Uncharted: The Lost Legacy Review (PlayStation 4)
For the longest time, the Uncharted series has strictly followed the adventures of Nathan Drake, a roguish treasure hunter as quick with a quip as he was with a gun. Last year, Nathan's story came to a close in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, but fans only had to wait a few weeks to learn the franchise's fate was not the same as Nate's. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was unveiled last summer, and arrives this year with heavy expectations. Not only does Lost Legacy expand on the world and characters of the series in smart, exciting ways, it also offers some of the best puzzles and adventure Uncharted has ever seen.
While Nathan Drake was gallivanting around the globe on numerous adventures over the past decade, we hadn't kept up with one of the series' most interesting characters, Chloe Frazer. Introduced in Uncharted 2, Frazer was clearly a Naughty Dog wink to Lara Croft, only if Lara didn't quite have the best moral compass. With her ponytail, accent, and ability to kick as much butt as any of the male treasure hunters, Chloe quickly became a fan-favorite character. After a brief appearance in Uncharted 3, she went away to live her own life far away from Nathan Drake.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy reunites us with the Indian-Australian hunter as she picks up the chase for an artifact that Chloe's father was absolutely obsessed with, Ganesha's Tusk. Frazer isn't the only one with eyes on the ancient artifact though, as a rather ambitious and ruthless man named Asav also has big plans for the sacred piece of Indian history. It's fortunate then that Chloe was able to enlist the help of Nadine Ross, fresh out of a job after the events of Uncharted 4, and eager to restore some of her reputation, Nadine Ross. The dynamic duo make for quite a team, when they aren't sniping at each other, and the buddy action movie vibe Lost Legacy presents is not only welcome, it's absolutely captivating.
Two characters working together throughout an Uncharted game isn't a new concept for the series, but Naughty Dog takes things a bit further with Lost Legacy making Chloe and Nadine a true tag-team. Both characters are active all the time, and work in tandem to tackle just about every objective in their paths. Though puzzle-solving is typically left to the player, who is always Chloe, Nadine is no slouch in combat and complements Chloe's skills with a gun and fists quite nicely.
The story takes players through some of the most beautiful locations in an Uncharted game, with the bulk of Lost Legacy exploring the Western Ghats of India. There's a civil war raging, and Asav is hoping to capitalize on the conflict by purging his country of people he believes don't have the genetics to belong. It's a story that would hit hard in any age, but particularly in 2017, the villain's motivations being ridding his home of those he views as inferior speaks volumes in today's climate. Unintentional as those connections may be, they're still there, and they give this story higher stakes than earlier entries.
With Chloe herself being part Indian, there's great motivation for her to be on this adventure for more than just the gold at the end of the rainbow. It's also a chance for her to stick up for her heritage against those who would deny it. Lost Legacy also happens to be one of the more grounded Uncharted experiences, with no supernatural elements in play whatsoever. Naughty Dog is taking the straight path, and it does well to not diminish the seriousness of Asav's threats by also including undead guardians deep in the catacombs of the tombs Chloe and Nadine explore.
As heavy as the plot does get at points, it's balanced rather well by some of that tried-and-true Uncharted gameplay. Working off the additions included in Uncharted 4, like the grappling hook and new stealth mechanics, players will find a lot of familiarity in how Lost Legacy approaches its action sequences. There's a lot of cover-based shooting, big explosions, solid and simple melee, and challenging enemies to fight. Sure, there are new guns to use and the enemies have some slightly different outfits, but Naughty Dog stuck with what worked before for Lost Legacy.
There are some new elements in play however, such as Nadine and Chloe having some great tag combat in melee. There are a number of different combinations the two will pull off at random based on who they're fighting and what kind of trouble they're in. Chloe also has the ability to pick locks, which comes in handy when you spot supply crates throughout the Western Ghats. By breaking into Asav's army's stores, Chloe can vastly upgrade her arsenal and stay well equipped for any fight she and Nadine encounter.
Where Lost Legacy truly sets itself apart from the rest of the franchise is in the puzzles Chloe will have to solve in order to find the Tusk. The Uncharted games have always had some solid puzzles involved, but none were every too taxing on the brain. That's still true here, as you don't want to make the challenge in an action game too extensive for players, but you do want to make them think just a little. Several of the puzzles you'll encounter deal with matching or rearranging pieces to make a complete image, but it's the giant mechanical puzzles that you find in the Ghats that are the most memorable. To say much more would spoil the fun, but needless to say, these segments were among the most fun challenges we've played in the series to date.
Even with all that in mind, Uncharted as a series has always been about the characters, and Lost Legacy does not disappoint in the least. The writing is as sharp and poignant as ever, and Claudia Black and Laura Bailey do incredible jobs as Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, respectively. Without Usman Ally as Asav however, the entire plot may not have been anywhere near as compelling. Ally's performance is a bit frightening at times, but he never verges on comical or being over-the-top. There's a seriousness there that is impressive to witness, and as a man that's after more than just a treasure, he's easily one of the most dangerous and believable antagonists in an Uncharted game.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy had a lot to live up to given the pedigree of the franchise to this point. Being the coda of sorts for the series also stacked the deck against Lost Legacy a bit, but Naughty Dog has delivered another impeccable game that stands among the best in its library. Lost Legacy takes all of the positives of the series and combines them with protagonists that bring a fresh take on adventure to the series. We can only hope that this isn't the end of Chloe's and Nadine's stories, as the world of Uncharted is ripe for more exploration, and these two leads are more than up to the task of carrying the torch.
This review is based on a copy of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy provided by the publisher for PlayStation 4.