What ‘Uncharted: The Lost Legacy’ does for representation

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It’s a legacy that doesn’t deserve to be lost.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is the latest entry of Sony’s Uncharted series of blockbuster games, where fan favorite recurring character from Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3, Chloe Frazer, takes center stage as she is accompanied by the secondary antagonist from Uncharted 4, mercenary Nadine Ross. Together, they travel across India in search for a relic of the Hoysala Empire known as “The Tusk of Ganesh”. Their competition being the warlord and rebel leader Asav, who hopes to use the tusk to help inspire a civil war within India, which will help pave the way for him to rule.

And you’re probably wondering why talk about such an obscure game that’s almost three years old, and not even the most popular game of its franchise, year of release, or even its own console. Well, the answer is simple. Not only is it criminally underrated, but it’s actually available for free on PlaystationNow, so this is the perfect opportunity to try it out for yourself if this article convinces you to do so, especially if you’re quarantined and looking for new experiences from the comfort of your home. Fair warning, the game’s plot will be discussed in detail here, so there will be spoilers upon spoilers if you haven’t played the game yet.

I didn’t find many articles discussing this crucial topic, except for one on Mashable and Entertainment Stew. It strikes me as odd that major gaming platforms seemingly haven’t discussed just how big of a step this game is for female representation, and it’s why I’m deciding to address it here and now. This mostly boils down to the story, since Lost Legacy isn’t the most innovative in terms of gameplay, save for Chloe’s unique and simplistic ability of lock picking, but it was never meant to be.

For those not in the know, a little background info on our two leads. Chloe Frazer is far from a Mary-Sue, and has been since her introduction. She seemingly fits into your typical femme fatale trope thanks to her flirtatious relationship with the wise cracking Nathan Drake, she quickly outgrows that mold, as she has shown a willingness to do anything, even outside of reason, to get what she wants. Meaning that she aligns herself with some unsavory figures, specifically Uncharted 2 antagonist and traitor, Harry Flynn. While she is good at heart, her self-preserving nature is very easily exploited, and even causes her to leave the story of Uncharted 3 early on after a close call.

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You can say a lot of things about Chloe, but you can’t say that she’s dull.

While Chloe is absent from Uncharted 4, Nadine fills Chloe’s secondary female leading shoes in her own aggressive way. Sharing a history with Nate’s friend and mentor, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, she’s a South African mercenary who is the head of Shoreline, a para-militaristic organization that serves as a thorn in the side of the Drake brothers throughout the story. While she partners with main antagonist Rafe Adler and eventually, Chloe, she can more than hold her own in a both a fist and gun fight, as we learn the hard way when Nate first meets her. These confrontations continue throughout, and only survives the events of Uncharted 4 by leaving Nate and Rafe abandoned on a burning pirate ship, bitter that Rafe bought out the Shoreline mercenaries so they’d turn on her. This act of defiance is the last we see of her until now.

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With morals that loose, you think they’d be a fit for each other.

It’s worth noting that in this title, developer Naughty Dog went the extra mile in showing Chloe and Nadine’s contrasting style, highlighted not only in their dialogue, but even their outfits. Chloe is draped in red throughout the entire campaign, and Nadine in blue, and even more detailed is the fact that Nadine has a drop leg holster for her gun, while Chloe’s is attached to the back of her belt, an extremely admirable detail.

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Impressive, indeed.

And it goes without saying, these aren’t just two women, one of them is a black South African woman, and the other is an Australian-Indian hybrid. A quick internet search will tell you that few games have two women as the protagonists, never mind two women of the color.

And a side note, on a more superficial level, the graphics, detail, and environments are gorgeous all around. With lush green sunlit jungles blending perfectly along the stone ruins and more industrial features later in the game. You can practically see the pours on characters’ skin in close ups, and every spec of dirt on every ruin and object. It’s right up there with the other beautiful games of 2017 like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon Zero Dawn.

As far as console Uncharted games go, The Lost Legacy is a bit of a black sheep for a number of reasons. Two main ones being the fact that, for the first time, Nathan Drake is not the main character, and only mentioned in passing at that. The second being that it’s considerably shorter than the games before it, and was a follow up to the critical and commercial success that was Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, so it was always going to be hard to escape that game’s shadow. Nevertheless, it can’t be ignored, so let us start at the beginning of the story, written by Josh Scherr and Shaun Escayg.

From the start, the clashing personalities of our two protagonists are more than apparent. With Chloe having a much more laid back, but never the less focused attitude, and Nadine being much more pessimistic. Their relationship is purely transactional when we first meet them. Chloe has the knowledge and experience of both Indian culture and treasure hunting to get the Tusk, while Nadine has the experience with both Asav and para-militaristic forces to deal with any resistance. They team up and plan to split the earnings from their findings, a mutually beneficial partnership. Though, Chloe is quick to point out, “This is [her] gig.”

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Chloe the double agent, Nadine the stubborn mercenary, Asav the war crinimal, nothing out of the ordinary yet.

She shows a willingness to switch sides, even saying to Asav, “My rates are reasonable.” This is Chloe Frazer as we have come to know her, and Nadine is understandably fuming that Chloe would apparently sell her out so easily, though if you’ve come to know Chloe, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. There’s no time to get hung up, though. They have a tusk to find, and Asav’s forces are looming over them.

Barely escaping capture, they move from the city to the jungle, where things really start to get interesting. Letting viewers in on the story of the trident wielding Ganesh, fighting the archer Parasharama, at the door of Shiva, who is the father of Ganesh and wielded an axe.

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Take note, these will be important later.

Whenever they stop atop one of the three towers while in the Western Ghats section of the game, it provides not only a nice bit of scenery, but also an opportunity for our two protagonists to get to know each other. The Lost Legacy paints a very believable relationship, not just between two women, but between just two people in general. At the Parasharama tower, they both learn they have something in common, learning the skills of their trade from their fathers. The atop the tower of Shiva, Chloe provides a bit more backstory on how she not only got knowledge on archeology from her father, but practically all of Indian culture thanks to his unrelenting search for the Tusk, which caused him to send her away with her mother to Australia, adopting her last name, hence why her name seemingly has no reflection of her Indian heritage.

It’s not a steady path towards friendship, however. Upon learning that Chloe is also working with Sam Drake, Nadine’s former adversary, Nadine is enraged that Chloe neglected to mention it to her and punches Chloe hard, storming off and leaving her in the rain. While Nadine agrees to continue working with Chloe, she does so grudgingly, since they need each other’s skills to get the Tusk, and the one thing they can agree on in that moment is that Asav shouldn’t have it.

This video hits hard in more ways than one.

This serves as a turning point of sorts for Chloe, because Nadine has done something that not even Nathan Drake could have ever done, force her to take a hard look at herself.

Nadine’s anger towards Chloe is short lived however, as they find another noble cause to get behind, an elephant trapped underneath debris. Unable to abandon it, they work together to free it.

Chloe uses this moment to offer a softer apology to Nadine, saying, “I’m not very good at the whole people thing.” Something obvious to any longtime Chloe or Uncharted fan. Nadine doubles down by calling Chloe a “Selfish dickhead”, which Chloe concedes to, and her fessing up seems to help clear the air a bit.

Upon arriving at the capital of Belur, Chloe makes the point the Tusk isn’t just a piece of Indian history, but a symbol of its people and culture, adding more significance not only to the tusk as an artifact, but Chloe’s connection to it. It is at this point that we reach what I believe to be the most emotionally powerful moment of the game, when Chloe and Nadine discover that an enlarged model of the Tusk is topped with trinkets similarly shaped to one Chloe has been carrying around, which she says came in the mail after her father shipped her mother and her to Australia, and realizes she is standing where her father once stood.

Seeing Chloe in this vulnerable state softens Nadine considerably, and leads to the emotional climax that the game has been building up to. With Chloe’s mission becoming al the more personal, she says, “I can’t let Asav get that Tusk.” Nadine kneels down to face Chloe and says, “No, we can’t.” Check it out for yourself. Doctor’s orders.

Consider this vid the TLDR version of this article.

And shortly afterwards, we get one of the most charming moments in the game when Chloe and Nadine climb a top a rock above a small body of water. Chloe says she needs to get her head back in the game and Nadine, in good fun, pushes her off the edge, forcing both Chloe and the player to climb back up.

This nice bit of character development isn’t limited to just cutscenes and scripted events. Another nice detail, that I learned the hard way, was if you encounter a “Game Over” in the beginning of the game, you’ll hear Nadine yell “Frazer!”, but past this point, it’ll change so that Nadine yells, “Chloe!”

The time for pleasantries is short lived however, as they are again attacked by Asav’s forces and captured, eventually reuniting with Sam Drake. Unlike Chloe though, he has not had time to soften up to Nadine. The feeling is still mutual and neither of them is shy about bringing up old wounds. Their bickering is short lived, due to when they arrive in the final temple of the game, and Asav threatens to give Nadine and Sam slow painful deaths in front of Chloe unless she solves the final puzzle, which involves both rotation and rearranging statues.

Solving these puzzles isn’t just another piece of gameplay, they also provide a bit more information on Ganesh’s legend. It turns out Ganesh lost his tusk voluntarily in battle, and yielding to Parasharama, who’s axe robbed Ganesh of his tusk. And as a gift from Shiva, Ganesh defeating Parasharama would make Shiva’s axe appear weak, sacrificing himself to preserve his father’s honor. A sentiment lost on megalomaniac, Asav. Little time to ponder this sentiment, however, as the puzzle has allowed Asav to acquire the tusk, and leaves our three heroes to drown as he floods the temple.

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Take note writers. This is what you call Character Development.

After escaping the flood and infiltrating Asav’s base, doing some shooting and crashing a helicopter, Chloe learns that Asav wanted the Tusk, not as a status symbol, but so that he could trade it for a bomb, that is currently on an inbound train to destroy the city.

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And here we are with that character development again!

And so with that, our three heroes get themselves a truck and chase after the train. After much driving, shooting, jumping, and a whole lot of chaos, Chloe redirects the train and boards it with Nadine for a two-on-one fist fight with Asav, which ends with them trapping Asav under his bomb before the train goes off a bridge, which they escape from in time to be reunited with Sam.

Chloe believes that the Ministry of Agriculture will give them a generous finder’s fee, and Nadine says thinks there could be something to the life of a treasure hunter, as our heroes look off into the sunset.

They’ve both learned something and are more well rounded people because of it. And this is what the story does best. It looks at each of these characters as people, and doesn’t make a big show about how they’re two women who single handedly took down a man, but focuses on the internal growth they each see and reminds us that we relate to each other through our experiences, our emotions, and not our backgrounds.

So please check it out Uncharted: The Lost Legacy for yourself, today.

Written by

I write like my life depends on it, and dress like I work at Macy’s. Twitter (@JustAVerySmith) Insta & Twitch (justinaverysmith) TikTok (@justinaverysmith07)

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