"A visually stunning, cinematically breathtaking, female empowering game that we need to see more of in the industry."
Time for one of those confessional backstory things.
I got into the Uncharted series a bit late. I bought the first game on the PS3 and, despite how beautiful the game was, quickly gave up on it because of my hatred of the console; I'm still not entirely sure why but I just could not get on with the PS3. When the PS4 came out I got one out of pure curiosity more than anything else and was nicely surprised at how much I loved my time with the console. This was around the same period that Naughty Dog announced the fourth and 'final' chapter of its Uncharted series, so I decided to give it another go. After borrowing the Collection from a friend I ended up completing all three games within a week and preordering U4 as the third set of credits rolled. To say I was now hooked was a slight understatement.
U4 was a wonderful game to play and a fantastic end to a series that I had only had the privilege of being a part of for a matter of months, then Naughty Dog dropped the news that the DLC they were working on was going to be turned into a full game. For whatever reason and despite my love of the series, it took me a while to get around to playing the spin off / sequel 'The Lost Legacy', but when I did OH BOY! did it make me remember why Uncharted is so great.
I started playing Lost Legacy a day after completing Rise of the Tomb Raider and instantly knew which game I preferred. Despite having similar gameplay mechanics Lost Legacy was a lot more stripped down, not suffering from all of the unneeded features that had clogged up Rise so much, freeing up the space and time to fully enjoy and become absorbed in the wonderfully rendered world and the characters that inhabited it. I honestly cannot remember any of the picturesque locations in Rise yet can describe in vivid detail everything about Lost Legacy.
The fact that this was supposed to be DLC excuses the use of the same mechanics and engine and would have easily allowed Naughty Dog to coast on the good will created by U4, yet from the start it is very easy to see that the company did not make this game just for that extra bit of DLC cash (Rise's Mansion DLC was one of the most boring things I have ever 'played') instead Lost Legacy instantly shows the love that was put into it, something that is not always seen in similar games.
The presentation of the story, whilst having a plot similar to previous entries in the franchise, is truly wonderful and just goes to show that you can make a fantastic game on the simplest of premises. This is largely thanks to the relationship and subsequent tale of its two female leads (Chloe last seen in U2, and Nadine from the previous game). Putting two women at the forefront, especially as both of them are women of colour, was seen as a risky move in a gaming world governed by trolls and incels yet anyone who sees this as a weakness should not be able to classify themselves as a gamer, or indeed a human being.
This is an incredibly empowering game and should be a benchmark for all future releases. I don't think I have ever seen, let alone played, a game that showed such a wonderful female relationship in addition to passing both the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests. Even though I fall into that horrible category of straight white male I still relished the cinematically beautiful times when the two female leads would team up and beat the crap out of the male antagonist. If ever there was a video game that I'd want a possible future daughter to play it would be this one.
Chloe and Nadine are able to do everything that the male characters of the franchise were able to do, and in places a lot more as I found the character of Nadine a lot more help in situations than the secondary characters in the previous games. Also when a male character is finally introduced - thankfully just as a link to the main campaign of U4 rather than a "mighty man here to save the day" - he is seen more as a somewhat bumbling fool than any actual help, appearing more as simple comic relief rather than someone there to take over the narrative.
The Uncharted games are made to be cinematic which do impact on their length, plus this initially being DLC means that the game was over in only a handful of hours, yet it felt like the perfect length. There were no tedious filler missions and the single side quest was completely optional. Despite being over quickly I loved every second I spent within this little spin off and, as the credits rolled, I actively wished that there would be more games featuring these characters.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy proves that you can create a visually stunning, cinematically breathtaking, well thought out, female empowering video game that offers something more to the remaining 50% of gamers out there who aren't male. We need more games like this!