It’s not too often that I feel completely and utterly satisfied once a series comes to an end; let alone one I hold near and dear such as Uncharted. Nathan Drake is an amicable character that has charmed players from the beginning of Drake’s Fortune. It didn’t take much for me to grow attached to not only Drake, but other characters as well. Naughty Dog did a fantastic job at keeping me interested as Drake’s story progressed through the years.
That being said, at the end of Drake’s Deception, there was still a craving for more. Not only did I, as a player, want more of the adventure, but I wanted to know more about Drake himself. More specifically: why did he choose this life of adventuring? Uncharted 4 not only does a brilliant job at filling in Drake’s backstory, but concludes the franchise in a way where many epilogues fail–leaving players content.
Let’s start with the utmost obvious aspect the game: the visuals. Aesthetically, Uncharted 4 is a downright beautiful game. From the jungle to the open sea; around every corner this game will “wow” you with breathtaking visuals. I won’t lie, I came into several instances where I had to stop amidst a fight to admire the environmental design. While I died repeatedly doing so, I felt it justified, and more beneficial after witnessing every single detail. When you’re able to slow down the pace, and pay attention to every tree, rock, and building, you begin to appreciate the game in a whole different light.
Uncharted 4 begins with a “retired” Nathan Drake. Nathan has settled down with Elena, and strives for a sense of normality in his life. It’s when his supposedly dead older brother, Sam, comes back into the picture, and asks for Nathan’s help one last time, that the story really begins. An adventure that begins with lies and guilt, sheds light on Nathan’s love for his family, and the inner turmoil that surfaces. A Thief’s End brings these characters to life in a way that hasn’t been done before. The character development that Naughty Dog invested in is remarkable. Proof presents itself through the way he gazes at Elena, the way he welcomes his brother back, and how reluctant he becomes when discussing his past. Naughty Dog takes the very aspects that make us human, and applied them to our favorite characters. The phenomenal animation and motion capture allows players to read the situation, instead of listening to what’s said; a lot goes unsaid throughout the game, but an understanding is still met.
Just like any game, there are bugs. While, overall, the controls are extremely fluid in comparison to the previous installments, they tended to let me down when I needed them the most. The scaling of buildings, cliff jumps, and incorporation of the grappling hook make the gameplay a blast. Every time I felt as if the combat was about to plateau, Naughty Dog would throw something my way to make it more interesting. Blow up vehicles with an RPG? Dodge skeletons lined with explosives? Sure, why not?
But it wouldn’t feel like an Uncharted game without puzzles. I wouldn’t say that the puzzles I encountered were necessarily difficult, but they were enough to keep gameplay fun, yet challenging. Hunting for a pirate captain’s buried treasure is no easy task; booby traps and riddles are to be expected.
Uncharted 4 is a brilliant end to a remarkable series. More often than not, developers end series in a way that makes no sense; in a way where fans are left upset, and discontent. A Thief’s End ties up all loose ends throughout previous installments, and ends the franchise the exact way it should’ve ended. While it was a bittersweet moment watching those credits role one last time, I felt nothing but satisfaction and gratitude for what Naughty Dog created: an amazing experience.
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Review Statement: The author of this review paid for a retail version of the game for the purposes of this review.