Right after completing the very solid Cuphead (review is forthcoming), I rolled right onto Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
I’ve been a big fan of Naughty Dog and specifically the Uncharted series. I’ve played the first three entries of the series and so I’ve been excited to finally start what was billed as the final chapter. So far, the game has certainly delivered.
Obviously the main draw is the visuals. Uncharted 4 might be the best looking game on console. Naughty Dog have really hit their stride in the graphics department. Facial expressions, small details, fluid movements, everything is given care. The truly great point so far has been that Naughty Dog has mixed the outstanding detail and visuals with the right moments to show it off.
Some games might have strong graphics, but fail to really give you breathtaking views or other places to really show off any eye candy. In Uncharted, Naughty Dog has been quite deliberate in building in ways to show off the graphics. You might be climbing a mountain, focusing on the puzzle at hand. When you finally reach a safe landing area, the camera pans to a sunset over the ocean, with some distant islands gleaming off the water.
To set up these moments, the game’s story takes place in different venues across the globe. The basic premise is that the main character, Nathan Drake, globetrots in search of a secret pirate treasure. Without spoiling too much, the game explores South America, Europe, and Africa within the context of the story. However, my main draw has been the “throwback” and “send-off” motifs throughout the story so far.
The game has referenced the prior entries in the series in multiple points. Hearing Nathan reflect on these prior adventures is interesting, and also triggers my own recollection of playing through those titles (of which I was a big fan). Naughty Dog even goes a bit meta, with an in-game run of Crash Bandicoot. It definitely played to my nostalgic tendencies.
Now, with these throwbacks and calls to the past, some players might worry that they will miss out on the context needed to fully enjoy the story. Well, one night I was playing my significant other demanded I continue to play because of her interest in the story (she has never seen any of the Uncharted series). So, with that, I got the impression that fresh players can fully enjoy Uncharted 4 without getting caught up on the story.
So far the gameplay, while very similar to the previous titles, has had great pacing. Naughty Dog has really blended the platforming with the action/shooting sequences well. I think the platforming portions have been improved by what feels like improved jumping directional control. I had issues in the previous games with Nathan just jumping off a ledge despite the buttons I had pressed on the controller.
Despite all this praise, there has been one negative so far. Many of the puzzles I’ve encountered have been very simple or easy. Now, I didn’t buy Uncharted 4 seeking some challenging puzzles, but sometimes they are just walking through the motions with little thought involved. There have been some interesting puzzles, but on the whole they don’t present much of a challenge.
Overall I am really enjoying Uncharted and its obvious that Naughty Dog has really hit its stride with graphics, pacing, story, and polish. I’m excited to see how Nathan Drake’s story finally wraps up.