I’m a big fan of the recent Tomb Raider remakes. They offer a level of tension and fidelity that the older, more…polygonal titles couldn’t really handle. Oddly enough, though, I never cared that much for the extremely similar Uncharted, which felt a little too scripted for my taste. Still, I’m always open to giving a series a second chance, so when fate (i.e. the brass) offered me the chance to try Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, I jumped…and just barely grabbed a ledge, then clambered to another ledge before it broke.
This is the latest Uncharted game, a stand-alone expansion that offers a bit less content for a bit lower price. And, honestly, it did a lot to help change my mind about these games.
Chloe Frazer, who you might remember from Uncharted 2 and 3, stars in this adventure, teaming up with badass Uncharted 4 antagonist Nadine Ross to search for a mysterious Indian artifact. The Tusk of Ganesh is hidden somewhere in the ruins of an ancient Indian capital, and Frazer and Ross must do the usual Uncharted routine of uncovering ancient mysteries, solving long-forgotten puzzles and clambering all over places of historic significance in order to find it. As a standalone expansion to Uncharted 4, this adventure is both shorter and less pricey than a main-series game at around 8 hours for $40.
That’s not to say this is anything but a full-fledged Drake-style romp, though. Frazer plays much like Nathan Drake; she might be a tad more agile but it doesn’t really come through in gameplay. You’ve still got punching, shooting, grappling and climbing to worry about, along with the odd stealth section every now and again. Every so often there are puzzles that need solving; you’re typically given a little time to muddle these out yourself, but the game will eventually offer hints if you’re taking embarrassingly long, which is a nice touch. The open-world vehicle action from Uncharted 4 is also present and accounted for here, including secrets to discover if you keep your eyes open.
It’s a nice bite-sized chunk of Tomb Raider-style action, in other words. As mentioned, I haven’t been the biggest fan of the Uncharted series because I find the games tend to feel a bit like extended quicktime events; the game ends up appearing more open than it is, in other words, and if you diverge from the intended path then you’re killed and have to start over until you get it right. Perhaps this has changed over the years, but I found I had a little more freedom in deciding what Frazer would do in a given situation, including what appeared to be multiple routes through various chase scenes. This being the case, I found Lost Legacy to be a little more appealing than previous entries in the series.
I also found myself enjoying Frazer as a main character a bit more than Drake; she has a bit of moral ambiguity and snark about her, not unlike Catwoman, that suits the graverobbing, ruin-exploding nature of Uncharted. Her banter with Ross is also endearing, particularly regarding the latter’s reluctance to engage in the usual Uncharted staples like clambering up giant, unstable structures. They make for a great duo in the same vein as Drake and Sully and it’s easy to imagine a full-length adventure centered on these characters.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is still very much Uncharted, so of course it’s beautiful; wide, gorgeous Indian vistas are the order of the day. You’ve got a photo mode here that allows Frazer to stop and take selfies at the least appropriate moments possible, which is a nice touch. Graphics, sound and control are all top notch, as to be expected from a headlining series from one of the Big Three. While the game looks just fine on the regular PS4, if you’ve been waiting on a true centerpiece to show off the power of your PS4 Pro, you’ve got it right here.
All in all, I may have misjudged the modern entries of the Uncharted series. Rather than just being a movie that you happened to control bits of, I found myself appreciating the level of freedom I had in approaching set pieces and helping Frazer battle off bad guys. This feels like a real adventure, one that you’ve got some actual agency in and, frankly, a journey that’s worth taking