Death of the Critic

The Backlog - Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Written By: CJ Streetman


It’s way too easy to fall way too far behind on games. They simply ask for too much of your time and money to be able to keep up with all the ones that look interesting. Thankfully, almost entirely due to online sales, eventually you’re able to get most games for a five dollar bill and an afternoon of free time.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the best entry in the already great Uncharted series.

In nearly every way,
Uncharted 4 improves upon the previous iterations; the combat feels better and makes you feel more like an action hero than ever, the “stealth” works, which is miles above the last few games, the puzzles are by and large very intuitive, almost never becoming frustrating, and the story is very compelling even though it misses the hint of the supernatural that all the previous games had.

The crux of the story, the relationship between Drake and whoever his companion at the time is, is tremendous. Most of the game is spent with Sam, Drake’s brother who Nathan has thought was dead for 15 years after a botched prison escape. All of these sequences seem incredibly natural; Drake’s desire to do whatever he can to help his brother he accidentally left for dead 15 years prior, all the brotherly snippets, and, ultimately, Drake’s disbelief when he finds out Sam has tricked him all feel real, even as it is surrounded by increasingly unbelievable gunfights and hidden cities.


The later parts of the game are spent with series veteran Elena, and once she’s arrived proper, her interactions with Nathan are gold. The entirety of the game is framed by marital troubles between her and Drake and we get to see Drake rediscover what made him fall in love with her in the first place as they explore yet another lost city, and frankly it’s so entrancing and charming to see them rekindle their flame even as they fight through the mistakes they’ve made.

Unfortunately, where each aspect of the game has improved upon the past iterations, it just makes the flaws more obvious.

Plot holes (how the hell did Rafe know to be on that particular island?) and out of character moments (Elena, why were you being as extra as possible in the hotel?) stick out when the rest of the story shines to such a degree. Stealth works until it just arbitrarily doesn’t. Every time the jumping and climbing doesn’t work is infuriating, almost entirely because of how much one relies on them.

The greatest offender is the combat, not because of any particular flaw in it, but just because it’s too much. As the game goes on and the story becomes more and more intriguing, the combat grows longer, more frequent, and more bombastic. This wouldn’t normally be much of a problem but, fundamentally, Uncharted 4 is a movie that has pretty good gameplay. More than anything I wanted to complete the story and the combat just got in the way of it. More than anything, the combat left me wanting to play The Last of Us again, a game with similar attention to story but more believable and narratively appropriate combat.

Despite any of these criticisms, Uncharted 4 is an appropriate send off to the character that is Nathan Drake with a conclusion that, in equal parts, seems to promise a sequel while being a perfect close to a strong series.



CJ Streetman is a contributing editor for Death of the Critic. Their professional pursuits include counseling, games journalism, and poetry.

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