Since its inception, the Uncharted series has been focused on one man: treasure hunter Nathan Drake. But that changes next week with the release of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy on PS4. The spinoff has everything you’d expect from an Uncharted adventure: high-stakes drama, soaring jungle vistas, ancient tombs filled with secrets, and a few too many gunfights. But Drake’s smirking face is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the game stars long-time series side character Chloe Frazer, alongside Uncharted 4 antagonist Nadine Ross. The pair don’t change the way the game plays all that much, but the new faces help keep the aging Uncharted formula interesting for at least one more game.
The Lost Legacy takes place some time after the events of Uncharted 4. It opens with Chloe — who series veterans will remember dating all the way back to 2009’s Uncharted 2 — in a war-torn Indian city. As part of her search for an ancient relic being held by a notorious militia leader, Chloe partners with Nadine, a former mercenary who has found herself without an army to lead following the events of the previous game. The early moments of Lost Legacy do a great job of separating the game from its predecessors, at least visually. The garbage-strewn city streets are a striking contrast to the lush jungles and ancient temples you typically explore in Uncharted. It’s a dark, harsh-looking place, accented by glaring neon signs in bright purples, pinks, and yellows. As Chloe, you’ll find yourself avoiding the gaze of patrolling soldiers in claustrophobic streets, and bounding across rooftops like some kind of superhero.
But things start to feel more familiar once the quest really gets started. As is the way in Uncharted, the relic Chloe is in search of is actually a key to finding a long-lost city, one thought to hold an even greater treasure called the “Horn of Ganesh.” As soon as you leave the city and head out into the wilderness, The Lost Legacy starts to look a lot like Uncharted 4 — almost identical in parts. You drive a similar-looking Jeep through similar-looking terrain, stopping at similar-looking ruins to fight off similar-looking armed soldiers. The structure remains almost entirely unchanged here. It’s a mix of light puzzle solving and exploration, with lengthy gun skirmishes tossed in. When you enter an area you can tell by looking at it whether you’ll spend the next 15 minutes climbing crumbling statues or ducking behind cover to shoot at waves of bad guys. It’s all well-worn territory at this point.
‘Uncharted’ is a roller coaster ride — but one filled with heart
That may sound like an indictment of the game, but nobody comes to Uncharted expecting surprise. It’s a series built on a foundation of cinematic cliches, from its stereotypical hero to its copious action movie-style set pieces. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t compelling. Uncharted has become a blockbuster series because it’s so incredibly well done. Even when you just know that the stone bridge will collapse beneath you, the ensuing death-defying escape will still make your heart pound. Developer Naughty Dog has an unparalleled ability to turn seemingly cookie cutter sequences into unforgettable moments. Uncharted is a roller coaster ride — but one filled with heart.
All of that is still true in The Lost Legacy. The game doesn’t stray from the formula at all, and if you loved Uncharted 4 — a game that, in my estimation, was the pinnacle of the series’ formula — then The Lost Legacy is simply more of the same. What helps keep it interesting is the new characters. Uncharted 4 introduced incidental dialogue to the series, as characters would chatter in the background while you drove through muddy streams or climbed precariously along the edge of a mountain. The Lost Legacytakes things a step further. The relationship between Chloe and Nadine forms naturally over the course of the game, primarily through that incidental dialogue found in the smaller, quieter moments when you’re doing things other than watching cut-scenes.