Soundtrack review: Uncharted: The lost legacy (Henry Jackman – 2017)
“Uncharted: The Lost Legacy” is an action-adventure video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Released in August 2017 for the PlayStation 4, it is a standalone expansion to the Uncharted series, and is the first game not to feature series protagonist Nathan Drake. The game follows fortune hunter Chloe Frazer, who seeks the Tusk of Ganesh in the mountains of India in the midst of a civil war, with the help of ex-mercenary Nadine Ross and Nathan’s brother Sam Drake. The game is played from a third-person perspective; players use firearms, and can use melee combat and stealth to defend against hostile enemies. Players solve puzzles, incorporating several platformer elements to advance the narrative, and navigate the game world on foot or by vehicle. The music, as usual for this franchise, was written by Henry Jackman. I have played a couple of Uncharted games and they are very fun.
It’s rare that I review a game score that I’ve actually experienced in context; I am not much of a gamer, not in the last few years anyway so I base my considerations about how the music sounds in context from gameplay videos. “Uncharted” is different though and Henry Jackman has created a special sound for the franchise, a lean and alert thriller sound with a touch of tribal since most of the action happens in jungles all over the worlds. The action music in “Uncharted” is not epic or heavy as to affect the gameplay or take the attention away from it; it’s just alert enough as to motivate the player and be an entertaining companion.
Unfortunately the quieter suspenseful parts, the one that don’t deal with action but with infiltration and investigations are a bit lacklustre for me; they dwell in a tense place without doing much outside of the context. Even the theme for “Chloe Frazier” doesn’t make me want to take up an adventure with her. I am trying to find something immersive in cues like “The western Ghasts” but I just feel the need to skip forward. Even a cue titled “The big battle” is weak and way too quiet. Maybe this time Henry Jackman didn’t want to disturb the jungle soundscape with his music. There are cello or piano motifs with which I manage to connect but they too get lost in the score.
“Ambushed” finally wakes this composition up with some action rattling. “The tusk of Ganesh” which should be the centre piece of this score brings some emotional ambience and I finally have a cue to love in “The lost legacy”. This is the Henry Jackman I know and love. I guess I just didn’t play the game enough to get in touch with what the composer tried to do because as a standalone listen I just didn’t enjoy this score as much as I wanted. It just lingered in the background, quiet and forgettable and I expected much more given that I really enjoyed “A thief’s end”.
Cue rating: 68 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 4 / 62
Album excellence: 6%
The Tusk of Ganesh