OBVIOUS SPOILER WARNING: DON’T READ FURTHER UNLESS YOU HAVE FINISHED UNCHARTED 4
So, Uncharted 4 is here, the swan song for one of Sony’s most beloved, genre-defining franchises. Nathan Drake has been gracing our screens for 9 years, but does his story go out with a bang or a fizzle?
You can check out our full explanation of the story and ending here, but I’ll sum up the game’s final few hours.
Nate convinces Sam to give up on Avery’s treasure, but after they are seperated, Sam changes his mind, heading off to complete their mothers legacy. Nate is forced back into the fray to find Sam, and they end up at Avery’s pirate ship, where Rafe forces Nadine to continue protecting him against her will.
Nate finds Sam stuck under a beam in the ship which is quickly burning. Rafe attempts to kill Nate, who is stopped by Nadine. She makes an allegory to the pirates Tew and Avery, who after betraying the founders turned on each other, their skeletons laying side by side on the ship after they had killed eachother. Nadine runs off, locking the 3 men in the burning room. Rafe and Nate fight using the swords of the dead pirates, with Nate eventually killing Rafe by dropping treasure on his head. After this, he saves Sam and returns to Sully and Elena, who safely make it back home. Sam partners with Sully and Nate goes back to live with Elena, who purchases the diving company Nate works for with gold retrieved from Libertalia, planning to continue her TV show, the one that started it all.
Years pass, and in the touching epilogue you play as Cassie, their daughter. She discovers her parents old adventuring gear, and Nate begins to tell her the story of their adventures. Roll credits.
The ending works for a lot of reasons. To start with, Uncharted 4 manages to achieve a great level of emotion without a major twist or heel turn. Usually you need a big character death to send a series off into the abyss, but the game ends in a surprisingly amicable manner, yet is still incredibly heartfelt, which is to the credit of the writing. The fight with Rafe at the end is like a tense dose of fear and adrenaline that provides the same level of feeling without having to shamelessly kill someone, or utilize the supernatural as they have done in previous games.
The lack of a supernatural element makes the story a lot more personal, which is a bold move that works well, especially in a series that hasn’t really probed that area to this extent before.
Some might say that not having Sam or Nate die is a cop-out, a safety net so they can revive the series, but the way they tie it up after the main games concludes seeks to contradict that point.
This is because it doesn’t have a cheap after-credits ‘to be continued’ scene. When the game ends you don’t feel like there’s anything left to tie up. The Uncharted family are all in a great place, and it doesn’t feel like they could just throw another Uncharted in our faces without it being tasteless. They’ve set it up so that to continue the story they’d have to do something very fresh and interesting, and that’s again to their credit.
The big shock of the ending is of course playing as Cassie, who you are introduced to in a brilliant way. It’s an epilogue that doesn’t feel like its trying to hard to give us a happily-ever-after, and that’s quite hard to pull off. After the game played with the rocky relationship of Drake and Elena in the later chapters, to see them growing old together with a daughter is emotionally evocative, and Naughty Dog make a lot out of what some might deem a short walking simulator.
I think this is mainly due credit to the way the writers have built the game, with the flashback sequences to Nate and Sam as children. This really loads the punch of emotion that you get from the Cassie reveal, and it sends the series off to a great place in the history books of gaming. It’s something that in due time will create a great amount of nostalgia and wanderlust for the rocky road we’ve travelled through to get to this point.
All in all, Uncharted is a series of stories about Archaeology and Adventure, but the last instalment tells a touching, unforgettable story about family. It’s an incredibly bold move away for the series, but learning from The Last Of Us, Naughty Dog have pulled it off. Most gaming swan songs fail to satisfy, but this is a wonderful anomaly.