Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – Review

Since its announcement I wasn’t sure what to make of The Lost Legacy. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was a stunning finale and a worthy send-off for Nathan Drake. Everything was wrapped up so elegantly that I figured we were some ways off before the franchise’ inevitable return.

Originally planned to be the first ever single-player expansion in the Uncharted series. Naughty Dog found this project far more ambitious than initially envisioned, resulting in it being released as a standalone game. Having completed it, I feel confident in saying that while it does lift quite a lot from the last title, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is an exhilarating adventure from beginning to end.

Naughty Dog have always set benchmarks for Sony hardware and I have to admit, I wasn’t sure The Lost Legacy would push the PS4 harder than last year’s title. It just felt too soon to expect another jaw dropping Uncharted adventure. Taking place entirely in India, it isn’t the same globe-trotting adventure 4 was; it’s definitely smaller in scope. Yet the team didn’t put any less effort into making it as polished as a traditional entry. Looking out over the untamed Indian jungle with no pop-in is an absolute treat, and traversing the large, open environments didn’t cause any noticeable frame dips on PS4 Pro.

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With Nathan Drake’s story all wrapped up, Uncharted gets a new face. Returning from her absence in A Thief’s End, Chloe makes her playable debut. In the past, Chloe’s quick wit and silver tongue added flavour, but there was always an air of mystery to her. The way Naughty Dog takes this fan favourite character and deepens her through their (now trademark) fusion of quiet offhand comments and explosive cinematics, is nothing short of masterful. What stood out to me in particular was the way that they were able to tie Chloe’s backstory into the overarching theme of Uncharted 4 in a very subtle, yet poignant way that I don’t want to spoil.

Joining Chloe on her adventure is Nadine, one of the primary antagonists of Uncharted 4. However, unlike companions in previous titles Nadine and Chloe aren’t pals, or even acquaintances. In fact, the game revels in the pair’s differences. Chloe is impulsive and chatty, whereas Nadine is sensible and cool headed. This makes their awkward pairing unique when compared to previous buddies in the series, and their friendship feels all the more earned as a result.

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The Lost Legacy’s story has Chloe and Nadine searching for the fabled tusk of Ganesh. However, a civil war is waging in India and the Insurgency’s corrupt leader wishes to use the tusk as a tool for rallying the country’s people behind him. It’s not all that complicated, but the way both Chloe and Nadine’s personal motives tie into the narrative, make it all the more compelling.

In a typical Uncharted game your time is generally spent among three things: climbing, shooting, and solving puzzles. The Lost Legacy retains a perfect balance between these few, this time focussing more on exploration and puzzle-solving. So while the combat is still just as great as David said in his original review, it feels like you’re spending much more time traversing the environment, stumbling across secrets and solving elaborate puzzles.

One of David’s only criticisms in his original review of Uncharted 4 was the game’s reliance on having very simple box puzzles to break up the platforming. Generally this was referring to a couple spots in the game where you would approach a ledge that was just of reach, only to find a movable box nearby to work as a makeshift platform. It felt lazy. Although it made little impact on the game as a whole, Naughty Dog still felt the need to approach the concern. Early on in the adventure the critique is referenced in a very tongue in cheek manner and it sets the tone for the rest of the adventure.

Being a kind of standalone expansion to 4, we see the return of a lot of mechanics introduced in it. The grappling hook has yet to get old, but taking the spotlight this time around is the return of the jeep. Just as before, the jeep would have to be the best vehicle I’ve driven in a game, feeling more like an extension of your character. The way it handles and gains traction on different surfaces is spot on and makes traversing the Indian jungle a breeze.

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It’s in this open world-esque portion of the game that The Lost Legacy takes the series beyond simple collectable trinkets. They’re still here, but scattered about the open world portion of the game there are special coins that (once all eleven are collected) unlock a very useful item for completionists. This was my favourite part of the game because unlike the scripted discoveries made during the story, it felt like I was the one stumbling across these treasures. It was a surprising addition to the Uncharted formula, and one that I hope to see return in future games.

The Lost Legacy makes very little attempt to distinguish itself from Uncharted 4, and while that is understandable for an expansion, as a standalone game it innovates very little. You’ll recognise certain cinematic set-pieces from the last title, and although they are familiar they’re still just as fantastic and suitably blood pumping. It might not have the same emotional payoff that its predecessor had, but The Lost Legacy’s final act was one of the most exhilarating climaxes I’ve ever played. It was a constant escalation, a high speed, adrenaline charged leap from one set piece to another.

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Taking roughly 8 hours to complete, it’s not the longest title in the series, but Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is the culmination of everything Naughty Dog has learned working on the franchise. It’s a gorgeous, tightly constructed game that doesn’t bring a whole lot of fresh ideas to the table, but improves upon everything introduced in Uncharted 4. In the end, as The Lost Legacy stormed towards its conclusion. I couldn’t stop a big, dumb smile creeping across my face. If this is what Uncharted looks like post-Nathan Drake, I honestly don’t mind.

Twitter @JTCotterr

Cotter is a key writer at OK Games Australia. He is a fan of RPGs, strong narratives and whatever it is that Kingdom Hearts tries to pass off as a plot. While admittedly a bit of a PlayStation fanboy, he endeavours to bring an enthusiastic take to the medium he's so passionate about. Unfortunately, no one calls him by his real name because we already have one of those.