Film scores

Soundtrack review: Uncharted 4 : A thief’s end (Henry Jackman – 2016)

uncharted

“Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” is an action-adventure third-person shooter video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 video game console. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is an action-adventure game played from a third-person perspective. It also includes elements commonly found in platform games. The player assumes control of Nathan Drake, who is physically adept and is able to jump, sprint, climb, swim, scale narrow ledges and wall-faces to get between points, swing with a rope, use a grappling hook and perform other acrobatic actions. Drake can use various firearms such as assault rifles, pistols and grenades to kill enemies. Stealth elements are incorporated into the game, allowing the player to sneak behind enemies and kill them without being noticed. Nathan Drake reunites with his older brother, Sam, and begins hunting for Captain Henry Avery’s long-lost treasure. Henry Jackman wrote the score.

I love game music because somehow it opens some extra doors in my imagination; if for a movie I am a spectator who can only imagine how he would act in the story, in a game I am already part of the story from the beginning, I influence it, I choose paths so the music is more immersive and is more of a companion than in a movie. “Uncharted 4” isn’t the kind of game score which creates a dreamy atmosphere that can numb my instincts; Henry Jackman’s music keeps me alert and follows me like a predator in the shadows. I know it’s there and the music keeps me on the edge even when it goes quiet like in the beautiful “Lure of adventure”. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever heard Henry Jackman use the flute.

The first action piece of the score, “Cut to the chase”, makes me smile as it sounds very Michael GIiacchino style both in the spectacular sound and because of the clever pun title. Yeah I’d love to play the game and hear this particular piece in context. It also makes me want more of the same and not have enough patience for the more tense cues from the score. I have to remember that this is a game score and pieces like “At sea” are meant to be just for the background.

I do enjoy the variety in “Uncharted 4”, from atmospheric pieces to tribal influences that make me think part of the action takes place in a jungle. The woodwind sections remind me of “Apocalypto” and other James Horner compositions so they bring a bit of nostalgia. They also help me imagine the atmosphere and setting better.

“Uncharted 4: A thief’s end” is a good mix of action, dark suspense and melody that makes for an enjoyable listening experience on its own. Add to that a couple of very good themes (the one for “The brothers Drake” is my favorite” and you got a score that for me it’s about at the same level as the most enjoyable of the Assassin’s Creed scores we’ve gotten lately. I can imagine it working very well in context.

Cue rating: 82 / 100

Total minutes of excellence:

Album excellence:

Highlights:

Lure of Adventure

Cut to the Chase

The Grave of Henry Avery

The Twelve Towers

The Thieves of Libertalia

The Brothers Drake

Race to Libertalia

For Better or Worse

Epilogue

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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