went into this game intrigued but wary about another Uncharted story after Naughty Dog perfectly tied the knot on the series with A Thief’s End. I walked away thinking the Uncharted brand could not only carry on without Nathan Drake but that it could thrive; especially if the leading ladies get to carry the torch going forward.