Uncharted 4: A Thief ’s End
THE RETURN of charismatic, adventuring mass-murderer Nathan Drake has been long awaited. It’s four-and-a-half years since Drake’s Deception — an age in video games. No doubt aware of this, Sony released a remastered version of the previous three last year — part stopgap, part education. Uncharted is its flagship franchise and this game needs to deliver.
Given that, it’s oddly slow to get started. The game begins with Nathan as a kid, breaking out of his orphanage with his older brother, Sam, then shows them as young adults on a mission that ends in Sam’s “death”. Skip forward 15 years (past the events of previous Uncharteds), Nathan’s in scuba gear and the adventure proper is ready to begin. Except it isn’t. He’s working for a salvage company. Job done, he goes home, reminisces, eats dinner, plays Crash Bandicoot (seriously — you play level four, ‘Boulders’). It’s an approach that either displays impressive confidence or enormous self-indulgence.
Stick with it, though, because these sections add emotional weight to what follows. It’s no doubt influenced by the directors Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley’s experience on The Last Of Us. Finally, scene set, Sam is revealed to not actually be dead and the adventure starts for real. And what an adventure it is — first with a heist in an Italian mansion, then the excavation of a pirate grave in Scotland, and so on, across the world.
That world is still mostly linear in its waypoints (and not averse to deciding a small drop would kill you if it takes you too far off path) but that isn’t a negative — there’s a lot to be said for a series that plays to its strengths, while attempting to refine them. A Thief ’s End succeeds in that goal. It still delivers spectacular action set-pieces (including a plunge over a waterfall and a knuckle-whitening bike chase) but its emotionally engaging tale is a clear leap forward in interactive storytelling. Nathan Drake — it’s good to have you back. JONATHAN PILE