Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
28 August 2017
When Uncharted 4’s Season Pass was detailed, there was a promise of a single-player DLC. Apparently, that DLC kept getting bigger and bigger that it is now it’s own $40 USD (or RM149 for us Malaysians) standalone game. The deal is still being honoured for Season Pass owners- they’re getting it free.
While the previous development leads for Uncharted 4 are working on the next The Last Of Us, it’s time for a new team with new co-directors, Kurt Margenau and Shaun Escayg, to take up the mantle of telling a new Uncharted story from a new perspective.
Thankfully, they have greatly craft an experience that a person like me, who skipped Uncharted 4 after being burnt out of the prior three games’ formulaic structure, could love. Albeit with a shorter running time.
Graphics & Sound
As expected, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a looker. It is the same engine that powered last year’s Uncharted 4 and it still looks great from afar and up close. Background environments look lovely from afar and 3D models are immaculate upon close inspection, especially the characters. You could see scratches on protagonist Chloe Frazer’s hands as the camera zooms into her smartphone, all scratched up.
The Lost Legacy takes place solely in India this time rather than the globe-trotting nature of the numbered titles and the developers really did their homework with the setting. The market scene at the start of the game is lively in the right way, it’s what one would imagine India would be in general but with little details that showed more than you would expect.
And when the adventure takes you deep into the jungle, the graphics still holds up. The ancient ruins that you’ll discover are majestic to look, even Chloe can’t help but snap some pictures on her smartphone. The foliage and other background effects can look a bit iffy on screen but looks great on screenshots. And yes, there’s a photo mode for those who love to hit the Share button.
Also, the animation deserves mention. There’s a lot of nuance expressions thanks to performance capture that brings live to each character, especially during cutscenes. I’m also impressed when I saw characters can climb over each other on ledges and do team-up attacks. Seeing guns being placed to the back not by sheer video game logic but with straps is already impressive, but seeing Chloe pull said gun and placing beside her seat as she hops on a 4X4 is a whole other level. Naughty Dog has a bunch of great animators, and also plenty of outsourced talents (including two studios from Malaysia- Passion Republic and Lemon Sky) that could afford doing stuff like this.
Of course, the voice acting of the cast is good as expected, even the goons that will haplessly be murdered by you are well voiced, with appropriate accents too.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is the first game to explore the series without Nathan Drake as its leading man. The star of the show is one Chloe Frazer, who is now working with Nadine Ross, debuted in last year’s game as one of the antagonists, to find the Tusk Of Ganesh. The journey will not only uncover the lost legacy of the Hoysala Empire, but also the personal legacy of our new leading woman as well as seeing the two ladies develop their unlikely partnership.
The story takes place after the events of Uncharted 4. Though I haven’t played it yet, it didn’t hamper my experience in following the story whatsoever. The story in The Lost Legacy can stand on its own, but if you’ve played the previous game, there are callbacks that I believe would bring a bigger impact.
The development team may be newly formed, but these folks showed that they have a complete understanding how the Uncharted formula works. A bit of platforming, a bit of combat (with the option to go full stealth), a bit of puzzles, some historical lore, character building, and big set-pieces.
But what makes it all work is how much a bit of each of these components are sprinkled in. The pacing is great. Combat is introduced slowly before it all escalated into an explosive finish. You get longer time with exploration- basically puzzle solving and platforming sequences- which opens for more character building moments. It shifts its gears at the right time. Nothing felt too padded, every chapter of the game feels meaningful.
Speaking of chapters, shout out to the one chapter that basically is one open world level. It’s how you imagine if Uncharted is an open world at just the right size.
Combat encounters have become more varied since I last played Uncharted. The encounters allows you to use many of your traversal movements to sneak up and slowly take all the goons down or go engage in firefights. It’s not a cover shooter anymore, cover is best used only to regain health. Enemies will move and flank you if you stay in one spot for too long.
The elaborate animations do hinder a bit here- I find the controls a bit fiddly in high-pressure moments as I can’t get Chloe to latch on the right ledge or move to the side of cover I wanted. Possibly it’s just me still a bit rusty, but it deserved a mention.
And there were a few bugs I encountered where all the interactables couldn’t be triggered which hindered progress (one quick load to a previous save thankfully fixed that).
Throughout your journey you’ll be accompanied by Nadine. Like many buddy AIs in Naughty Dog’s games, she served as a way for character banter and can help you out in specific moments. There’s one puzzle that she helped me find and activate some buttons I would miss, and she can do tag-team melee combos during fights. It’s not truly robust, however. She doesn’t help taking down goons in the stealth sections and some of parts where she did some helping are just pre-scripted moments.
Content & Longevity
Let’s get it out of the way, The Lost Legacy is a short experience. Yes, it is getting marked down a bit due to its 7-9 hours length, but I believe having it short is to its benefit. The whole experience feels much more tight and nicely paced.
Plus, it focuses on the things I wanted out of an Uncharted game: more about grandiose adventure into ruins of old civilisation, less of the bombastic set-pieces. But each element gets to stand out stronger thanks to excellent pacing. If the game time is any longer, it would be just feel like filler.
Finishing the game will then unlock the ability to use bonuses on your subsequent run through the game like cheats and graphical filters. You can play certain chapters again, but more importantly, play certain enemy encounters again for folks who love the combat. There’s tons of collectibles to collect too.
And that’s not all. If you didn’t have Uncharted 4, the multiplayer suite from that game is all included here in its full. That includes the co-op Survival Mode as well. So The Lost Legacy can be a cheaper alternative to get Uncharted 4’s multiplayer if you haven’t played that yet.
But for those who played Uncharted 4 already but didn’t opt for the season pass, I’m not sure if you should hop to The Lost Legacy just for the single-player story so soon. It’s a great experience, but maybe not worth RM149 (unless you want to snag Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy for free by buying it early).
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy recaptures the strong formula of the series by changing the right things. The small freedom it gives to the player from the overtly linear sequences of the past makes for a refreshing experience. It is short, but that makes the whole journey feels so lovingly crafted.
It sure did convinced a relapsed Uncharted fan like me. Honestly, I once wished Naughty Dog would stop the series and go on and do new IPs. But if they can keep proving that it would be as good as The Lost Legacy, now I wouldn’t mind it as much- as long as it’s not one every year.
Review is based on version 1.03 of the game, played on a regular PS4. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Supplemental articles leading up to the review: Open World Level
Tight and well thought-out pacing
More freedom with plenty of non-linear sections
Strong character story
More interesting platforming sections
Tons of accessibility options and extra content
Access to Uncharted 4's Multiplayer and Survival Mode
Controls can be a bit fiddly
Main story clocks less than 10 hours