In the interests of full disclosure, I’m quite the fan of the Uncharted Series, and I’ve generally loved my time with each and every one of the franchise’s Games – even the Vita one (#sorrynotsorry etc, etc). They’re not perfect, by any means, but I think the series has frequently set a benchmark for Action/Adventure Gaming, and I think Naughty Dog consistently bring a little som’thin-som’thin to interactive fiction in a way other studios would – if they’re being honest – love to emulate with the same degree of consistency. The flip side to that, of course, is that I went into Uncharted: The Lost Legacy with relatively high expectations which – if I’m being honest – were possibly unfairly high for what is, essentially, closer to DLC than it is a full game. As you’ll have prob’ly guessed from my title though, not only were those expectations met, but even quite possibly exceeded, and to such an extent that The Lost Legacy, despite its being relatively short, may actually be my favouritest entry in an already favourite-y series.
Well, if you’ll be kind enough to give me a few(ish) minutes of your time, I’ma get on explaining that right now, innit!?
To start with – and on an admittedly subjective note – my first favourite-y thing can be summed up in just three words: Chloe freakin’ Frazer. Indeed, back when I was writing about the first three Uncharted Games and making (hit and miss, as it turns out) predictions for the fourth, I specifically said I wanted to see more of Chloe Frazer in the last main Uncharted Game. That didn’t really happen and it felt like a real blow, not least because Chloe deserved a fitting send off, and because she’s one of Gaming’s bestest ever characters. Imagine how overjoyed I was to discover, therefore, that not only was Chloe in The Lost Legacy, but that she was the star of the murrrrfuckin’ show!! Huzzah, huzzah and thricely huzzah, said I (I mean, I didn’t – I actually screamed like a kid on Christmas morning, but that was roughly the sentiment I was aiming for!!). Honestly, I was genuinely overjoyed that I’d get to actually freakin’ play as Chloe freakin’ Frazer, and I was possibly more excited about The Lost Legacy than I was about A Thief’s End. Scratch that, I was definitely more excited.
Indeed, that element right there (actually getting to freakin’ play as Chloe freakin’ Frazer, ICYMI) will be a recurring theme in this piece, and not least because it turns The Lost Legacy up to 11 and then… get this… continues on to 12 (Yeah, I went there!!). She’s the foundation on which The Lost Legacy is built; the bedrock which allows every other individually excellent aspect of the game to be expanded upon, creating an everlasting monument to one of Gaming’s bestest ever characters. Ever. The inclusion of Nadine is made better because she bounces off Chloe and because together they make up one of Gaming’s most believable and well-rounded duos; the climbing bits are infinitely more bearable because they come with added Chloe wisecracks; and, more importantly, the whole Narrative package of The Lost Legacy is made better because it’s Chloe’s story and because she’s one of Gaming’s bestest ever characters. Ever. I’ve mentioned that already, right!? Anyways, in short, I loved every minute I was actually freakin’ playing as Chloe freakin’ Frazer, and I’ma love Naughty Dog forever for giving me that opportunity.
Outside of all the Chloe Frazer stuff, The Lost Legacy is still a great game too – so if you’re slowly backing out of the room because this is all getting a bit awkward, you can come back now. If you’re a fan of the Uncharted Games (but not, for whatever reason, Chloe freakin’ Frazer) you’ll still find plenty of the stuff you love in The Lost Legacy. For sure, it’s a condensed, tightly-packed Uncharted Game, but it still manages to squeeze in just about everything that makes the series so damn enjoyable, and it’s all wrapped up in Naughty Dog’s unnatural gift for great storytelling.
And on that Storytelling, The Lost Legacy is, in many ways, a much subtler, more restrained story than previous entries in the franchise – but that’s actually a good thing, I think. Gone is the expansive globetrotting adventure, supernatural woo and Armageddon-ey bombast, and instead The Lost Legacy replaces it all with a much more localised and personal story. Or set of stories really. The length, Gameplay and Narrative aspects of the game all work together in tandem to create an inherently more focused and affecting tale, and I found it all mahoosively compelling. Sure, you’ll be a-treasure huntin’ – it is an Uncharted Game afterall – but the treasure is merely a facilitator here; a means to explore Chloe and Nadine’s own stories, and to develop the dynamic between them. As such, I found myself invested in the Narrative of The Lost Legacy in a way which surpassed that of the other games, and that in turn made the entire journey considerably more memorable and enthralling.
The treasure in question is Ganesh’s Tusk, and you’ll be searching for it in an India in the midst of civil war. Indeed, the bad-guy-intent-on-domination you’ll be racing against in pursuit of that treasure is the leader of the rebel faction in that war, and that immediately plays into the localised and personal aspects I’ve just mentioned. Chloe returning to her childhood home, and going up against the guy trying to tear it apart straight-up make this a more emotive beast, and that’s expounded upon exponentially as you (the player) gradually realise you’re searching for a Treasure that has had a profound impact on the way Chloe’s life has turned out. Studiously avoiding *SPOILERING SHIT UP* and whatnot, it’ll turn out it’s a treasure her father was obsessed with, and that obsession is itself integral to Chloe’s whole story. For me, this all worked exceptionally well because this narrative device was simultaneously augmenting The Lost Legacy’s story and Chloe’s own backstory, and that was an extra special, extra effective twofer! Or one-two rabbit punch to the feelz, if you’d prefer. Anyways, whatever you want to call it, it works spectacularly.
As an aside to emphasise that, after only a few minutes of The Lost Legacy I was genuinely worried Naughty Dog may’ve (unwittingly?) made a bit of a faux pas in that the game landed as-near-as-damn-it 70 years to the day after the partition of India/Pakistan. With its themes of internal strife, factional brutality etc, and the timing of its release, there was a pretty big chance everything could be open to accusations of, at the very least, gross insensitivity – but, to my relief, that’s not the case, and it’s not the case precisely because it’s all handled with maturity and sensitivity. Phew, right!?
Anyhoo, to aid her in that quest, Chloe’s drafted in Nadine Ross – yeah, the Nadine Ross last seen heading up a company of mercs in A Thief’s End – and initially at least, that adds a degree of tension and drama to the proceedings. There’s a mutual distrust at first, with both women seeing each other as a means to their own respective ends, and acutely aware of the less-than-ideal aspects of the pairing. That’ll eventually give way to a grudging admiration and respect, get sidetracked with more mistrust, before eventually developing into a bona fide and genuinely special friendship. It’s not an original trajectory, for sure, but it’s done brilliantly, and honestly, the chemistry between Chloe and Nadine is up there with the best I’ve ever seen, in any form of media.
And that, in turn, highlights the superlative nature of The Lost Legacy’s construction. The acting of Claudia Black (Chloe) and Laura Bailey (Nadine) is absolutely fucking superb, and it’s aided by the quality of the game’s graphics and animation. I’ve played the game through twice now, and the subtle little expressions and nuances of tone are mesmerising – not only am I not skipping cutscenes, I’m positively looking forward to them. Like I’ve already mentioned, Chloe and Nadine make up one of Gaming’s most believable and well-rounded duos, and their mutual journey of discovery and, ultimately, redemption is as close to perfection as I’ve seen in any Game narrative yet. Seriously, it’s that good.
Finally, in terms of Gameplay I think The Lost Legacy gets it all pretty much spot-on too (with one exception that I’ll come to at the end). In many ways, the Game’s a “Greatest Hits” entry into the Uncharted Series, and there’s a definite feeling that Naughty Dog have included the best elements of the series whilst also learning their lessons from what hasn’t worked so well in the past (and/or tightening up on some of the more frequent bugbears). I think there’s a better balance of all the climbing/exploring/driving/combat shenanigans, and there’s a continuation of the freedom to go in guns blazing vs stealth that worked well in Uncharted 4. All told, all of this keeps The Lost Legacy feeling both familiar and new, and that’s a combination that really works.
There’s also a decent balance of linear and free-roam too, thanks to one particular level which allows you to not only complete it in whatever order you see fit (and indeed as much as you’d like, with some features/puzzles being optional) but also however you see fit thanks to that Stealth vs all out Shooty-Shooty thing. The puzzles also hit the sweetspot of ‘requiring a bit of thinking but not being frustratingly vague or obtuse’ too, and I thought they added to the Game without ever feeling like they were just tacked on for the sake of it, which in turn kept with the feeling of everything flowing along nicely, and maintained an overall sense of balance.
Mechanically, I found everything much more polished and refined as well, and there was little-to-none of the frustration I’d had with some of the previous games. This was most evident in combat and climbing, which I felt were both smooth and responsive experiences, and the cases of me screaming “that’s not where I told you to fucking jump/shoot you fucking muppet” were blessedly few and far between. On a personal note, the inclusion of a silenced pistol was an inspired touch because a) it’s super fucking cool anyways and, b) Uncharted + Happy Memories of Goldeneye is pretty damn close to Gaming perfection, innit!? Again, all told, my overall experience of the Gameplay and Mechanics was great and, moreover, it left me with the distinct impression that The Lost Legacy was the cumulative result of a decade’s worth of a franchise sharpening and honing its identity, and that was a very satisfying feeling indeed.
And – in conclusion – that’s my overall experience of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Almost every aspect of it felt like the culmination of Naughty Dog’s years of experience, and consequently it’s something really rather special. Each individual element of The Lost Legacy is great on its own, but combined they create goddam fucking magic. The biggest jewel in that already blinged out crown is, undoubtedly, Chloe freakin’ Frazer, and from her everything else falls into place in a way that’s truly exceptional – and a joy to behold. This was the outing Chloe Frazer deserved, for sure, and that – plus a myriad of other factors – make this a strong contender for the title of bestest ever Uncharted Game.
In fact, my only complaint is that it still left me wanting more. Yes, the relative brevity of The Lost Legacy helps keep things tight and focused in some respects, I get that, but I was still genuinely sad when it was all over precisely because I felt like I could’ve kept playing The Lost Legacy forever. I sincerely hope we haven’t seen the last of Chloe and Nadine, and if you happen to be reading Naughty Dog-ey people – please, pleeeeeeease can we have more of this.
TL; DR – Chloe freakin’ Frazer, innit!?