There’s something special about Naughty Dog. There one of the few developers who appear to prefer quality over quantity. Unlike many others, they cut to the core of what a modern audience’s narrative perception is driven by. Cinema.
Sitting down to a Naughty Dog game is like a trip to the movies. They posses an almost unrivalled talent in crafting emotionally engaging video games, packed with fluid and well crafted action sequences and seamlessly integrated, brilliantly directed cut scenes. Their levels play out like dramatic discourses, their stories revealing their secrets over time. You’re positioned with the protagonist, uncovering the mysteries that lie ahead.
The quality of writing and editorial pace is always something special. The pre-title sequence in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is testament to this, giving us the high action taster before taking us back into Drake’s past, weaving the emotional brotherly bond necessary to set up the main plot. It’s arranged like a TV series.
If Uncharted 4 was the Netflix box-set, then The Last Of Us is the greatest post-apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster never filmed. Its a masterpiece of game lighting. The script is expertly pitched. The voice acting is exceptional. Naughty Dog are pretty much all over it.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
With Nathan Drake out of the picture for the time being, we fill the boots of Chloe Frazer, who first appeared in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on a quest to find the mythical horn of Hindu God Ganesh, that, as the ancient story goes, was cut from him with an axe gifted by Shiva to his son Parashurama, the axe-wielding incarnation of Vishnu, protector of world whenever it’s threatened.
Frazer, brilliantly played by Claudia Black of Farscape fame, is a more than adequate replacement for Drake. She has a tempered view on things, a sarcastic whit and some Daddy issues. The game opens to Chloe buying fabric in an Indian market. She is approached by a young girl, the shopkeeper’s daughter, who has been left to tend to the shop while her Father is off fighting somewhere. It’s in this scene that some lovely little narrative set-ups are made. Small nuggets that expand and become obstacles for the characters to navigate later in the game. In short it’s another brilliant script.
Along for the ride is Nadine Ross (Laura Bailey), making her second consecutive appearance after being introduced in A Thief’s End. There’s a great little power play between the two, as they jostle in a quite uncomfortable situation, neither totally trusting the other, but both able to find compromise to get the job done. Their conversations are entertaining and full of leading narrative suggestions that only made me want to go back and play the earlier titles. There conversations are brilliantly balanced, nestled sweetly between main plot points.
As they craft a working relationship we become increasingly concerned with the power of the game’s evil villain Asav (Usman Ally), who seeks the tusk for his own diabolical reasons. The Third Act addition of Sam Drake is a real touch, giving the game a great mix up and break the dramatic tension as he and Nadine have to work out their previous issues.
After making our way out of the city in an action packed opening gambit, we find ourselves in the wilderness, driving around in a rental car, winching things open and collecting trinkets derivative of the latter parts of U4. What a beautiful world it is. The design in Lost Legacy is truly stunning. Glorious Indian mountains, enormous mythical statues and one epic underground city. It’s truly glorious to behold and more than makes up for the occasionally janky controls.
The action is what is to be expected and is a whole lot of fun as you can approach situations in a variety of ways. The initial treasure hunt gives us a relatively open world, albeit with not very much to do in it, it’s small enough to not get on your nerves completing the objectives that are there. After this first act though it gets back on a more familiar linear track and feels all the better for it. The puzzles of the underground Hoysala are tremendous and harken back to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I’ve heard it said that Uncharted 4 was a little too long. I can understand that perception. Uncharted: Lost Legacy is not. It’s brilliant paced and I got through it in two afternoons which only left me wanting more from Cloe, Nadine and Sam. They form a great trio and I could happily sit through another Uncharted action drama with them for company.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a brilliantly entertaining, gloriously designed and expertly delivered work of action cinema. It just so happens to be a game.