Precision. If there was an overarching thesis statement for what the Uncharted series is, it is exactly that: precision. There is not a single hair out of place, not a line not delivered as it was meant or a character not fleshed out as intended. That’s not to say they are perfect games, but even the flaws seem like they are some sort of errant countenance.
It just so happens, then, that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the culmination of all those lessons in how to make the right with as little wrong as possible. It is the fully deserved conclusion to Nathan Drake’s story, a magnum opus to a force of the industry. It puts a beautiful, thoughtful pin on almost a decade of almost literally defining cinematic storytelling in gaming.
And that’s where the game truly leaves its mark. The gameplay of the series hasn’t exactly gone stagnant; it’s still extraordinarily fun to clamber around like a hollow-boned monkey and shoot bad guys with an inexplicably large and ever-growing arsenal. And this game absolutely has the best the franchise has to offer, cutting the cruft and honing in on the vertical and lateral freedom that the best of the series has ever concocted.
But that’s besides the point (to an almost hilarious degree). It’s impossibly meditative, fully ruminating on the growth of the characters, the studio, and the industry at large. And it does so in a heartfelt and thorough way, exposing many of the flaws that make them all counterintuitively look flawless. The happy-go-lucky existence of Nathan, the foolish promises of happy endings, a life that stands apart from living.
It’s simply incredible how purposeful and meaningful these quandaries emerge throughout the game. I will say that I don’t think all of them go far enough to their sometimes melancholy logical conclusions, but the mere fact that they are there is astounding, especially for a triple-A, explosion-filled, nigh bombastic product such as this. And that’s why Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the number three game of the year.