Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review - absolutely beautiful and still great fun to play

★★★★ UNCHARTED: THE LOST LEGACY The new spin-off is a gorgeous, sprawling Indian treasure hunt – and cut-price too

We’ve been here before, May last year to be exact. The lead characters are different but the locations look much the same. We’re still swinging on ropes, jumping into duck-and-cover gunplay, searching for lost treasures and solving rudimentary puzzles. But there’s no resentment for this premature trip down memory lane. This is, after all, an Uncharted game, a bulletproof, platinum-plated franchise that, just like a Strictly finalist, tries its hardest not to put a foot wrong.

This cut-price spin-off – at £25 it’s almost half the price of Uncharted 4 – represents the first stand-alone adventure in the long-running franchise, a story that follows treasure hunter Chloe Frazer on her journey to recover an ancient Indian artefact, keeping it out of the hands of a competing war profiteer. Nadine Ross, the ruthless mercenary from Uncharted 4: A Thief's End makes a return as Frazer’s partner in this sprawling treasure hunt set amidst the backdrop of a war-torn India.

But here’s the rub. There’s no new gameplay and many of the action sequences feel like they are lifted wholesale from previous Uncharted incarnations. The gunplay, melee combat, stealth and acrobatics work brilliantly – just as they did in every other Uncharted game. Equally, the rooftop chases, discovering hidden cities, exploring the terrain on jeeps, all great stuff, but it feels like we’ve been here before.

There’s a greater emphasis on the illusion of open-world gameplay; the Western Ghats hub area is littered with ruins to explore, some containing primary story objectives while others offer optional side quests. It’s still an ultimately on-rails experience, unlike the big name open worlders like Horizon Zero Dawn or The Witcher 3, but the setting does at least step out from the shadow of previous Uncharted games.

At a running time of around eight hours, this spin-off does justify stand-alone status, but listening to this review, it sounds like we’re making excuses for the lack of innovative gameplay. The thing is, it’s still an Uncharted game, it is still absolutely beautiful and still great fun to play.

So, nothing new, but who fixes a ticking clock? And a ticking clock is an apt description for how long the developers can roll out identical Uncharted-branded titles, until both time and gamers' patience runs out.