Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the return of Naughty Dog’s flagship franchise. The last main game in the series was in 2011. In between then and now, Naughty Dog released the landmark game, The Last of Us. The Last of Us and Uncharted are two types of games that are similar in gameplay mechanics but tonally are completely different. In between the release of the Uncharted games, there were numerous shakeups during the development of the fourth game and eventually the creative heads behind The Last of Us took over the creative duties of the newest Uncharted. So is this the same Uncharted that millions have come to love and adore or is it something more akin to The Last of Us? The answer is most of the former but with some of the latter.
If you have played an Uncharted game before, you will not be lost playing this game. Everything that is old is new once again. The simple gameplay mechanics such as running and shooting and climbing are still the same. There are a few twists here and there especially when it comes to climbing. There is a new stealth mechanic that is similar to the one in The Last of Us. Whereas in that game, one could enter stealth with the hit of a button, this time you can only enter stealth when in an environment such as tall grass. It works but there is something clunky about it. Also there is a new rope mechanic that enables main character, Nathan Drake, the ability to swing. This is mostly used in traversal areas and puzzles but can also be used in combat situations. It is not much but does add a new element that spruces up gameplay elements that definitely needed a new shakeup or risk being stale.
The graphics in the game are something to behold. This is Naughty Dog taking full advantage of the Playstation 4’s hardware. There are no hard breaks in between gameplay and cutscenes and sometimes I was unaware that the cutscene even ended before a prompt appeared onscreen telling me what to do next. There are lush environments ranging from tropical island to deserts to busy streets and all have a unique flair. Character models are also detailed as there are such minute touches such as the graying and added wrinkles to Nathan Drake to subtly tell the player that time has passed for this character since the first game in the series. No one can fault someone for putting down the controller just to admire the scenery, in fact there is even a clock in the game telling the player as to how long they have done such a thing.
When it comes to the story, this is probably the most mature game in the Uncharted series. It never loses its pulp action flair but there are added character details. This really delves into the question of “Who is Nathan Drake?” This comes with the fact that we are introduced to his brother, Samuel, who was thought to be dead. Nathan Drake is a changed man from the first game in the series. He is no longer the slightly selfish and obsessed treasure hunter. Now he is a domesticated husband working a day job who struggles to move past his old ways but with his brother returning, can he figure out what to do? Returning characters such as Elena and Sully and new villains Rafe Adler and Nadine round out the cast. These are also characters who are multilayered and fully fleshed out. The story takes the characters all over the world. There are flashbacks throughout that are not that thrilling to play but definitely help flesh out the story, so it all balances out.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is billed as the final installment in the Uncharted series. By the end of the game one can certainly see as to how this might be true. However, there is enough wiggle room to make a few more Uncharted games. It may be the final Uncharted game for developers Naughty Dog and if that is true, then they certainly made a worthwhile game in the series. It is a game with a worthwhile story and great characters and is just fun from beginning to end. Naughty Dog should be commended on making such a fully rounded out game in their landmark series. Anyone who owns a Playstation 4 should buy this game. Anyone who does not own a Playstation 4, should go buy one so that they can buy this game.