As we hummed along to the melancholy “this is the end” rendition of Nate’s theme that played as the Uncharted 4 credits rolled, we figured that was it for the series; So much so that there was harmonious accompaniment of the sound of a million Uncharted fans hearts breaking respectively. However, at PSX 2016, Naughty Dog showcased some pleasantly familiar gameplay. It wasn’t immediately evident as to who the protag was at first due to the head scarf shrouding her face. This was of course until alas we heard some muffled Aussie grunts as she stumbled through the intro sequence. Upon a full-face reveal, you could tell hope for Uncharted fans was restored once more; the dying flames in their hearts reignited as floods of cheers filled the venue. Yes, Naughty Dog unveiled their expansion to the Uncharted series, The Lost Legacy with sass-queen, Chloe Frazer taking up the role of protagonist at the forefront of the epic adventure. In her monumental debut, Naughty Dog shows us that the Uncharted series can survive without Nate hogging the limelight. Throughout the entirety of the title we see, Chloe own the leading role as if it was meant for her and she does so just as well as, if not better that, Drake. Seriously, step aside, Lara Croft for there’s a new archaeological huntress on the prowl.
At the heart of every Uncharted game is a heavily sought after ancient artifact and The Lost Legacy upholds this very same premise. We follow Chloe as she takes up a case her father obsessed over and goes on the hunt for the Tusk Of Ganesh – a renowned ancient Indian artifact from old Hindu fables. Of course, an Uncharted game would not uphold it’s rep if there wasn’t a crazed lunatic, or in this case ex-doc turned ruthless rebel, on the hunt for the very same artifact – enter, Asav. In her quest for the tusk, Chloe makes an unlikely ally of mercenary (and Uncharted 4 antagonist), Nadine Ross. Naughty Dog do not hesitate to boast the undeniable chemistry between these two fantastically written leading ladies right from the get go. The pair bounce off of each other from the very beginning and as the story ensues and the character development flows, they only continue to compliment each other more. We watch the pair grow together throughout the games proceedings, transforming awkward, witty small-talk into spontaneous and rather intense sentimental moments. It’s all so fluent and ultimately rather infectious. Furthermore, there’s more than a sufficient amount of banter to maintain the trademark comedy of the Uncharted series. See, we don’t need Drake and his bad puns.
The Lost Legacy is riddled with opportunities to appreciate the graphical expertise of Naughty Dog. It’s impossible not to be completely engulfed in the game’s gorgeous Indian setting. This is especially the case in it’s smaller scale, open-world chapter – a gameplay element introduced to the series in Uncharted 4. Every inch of this open-world portion of the game is thoroughly enticing. It leaves you refusing to leave any part unexplored; even if at some points the exploration ultimately feels a bit redundant. As enjoyable as it is soaking up the Naughty Dog’s visual handiwork, at times it can become irritating to scour vast open areas to return with nothing but an extra 15 minutes on your play time. For a title primarily focused on “action”, open-world elements really stagger the general pace of the game. The game feels less linear, the action feels bitty as it it fades in and out. It does bring into question if the incorporation of the feature is entirely appropriate. However, what The Lost Legacy lacks here, it compensates for in immersion. Thanks to Naughty Dog’s admirable attention to the finest of details, you can almost feel the humidity bleeding through your T.V screen as you navigate, Chloe through the hot, stuffy setting. Her strain under the relentless glare of the sun is evident in her character model that gets progressively sweatier after prolonged exposure. She’ll even occasionally have to run her hand through her hair to remove the damp fringe strands from her face. In cutscenes you notice Chloe’s hair is heavy with sweat on the nape of her neck and her skin glistens as her body desperately tries to endure the heat. I mean seriously, who needs a trip to India when The Lost Legacy practically takes you there to personally revel in all it’s historical brilliance.
Combat encounters are somewhat refreshing in Naughty Dog’s standalone title. You can tell the developers have abstained from a lazy re-skin of Nate’s animations and instead worked from the ground up. Chloe has her own fighting style, complete with feminine flare. Typically, most encounters require you to cower behind cover and gradually take down the enemy numbers. This is even more the case with the stealth element introduced vaguely in Uncharted 4. Although this is a great feature for helping you thin out hordes of enemies before engaging more officially, it seems a little half-hearted and as a result a little pointless. I mean without question, it’s great to have the opportunity to tip the scales of a seemingly less favourable encounter but it is a very long-winded process. Without the inability to whistle to coax mercenaries closer to initiate a stealth kill or hide the bodies of those you took out in plain sight, a good percentage of the time you’ll find yourself caught in the same spot of cover, trying to time stealth kills on guards that are moving erratically after becoming aware of body you left for all to see. As a result a lot of the time you invest into attempting to be stealthy feels a bit futile. I’m not completely knocking it though. For trophy hunters or more veteran players enduring a crushing playthrough, the ability to thin out the hordes of enemies looking to get that single shot on your mush as you stick it out of cover is a welcomed asset. Believe me, as someone who’s personally raged at this level of difficulty, I get the stealth integration can be helpful.
The Lost Legacy condenses every last bit of greatness from the past 4 titles into 8 hours of gameplay for half the price. It’s quite remarkable that in such a short amount of gameplay time we play through such intense action sequences, journey through and revel in the glory of the Indian wilderness and get to know such fantastically cast characters in such great depth. With elements being carried over from it’s predecessor, and frequent nods to past events from the previous games, The Lost Legacy emanates a homey sense of familiarity yet really holds it’s own identity as a standalone title. The story is rich, action-packed and wonderfully humorous much like every Uncharted title before it. Chloe is another fine display of Naughty Dog’s commendable ability to develop a strong, iconic female character. Furthermore, Naughty Dog have made sure we can capture every picturesque moment of the game thanks to it’s versatile photo mode. You can tamper with a mass of photographic settings in order to take some damn gorgeous screenshots. As much as this is great for keeping numerous memoirs of your first playthrough and showing off your photography skills, it’s a massive time sink, easily extending The Lost Legacy’s 8 hours worth of gameplay into at least double that.