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‘Uncharted’s’ Greatest Moments ‘Uncharted’s’ Greatest Moments

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Remembering Some of ‘Uncharted’s’ Best Moments

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Fair warning, here be spoilers

Much like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, and Resident Evil, the Uncharted series is overflowing with individual moments of brilliance.

Alongside the raft of truly astounding, high-octane action sequences that wouldn’t feel out of place in a John Woo movie, over the course of 4 incredible adventures (5 if you include PS Vita title The Golden Abyss) Naughty Dog has treated us to some of gaming’s most memorable stories, wittiest dialogue, and entertaining characters.

So, with PS4-exclusive spin-off Uncharted: The Lost Legacy’s release just around the corner, what better time than now to discuss our favourite memories from the series’ illustrious past? To get the ball rolling, I hereby humbly submit 4 that are indelibly imprinted on my memory; one from each of the main-line titles.

Feel free to agree with or dispute, support or mock my picks down in the comments.

Drake’s Fortune – Discovering the Supernatural

Naughty Dog’s first entry in the critically-acclaimed series was undoubtedly rough around the edges. It possessed some of the elements that would come to define the rest of the series, sure, but was hampered by tedious moment-to-moment gameplay and ropey mechanics, encapsulated for many by the awkward jet-ski sequences in chapters 8 and 12.

I imagine this is why, whenever I think back to my previous experiences with Drake’s Fortune, my most vivid memories aren’t of gunning down dozens of faceless enemy soldiers during one of the many bombastic set-pieces, rather, they’re of the entertaining, razor-sharp dialogue and revelatory plot twists. And none stands out more in my mind than the moment we discover things aren’t what they seem. That this is more than a simple story about treasure-hunting.

Although heavily implied throughout, we have to wait until chapter 17 for confirmation that supernatural forces a la Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider have and will continue to influence events, as, during their exploration of the El Dorado treasure vault, Nate, Elena, and cartoonish semi-antagonist Eddy Raja are waylaid by hordes of Gollum-like zombie creatures known as the Descendants.

Uncharted image 1

While a development of this nature does little to disprove arguments that Drake’s Fortune bears more than a passing resemblance to the aforementioned film/video game franchises, it was nevertheless an intelligent move on the part of Naughty Dog. It gave the writers a far greater level of creative freedom than they’d otherwise have had if events were grounded in the real world and, more importantly for the rest of the series, it added a layer of unpredictability and mystique that ensured players could never be 100% sure what was going to happen in the inevitable sequels. Anything was possible.

Among Thieves – Train Sequence

Starting in media res with a wounded Nate regaining consciousness only to find himself trapped within a ruined train carriage that, just for good measure, also happens to be dangling precipitously over the side of a cliff, Nate’s dramatic escape from this precarious situation at the very beginning of Among Thieves is worthy of attention in its own right.

However, combined with the masterful action sequence that precedes it and you have, rather fittingly, arguably the series’ best set-piece in arguably the series’ best game.

From Nate’s heroic leap onto a moving train at the very beginning, to the numerous fire-fights that ensue as he battles his way through waves of Russian megalomaniac Lazarevic’s goons in an effort to save raven-haired heroine Chloe Frazer – which, by the way, includes a white-knuckle battle against an attack helicopter – and the aforementioned daring escape at the beginning of the game, this astonishing and utterly breathless sequence showcases Uncharted at its wonderfully histrionic, unique best.

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Not that’s it’s perfect, mind you. Aside from the all-too-frequent railway signals that obtrusively interrupt the action mid-flow and give the player yet one more thing to contend with, the sheer amount of destruction Nate causes during this scene is a prime example of the Ludonarrative dissonance that so conspicuously and at times disconcertingly permeates the series.

Still, why let morality get in the way of a heroic action scene. After all, no one cares about the thousands of individuals who die at the hands of Luke Skywalker when he demolishes the Death Star at the climax of A New Hope, do they?

Drake’s Deception – Sully’s Demise?

In a game that features what is for my money the best opening scene of any Uncharted game, not to mention a spectacular cruise ship escape sequence in chapter 15, the most dramatic moment in the entire game as far as I’m concerned is Sully’s apparent murder at the hands of sickeningly smug secondary antagonist Talbot.

Now, you’d be justified in arguing the fact we discover the whole incident was nothing more than a horrible fever dream concocted by Nate’s drug-addled mind; that Sully is, in fact, actually safe and sound only a chapter or 2 later significantly lessens the emotional impact of what would otherwise be a seminal moment in the series. However, those few brief minutes during which it genuinely appears the roguish old adventurer is indeed the victim of a sudden, cold-blooded assassination are some of Uncharted’s most poignant.

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Especially as, prior to the seemingly tragic events, Elena has been vociferous in her concern for the well-being of a visibly older Sully, admonishing Nate for bringing him along on such a physically demanding journey at his age. An interesting narrative thread that suggests, quite plausibly, something terrible might befall the legend that is Victor Sullivan before the end credits begin to role. Besides, Naughty Dog had already faked his death in Drake’s Fortune: surely it wouldn’t pull a stunt like that for a second time, right?

Maybe it’s just me but, even during repeated playthroughs, I still feel a slight twinge of apprehension when the seemingly fatal shot is fired. A testament to the quality of Amy Hennig’s writing and the performances of actors Nolan North and Richard McGonagle.

A Thief’s End – The Climactic Duel

Probably my favourite game in the entire series, Uncharted’s most recent iteration contains plenty of amazing scenes worthy of adulation. However, rather bizarrely, the one that resonates with me more than any other is the boss battle at the conclusion of A Thief’s End; an encounter that, from a purely mechanical perspective, is at best forgettable, at worst downright bad.

But, while the mechanics of the fight itself jar rather unpleasantly with the rest of the game, the emotional build up to this confrontation sets it apart, helped considerably by Naughty Dog’s insistence prior to release that A Thief’s End would be Nathan Drake’s final adventure (hence the title). Naturally leading us as fans to speculate what sort of end the developer had in mind.

Due equally to their choice of weapon (pirate cutlasses) and the wider setting, the QTE-style duel is a tense, intimate encounter between an increasingly maniacal Rafe Adler and Nate. Sam is indisposed, trapped as he is beneath a pile of debris amidst the burning wreckage of Avery’s treasure-laden ship while just moments before badass mercenary Nadine Ross abandoned her erstwhile employer, realising she’s already lost far more than she can hope to gain from the expedition.

Obviously, we expect Nate to come out on top one way or another and indeed our expectations are promptly met, however, given the perilousness of the situation and everything that’s gone before, the survival of the brother’s Drake once Rafe has been defeated is far from guaranteed.

Uncharted image 4

I remember being convinced there were only a handful of likely outcomes as the first sword stroke fell, one of which, due to my habitually pessimistic disposition, seemed appreciably less plausible than the others. I firmly believed either Nate would die in the process of successfully extricating his brother from the burning vessel, or, alternatively, Sam would somehow manage to persuade his younger sibling to leave him behind, sacrificing himself so that Nate would have the opportunity to rebuild his life with Elena. The third – the one I had so little hope in – was that somehow, someway Nate would find an ingenious, undoubtedly far-fetched solution to their predicament that would save them both from incineration.

Suffice it to say I was indescribably relieved when, in true Uncharted fashion and despite all the obstacles in their path, Nate uses a conveniently place cannon to blow a hole in the ship’s hull, precipitating an influx of water that helps him simultaneously free Sam and escape the ship, allowing the series to finish on a gloriously happy note, capped off by a highly satisfying epilogue.

Hopefully, this list will stimulate some friendly discussion in the comments; I for one relish any opportunity to talk about a series as remarkable as Uncharted.

And be sure to check back in a couple of weeks’ time when our review of The Lost Legacy is published. Perhaps we can renew the conversation then.

Counting Final Fantasy VII, The Last of Us, the original Mass Effect trilogy, and The Witcher 3 amongst his favourite games, John enjoys anything that promises to take up an absurdly large amount of his free time. When he’s not gaming, chances are you’ll find him engrossed in a science fiction or fantasy novel; basically, John’s happiest when his attention is as far from the real world as possible.

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‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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Games

‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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