When Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was announced I was extremely excited to continue adventuring in this universe, but this time as Chloe Frazer, first introduced in Uncharted 2. Chloe, voiced by Claudia Black, is a brilliant thief and treasure hunter and one of my favorite of the series’ complex characters.
The game is fantastic as expected, but I felt that the studio took too few chances, essentially re-skinning a Nathan Drake story with Chloe as the lead. While I played through the game with gusto and enjoyed every minute of it, I can’t help thinking there was a bit of a wasted opportunity here.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy follows Chloe’s quest to find the Tusk of Ganesh, an artifact of ancient Indian origins that her father obsessed over for years. Chloe is joined by Nadine Ross, one of the lead villains from Uncharted 4, who was an unwitting pawn in that story and now is recruited by Chloe to help find the Tusk. Chloe and Nadine are a fantastic duo and as the story unfolds so does their back-and-forth relationship. There is some mistrust between them, which evolves over the course of the game in a satisfying way that I truly enjoyed experiencing.
The companionship between these two incredibly strong characters is what I liked most about The Lost Legacy. When they are traveling, fighting, or climbing mountains they are often talking and comparing notes in a way that is natural and refreshingly revealing. Chloe in particular is fleshed out in a way I was not expecting, showing her as much more compassionate and caring then previously revealed.
While this is a very heroic turn I can’t help thinking that it could have been very interesting to have a different take on treasure hunting, where the morals are a little more grey. Instead Naughty Dog weaved us a backstory that puts Chloe in line with the other characters in the series and gives us a likable safe hero instead of one more nuanced and complicated.
Regardless of the safe approach taken with the heroes of this tale, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is terrifically fun to play, though it comes off feeling very familiar despite some slightly new mechanics. The combat, traversal, and puzzles are all taken from the same blueprint as the main Uncharted series, with some minor open world mechanics and a simple lockpicking skill added to the mix. After Chloe and Nadine embark on their main quest there is a fairly open map that I could explore any way I wanted. There was a main goal but some optional side areas to explore which were interesting but left me frankly wanting much more.
The “open” areas of the map are simply that, open and free to explore in any order but limited in scope and containing puzzles to unlock tokens that, once collected, reveal a secret treasure. It’s a nice addition, but much like the gentrifying of Chloe’s character it felt like a safe one that offered some more exploration but nothing really new to the series. I would have like to see a more freestyle approach to the Uncharted systems. Hopefully this was an experiment that will lead to more freedom in future installments.
It may seem that I have a lot of issues with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, but the fact of the matter is I had a blast playing through the game from start to finish. The entirety of the experience is breathtaking; Naughty Dog once again shows they are masters at manipulating PlayStation hardware to show stunning visuals. The combat and exploration are always fun, especially the driving sequences and chases on trains or overland. The dialogue is exceptional and the story, while safe and not terribly groundbreaking, is a great ride as we learn more about Chloe and Nadine’s motivations. I was simply hoping for a more daring take on the Uncharted formula and instead I got a great game but more of the same that we expect from the series.