Uncharted: Lost Legacy

After the disappointment of Uncharted 4, I was honestly not looking forward to the next entry. A standalone DLC chapter staring one character I enjoyed from the second and third game, and another from the fourth entry who was as bland as a white piece of bread, seemed like an odd combination. However, I was a bit more positive when I found out that this game would have two new directors, hopefully not trying to make the game overly dark and mistake a mature tone for a childish one. I am not expecting gold here, but at least something of value.


A good bond, but nothing else is tied well together

While visiting India, Chloe Frazer is on the hunt to find the legendary tusk of Ganesh and has contacted a mercenary, Nadine Ross, to be her hired soldier. Unfortunately, they are not alone on this search. An insurgent leader of rebels and military soldiers known as Asav is also looking for the same treasure, to the point of string up the town in order to make a civil war take place. It becomes a race to get the hands on the treasure first, and hopefully take down Asav in the process.

Lost Legacy starts with a terrible introduction. There are some neat atmospheric tensions where you see how civilians are affected by the unnerving situation, but this is short-lived and the rest is filled with characters that only gets a second of screen time, with you walking at an incredibly slow pace. This makes it hard to get immersed when you are forced to move at a low speed, since it clearly limits your abilities in order to force in the events going on.

The meeting with Asav, the clear-cut villain, is also uninteresting as his motives are unclear from the start. This could surely have been done to make him more intimidating as a madman, but it is poorly handled with an uneven setup that is not creative or intriguing. The story ends with a twist that anyone can see coming from miles away, due to it being obvious and cliche. This is a shame as there seems to have been a good concept to make Asav an intelligent, yet unsettling force to be reckoned with. Sadly, the game never goes far enough to make him impactful or fascinating.

On a positive note, the treasure hunt revolving a religious tale is partly interesting. It is hard to create a clear connection between the clues, due to how they and the overall lore are focused on the theology and symbolisms themselves instead of those directly involved with the scriptures historically. This makes everything loosely tied together, including the story’s chapters. However, I am happy that the developers chose something more original and showed clear respect for the theories revolving around this religion. It is somewhat different, but a nice change of pace.

What was the most surprising about this adventure, actually has to do with our female duo. Chloe is a strong character that is sarcastic, but never spiteful, and her personality shines in this instalment thanks to her being a good contrast to Nadine. I actually despised this character in Uncharted 4, as Nadine seemed only to be there to add a strong female character to the story, but the creators forgot to give her a personality.

Here, she actually serves a purpose for good storytelling as she has had issues with Drake’s family in contrast to Chloe, and she is made further memorable by how the game showcases her strength and weaknesses through her traits of being direct and strong-minded. I really love how fleshed out Nadine is in this instalment, and it also makes for some witty and funny dialogues between her and Chloe. Seeing these two characters interact makes the journey entertaining and it was always charming whenever the story focused on these two. Even another character from Uncharted 4 returns and has also gotten a better and distinct personality. While this addition provided nothing to Lost Legacy in terms of the plot, this character adds to the team’s dynamic and is mocked playfully. It really seems like the writers were self-aware of the fourth instalment’s poor story and characters.

Although, even the characters come with problematic setups. Chloe has a troubled past with her father that becomes heavily forced into the plot, and the game even includes a terrible tradition of the protagonists having to be angry at each other for shallow reasons. Both aspects are not just tiresome, but also quickly forgotten about. It genuinely was puzzling that these elements were even included. Why not instead focus on the introduction and have that be a theme to discuss throughout the game, instead of unnecessary cliches? Then the introduction would have served a better purpose.

While there are major issues with the story, the interactions between our main characters made it easier to put up with the rest. Thanks to clever writing and taking the time to develop them as individuals and as a duo, I got more invested in moments of distress where they were involved, such as collapsing buildings, climbing up mountains going wrong or the more action-packed scenes that makes me always surprised. I just wish the story made me care more about the overall danger and the journey itself, than just about the two characters’ safety. At least the religious lore can be intriguing, despite its unrefined inclusion.

Story Score: 3/10


Some polish to this hunt

Lost Legacy follows the footsteps of its predecessors by being a third person shooter with platforming incorporated, where the big exception is that you play as Chloe throughout the game instead of Nathan. Let’s start with the platform as it is a clear improvement from the last game, which was very troublesome. Lost Legacy understands that the simple platforming was implemented to make it more cinematic as you only used X to jump and otherwise the analog stick to find the right way to climb.

Back are also the rope to swing off from specific points and climbing gear for the moments when you need to press two extra buttons to venture further, but they are much better implemented here. Instead of just being used for small portions of the game in safe environments, they are used for faster moments where you must be quick on your reflexes or for exploration. Both are still simple additions, but more atmospheric and entertaining as they force the player to pay attention.

The combat has also evolved from the last game, though it still has problems. Fighting hand-to-hand is yet again awful by being a button masher, where you use square to punch and triangle to escape grabs. Because of how there is nothing else to this aspect, it basically boils down to a worse version of a QTE. Thankfully, this is far from a big part of the game as the focus is on the shooting. Being a cover based shooter with dodge-roll, regenerative health and blind-fire at disposal, there are plenty of dangerous fights against aggressive and smart enemies that can flank you. As it has been in the entire series up til now, you can only hold one handgun such as an Uzi,  one two-handed weapon like a sniper rifle, and carry upwards to four grenades for the dire moments.

All firearms are useful for different situations, making it helpful to plan out encounters and let you find a combination of two sets of weapons that might be to your taste. You cannot be too picky though, since you can only find more weapons and ammo, so a diverse setup and the ability to try out something new will be important. This challenge is further enhanced by the locations you will visit. Areas are lovely designed for shootouts with high and low grounds, good mix of indoor and outdoor locations, and plenty of destructible covers and optional approaches to take, such as swinging around with your rope. Every gunfight is set in a location that has enough size to demand strategic planing on the move and complements Chloe’s versatile abilities, but are never so large that they become overbearing.

Going stealthy is still a possibility for many encounters, and as long as you are not discovered, you can easily take out enemies in one hit. This works great for letting you choose your approach and due to the sizes of the areas, they easily compliment those who want the silent route or those who enjoys shootouts. Though there are times one approach is clearly the better way to go. For example, two boss fights featuring huge and dangerous vehicles, heavily emphasise that stealth will be the best route to take. Both aspects are entertaining, so I never found it disheartening when I was pushed into taking one approach over the other, even if it is a design-choice that is easy to argue for both as positive or negative. You can also mark foes to make them easier to spot and since the levels are perfect in size as mentioned, this is a nice way to help keep track on where they are.

If that was not enough, Nadine is a good supportive AI that helps you in both combat and stealth, making sections easier to deal with. She never becomes intrusive, and rather helps out in dangerous situations where you can be overpowered, though she never makes the game easy. She is rather like a solid equaliser that provides immersion. Although the enemies do not change much between one another besides some wearing heavier armour, the weapons they carry are varied enough to make fights engaging. Despite that you cannot throw back grenades like in Uncharted 3, you are never bombarded with them like in the fourth instalment, so it did not feel off to not have this ability anymore.

Outside of the combat and platforming, are some incredibly clever puzzles that can really become demanding, such as a tile puzzle where a single wrong move can claim your life or one involving shadows to create an image. All were engaging and never overstayed their welcome. There are also segments where you drive a car, and while it is rather for providing atmospheric scenery than anything else, one stage with it features a huge hub world that makes it engaging to explore thanks to the place being filled with different and unique landmarks and treasures.

While these are for the most part great improvements, Lost Legacy falters in a couple of significant areas. I have already mentioned how tedious the introduction is with its slow pace and forced immersion, but this is just marginally improved upon with the first couple of chapters. Lost Legacy does get progressively better and adds inn events that are simply great, but this is after the first three chapters and many areas can have an off pacing, not giving a good balance between styles of gameplay. There are also some strange parts that feel unfinished or involves too much hand-holding. A couple of examples to these are the new feature in the form of lockpicking that results into tedious QTEs, and how the game ends with a boss battle that is just a dull hand-to-hand fight.

Though as the first third of the game is over, you will finally be able to experience the better parts and enjoy the game both for its cinematic moments, intense fights and strong puzzles. It is bizarre that you must struggle through what is a bland and uninteresting start, but after those bumps in the road, Lost Legacy will become decent, then good, and then end on a great rush before the final fight, combining all elements you have experienced throughout the game in one fantastic chapter. It is basically the term of “getting over the bad, in order to get to the good”.

Gameplay Score: 5/10


Not just pretty to look at

The team took the stunning quality from the last game and finally put some personality into it. For example, Chloe has gotten a redesign in this entry. However, instead of making her look prettier or generic similar to what happened to the characters in Uncharted 4, the developers made her look more ethnic and slim, creating a nice contrast to Nadine’s African and more muscular build, which makes them more memorable and realistic. Even their attires are reflections on their contrasts by being red and blue, which is a cute touch. This lovely attention to detail goes for the rest of the cast and the entire game even.

The areas you venture through are filled with animals roaming around and ruins with detailed textures, making every location immersive and impressive to look at. Sahyadri is gorgeous from afar with every temple being presented with unique constructions, idols and sizes, complimented by the beautiful backgrounds that are breathtaking. While you will not be on a grand adventure, what is here is still interesting and easy to appreciate.

The action-packed scenes, such as riding on moving trains at a high speed, climbing on ginormous and crumbling constructions or the amounts of explosions from weapons, are all exciting and intriguing. No moment involving these kinds of tension were dull, especially thanks to the camera showing just how small you are in this world by zooming out and letting you take in the size of the area. While the ranged combat and explosions are entertaining and can make enemies fly in an over the top manner, the melee combat suffers from strange clipping and animations that are sluggish. It can make it look like you are moving faster than a superhero, which is admittedly hilarious, but clearly not intended. Though seeing attacks being preformed by our duo simultaneously, is quite neat as they are impressively choreographed.

The soundtrack by Henry Jackman is once again fantastic and while he has a huge focus on symphonic music once again, he also includes instruments like sitars to make some songs more culturally appropriate and with the echo given to his pieces, it makes the songs feel grand and mysterious. What is a terrible shame then, is that these tracks are rarely used. The game goes for ambient sounds with no music for driving or scenes where you discover old ruins, which can make the journey feel empty.

This is an adventure with over the top elements, which makes it odd that the music cannot have more of a foothold, especially when it is so grand and varied. When they do appear, they can also be hard to hear thanks to the gunfire and explosions being louder. It really seems strange that his beautiful and diverse work does not get to shine properly. At least the gunfire packs an immense punch and makes every fight intense and enthralling. The voice actors adds great characteristics to their voices and even the more forgettable personalities, such as Asav, has a strong actor behind him, making him memorable by just his voice alone. Everything is great, with some setbacks that should not hinder the overall atmosphere.

Presentation Score: 8/10


On the right track in style!

I want to again complement the developers for the upgrades they have added here, as they also made finding treasures actually fun again. Not only are they cleverly hidden, but some will require you to do neat puzzles or fight your way through bandits, making them demand more than just a keen eye to be discovered. A highlight to this is the open area, as you can even take on sidequests in order to make the treasure hunting easier, which is neat. The ability to take photographs return from Golden Abyss, and while these are context sensitive moments, it is nice to be rewarded with memorable moments to look fondly upon.

As you do these optional tasks, you will also unlock models and concept arts, but more importantly skins, guns, filters and gameplay mods. These are fantastic, and while I would love more skins as the selection is few, the other rewards are simply outstanding. To give an example, my second playthrough involved hydrogen voices, cel-shaded visuals, and low gravity. Since the adventure was a decent one, it was hilarious to just play around with these settings and it never got old. The unlockable crushing difficulty is also a fun challenge to tackle. Multiplayer modes return from Uncharted 4, with competitive shootouts and co-op survival providing different setups, maps, trials, unlockables and rewards. You can also play with Uncharted 4 users and it is still a fun distraction, even if it is online only.

Extra Score: 8/10


Verdict

This is interesting as Lost Legacy does involve much from Uncharted 4, but also adds in elements from the earlier titles in order to make this adventure feel more connected to the series mechanically, visually and even in its story. It is sort of a mix of the old and the new. This is both its strength and its weakness, but while it still has some huge problems, I can definitely say this was an entertaining ride. If you can get over the unfocused plot and the tedious starting hours, you will be pleasantly surprised and have a fun adventure with two memorable protagonists. Not overall good, but certainly worth admiring.

60/100

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