Uncharted: The Lost Legacy proves the series can go on without Nathan Drake

Here’s my quick and easy review of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

If you’ve played earlier Uncharted games and hated them, don’t play The Lost Legacy. There’s nothing here that is going to change your mind.

If you’ve never played an Uncharted game, don’t start with this one. Uncharted 1-3 are bundled for PS4 in The Nathan Drake Collection and Uncharted 4 came out on PS4. Play at least 2 & 4 first, probably 3 as well. Reason being the two main characters in this game, Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, first appeared in Uncharted 2 and 4 respectively, and they were on opposite sides. Chloe was an ally of Nathan Drake, Nadine was his enemy. While Nathan Drake isn’t in this game the characters’ history with him is part of the story.

If neither of the above applies to you, then you owe it to yourself to play The Lost Legacy. If you were concerned that an Uncharted game without Nathan Drake wouldn’t be as good, put your mind at rest. Chloe and Nadine are just as strong a pair of characters as we’ve ever seen in an Uncharted game.

To be fair, this is a shorter game. I clocked in about 8 and a half hours but I took my time and did some side activities that weren’t required. I’ve heard that folks who just play the main storyline are taking 6 hours or so. (This is why it debuted at $40 rather than $60.) I think the length works in the game’s favor though. The pacing is excellent.

The gameplay is the typical Uncharted mix of gunplay, puzzles (none of them super hard), climbing, driving, sliding, swinging and exploring improbably large ancient ruins filled with mechanisms that somehow still work after thousands of years. You’re in search of an artifact and in a race against the bad guy to get to it first. It’s definitely a formula that Uncharted players are very familiar with, but it’s just fun in an Indiana Jones kind of way. (If you’re not a Playstation gamer the closest series to Uncharted, in my mind, is the modern Tomb Raider franchise, but Uncharted is a lot less somber.) If Uncharted The Lost Legacy was a movie, it’d be a summer blockbuster filled with spectacle; something you just sit back and enjoy rather than spending a lot of time pondering the morality of what is happening (though without giving too much away there’s more morality pondering here than in most Uncharted games).

I felt like there was less gunplay than in most Uncharted games but that might be because I spent so much time exploring. Some pundits critique the Uncharted games because Nathon Drake racked up such a large body count but keep his light-hearted tone throughout. I guess that’s a fair critique and it happens here too, but no one ever bashed Han Solo for trading quips after blasting a dozen Storm Troopers. For the most part the Uncharted creators set things up so you never have to initiate lethal combat. You can sneak past enemies or take them down non-lethally, but sooner or later you’re bound to be detected and then the bad guys start shooting and throwing grenades (or worse) and you don’t have much choice other than pulling out a gun.

Personally I kind of enjoy the combat. It’s cover-based but you never seem to have quite enough ammo so you can’t just hunker down (plus a lot of cover degrades as enemies fire at you). So it’s find cover, take out a couple of guys, make a run for some ammo, repeat. Health regenerates when you’re not taking damage.

The puzzles you’ll encounter are again, very reminiscent of Indiana Jones (or the earlier Uncharted games). Aiming beams of light, aligning statues or shadows, sliding bits around to create a complete picture. That sort of thing. For me they were just the right difficulty. You had to pause and fiddle with them for a few minutes but it wasn’t like you felt you needed to jump online and look up a solution.

It’s strange to admit this, but I don’t really play Uncharted games for the gameplay. I play them for the story and the spectacle and the characters, and Uncharted The Lost Legacy has these three things in spades. The locations are ASTOUNDINGLY beautiful, and watching Chloe and Nadine try to come to trust each other is endearing. There are so many little details, and please do try to snag all the optional conversations that pop up. My favorite detail: when you die in an Uncharted game, the screen washes out to black and white and another character will call out your name followed by “Noooo!” or something like that. Early in the game when you die Nadine yells “Frazer! Noooo!” but after traveling together for a while, going through the ups and downs of their new friendship, she eventually starts yelling “Chloe!!! Nooooo!!!!”

It’s a little tiny detail but it really warmed my heart. I just loved this game and damn did Claudia Black (Chloe) and Laura Bailey (Nadine) absolutely nail it, as did the writers. The banter between them is as good as you’ll find in any buddy movie.

Up until this week Horizon Zero Dawn was my personal game of the year, but now I feel a bit conflicted. Trying to choose between it and The Lost Legacy is like trying to choose a favorite child. They’re both remarkable games.