Updated: Aug 31, 2019
Play this iconic theme as you read to get into an adventurous mood and channel your inner Indiana Jones/Nathan Drake.
P.S. I go from feeling invincible to being on the verge of tearing up while listening to this, so be ready for an emotional rollercoaster.
Sic parvis magna.
Greatness from small beginnings.
If you've been a longtime fan of the PlayStation exclusive Uncharted video game franchise by developer Naughty Dog, who's also behind critically acclaimed zombie survival game The Last of Us, this Latin saying will probably make you tear up, smile, or both. When I finally reached the ending of the final game in the series, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, and saw the quote written on the page of one of Nathan Drake's journals beneath photographs of beloved characters, I felt a surge of sadness and pride at seeing the story I'd been following since I was 10 come to a fulfilling conclusion.
My family and I have always loved the treasure hunting genre, watching movies such as National Treasure starring Nicholas Cage over and over again, and playing Lego Indiana Jones on our Play Station 3. When my dad and I, who are both avid history buffs, stumbled on the Uncharted games later on, we immediately fell in love, for what could be better than solving puzzles and unveiling historical conspiracies to gain entrance into lost cities like Atlantis? I've had to wait several years to finally play Uncharted 4, however, which was released in 2016. After a long campaign which spanned the last 3 years, I was finally able to convince my dad to get a PlayStation 4 by essentially telling him that I was going to be a couch potato for most of the summer anyway, and that this would be the perfect time to play the games I never had time to in the past. In a way, though, waiting until I was 18 and home from my freshman year at college to experience the end of Nathan Drake's story felt fitting, as if I too was looking back on my childhood and growing to be a better person. In addition, being able to play through such an exciting, visually stunning Indiana Jones-esque adventure alongside my parents, who watched me play and gave sometimes unwanted commentary, was a great way to spend time with them, for we would laugh, scream, and gasp in awe together as I free climbed steep rock faces in Madagascar and traversed secret underground pirate lairs filled with treacherous puzzles and death traps.
I knew this would be a legendary game just from experiencing the combination of beautiful artwork/animation, references to previous games, and new version of Nate's theme music in the intro.
While Uncharted 4 was comfortably familiar, bringing back a beloved cast of characters who are as swashbuckling and lovable as ever, it definitely felt like a conclusion in that by the end, I felt like I had nothing left to experience. As the most grounded and emotional Uncharted yet, the game emphasized the fact that even the near-invincible treasure hunter Nathan Drake was vulnerable, and was coming to terms with the fact that the time had come for him to settle down and cherish his time with is family. In addition to having some of the most beautiful and detailed graphics I've ever seen in a game, making me feel fully immersed in the beautiful worlds, Uncharted 4 also added a host of new anxiety-inducing mechanics, such as free climbing and using a grappling hook to swing from one mile-high cliff to another. The plot of the game itself, which centered around the lost pirate utopia Libertalia and the stories of legendary pirates such as Henry Avery, also contributed to bringing Nate's story full circle, as he and his brother Sam were finally able to finish the work of their late mother, archaeologist and historian Cassandra Morgan. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the pirates and solving the puzzles themed around them, as well as exploring the fictional land of Libertalia, which was so artfully designed I felt like it might be out in the world somewhere. Upon reaching the epilogue of the game, I was given the most satisfying ending possible, the ability to play as Nate's daughter Cassie many years in the future, in which their family lives in a beautiful beach house filled with the treasures they've collected over the years.
If you have a PlayStation 4 and haven't played Uncharted, or have never played a console game before, you're definitely missing out, for it has proven that video games are an art form capable of impacting people in ways as powerful as movies, books, or music. They are at their best when they capitalize on their ability to combine elements of all these forms and give you, the player, agency. So as you take your character through beautiful, mysterious worlds and perform magnificent feats of intellect and strength, you will feel that you too achieved greatness from small beginnings.