“Sic Parvis Magna”

At this point, all there is to be said about Naughty Dog’s last hurrah with the mainline Uncharted series, has been discussed to death, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that A Thief’s End is one of the best games of the generation. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a rare body of work, taking what made the series resonate years ago and expanding on it by breaking new ground thought to be untouchable. It isn’t afraid to go places previously shied away from in the franchise, and in doing so, creates what is, without a shadow of doubt, the series’ best narrative efforts. A Thief’s End is a marvel of an experience and a masterclass in design, assembling into a phenomenal conclusion for one of gaming’s proudest icons. It manages to strengthen each of its predecessors with smart moments of emotional reflection, while simultaneously making a strong case for being one of the best action games ever made. 1-uncharted-4-goty-2016-braxton-haugen-imageWith the events of Drake’s Deception a chapter of the past, a sizable amount of time has elapsed since we’ve seen the fortune hunter, Nathen Drake in action. A lot has changed since his days of jumping from exploding planes and escaping sinking cruise ships. Instead, A Thief’s End shows Drake leading a somewhat normal life, clocking in at his day job and reminiscing on former adventures. From a structural standpoint, Uncharted 4 is built off of the narrative basis of a straightforward adventure to fulfill a bounty, yet the grounded mood and sophistication of its characters and plot organization, lead it to places where the storytelling is all but unprecedented. Naughty Dog has accomplished something special with Uncharted 4, managing to dive into the psyche of its cast in ways that are emotionally revealing and powerful. At its heart, A Thief’s End is ultimately about obsession and how far someone would go for those they love. This is a strikingly more realistic and adult iteration of the popcorn Uncharted we’re used to, and while it can be jarring at first, it doesn’t take long to settle into the refined cadence which drives the journey. Simply put, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a remarkable, exhilarating, and confident representation of what video games can be, and the poignant stories they can tell.

Excerpt from review (10/10):

“Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a hallmark of excellence and a shining example amongst its peers. Ripe with achievements substantial enough to send-off any body of narrative work with a bang, Uncharted 4 is a fitting and finite conclusion to one of gamings’ more important series. Greed, selfishness, and the desires that drive who we are, are thematic beats A Thief’s End’s makes its forte. Rarely has a game executed upon its narrative ambitions with such a concrete and mature understanding of its scope and cast of diverse characters. In its respectful exploration of the people who drive the series, Uncharted 4 confidently dives into Nathen’s relationships with those around him. By exposing the truth behind lies and explaining the unwavering love of a passion, Naughty Dog has brought the franchise to a touching and impactful close, one in which goes above and beyond giving its characters a fitting goodbye. Nothing about A Thief’s End feels phoned in or taken too far. There’s no blatant setup for an unnecessary sequel down the road or plot thread left unraveled. What we’re left with is a gorgeous and fulfilling adventure that leaves its mark with an exceptional serving of poignancy and resolve. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is worth its weight in gold, and then some.”

Note: This concludes my personal GOTY coverage for 2016. Happy New Year everyone!

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