In the beginning of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Nathan Drake is approached by Harry Flynn, an old acquaintance, who proposes that he and Nathan team up to steal a valuable artifact from a museum. Nathan refuses to participate; he believes the job requires three people, not two. This is when we meet Chloe Frazer, a reputable get-away driver, treasure-hunter, and capable woman who is plagued by working with Nathan.
The Lost Legacy is an important game because it finally frees Chloe of Nathan Drake. Originally meant to be downloadable content for the fourth game, A Thief’s End, The Lost Legacy is a standalone title about Chloe Frazer and Nadine’s Ross’s quest for the lost tusk of Ganesh. The Lost Legacy may be a shorter game compared to others in the series, but within those hours is a strong story about two women who always had the knowledge and power to hunt for treasure, they just neverbut never had got an opportunity to use it because they’ve been stuck working for someone else.
Originally introduced as Nathan’s love interest in Among Thieves, Chloe is introduced as a flirtatious and deceitful woman. Chloe tells Nathan that her relationship with Harry is “mostly” professional, but once they find the treasure and get the money, she intends on leaving Harry and running off with Nathan. While there’s nothing inherently bad about a flirty woman, the game uses Chloe’s sexuality as a joke and as a way to pit her against the other main woman in the series, Elena Fisher.
Narratively, the two women are foils. Elena’s wholesome charm and honest personality conflicts with Chloe’s flirtatious and cutthroat personality. Even the villain, Zoran Lazarevi?, reinforces the rivalry between the two when Zoran forces Nathan to pick a woman to save. Luckily, Nathan saves them both without choosing, but the conversation confirms that the two women are for Nathan to choose between. When Nathan tells Chloe he still loves Elena, this places Chloe ins the best position. She’s no longer used as a potential love interest, and no longer pitted against or paired with someone. It’s the perfect opportunity for her character to grow.
Unfortunately, in the third game, Drake’s Deception,, Chloe’s personality never gets an opportunity to shine. Once again Nathan is globetrotting for treasure and needs Chloe’s help, but has to share the spotlight again with another person, Charlie Cutter. Chloe’s role in Drake’s Deception is small, as she eventually backs away from the expedition when Charlie is injured. Once she leaves, Nathan partners again with Elena Fisher, who he once again rekindles his relationship with. Other than in multiplayer, Chloe isn’t in the fourth title A Thief’s End..
It’s been six years since we last saw Chloe in Drake’s Deception.. Among all the characters in the series, Chloe has felt the most underdeveloped. Among Thieves introduced her as a ferocious character, but her motivation hasis always been determined by someone else’s actions. In The Lost Legacy,, Chloe can finally show off her charm and her skills, along with a fellow bad-woman-turned-good, Nadine Ross.
Like Chloe, Nadine Ross is also a woman consistently placed in a position of dependence. In A Thief’s End, Nadine is the leader of a private military known as Shoreline. She and her army are hired by villain Rafe Adler, who is racing against Nathan and Sam Drake to find pirate Henry Avery’s treasure. Between her own strength, and the strength of her men, Nadine is a strong force. But without the help of Adler, Nadine is in the same position as Chloe’s, stuck following a man obsessed with finding ancient, potentially cursed, treasure.
When both women leave, they’re allowed to work on their own terms. They’re no longer the love interest or the strong henchman. They’re each are their own person working together for their own interests.
Of course, the storyline is not perfect. And as wonderful it is to see two women bond over their lives and shared experiences, the game still falls into a few tropes.
Fitting with the theme of legacy, Chloe and Nadine bond over the fact that they’re both in their line of business because of their fathers. Nadine inherited Shoreline after her father died, and likewise, Chloe started to hunt for treasure because her father, who died when bandits attacked him during his search for the same tusk Chloe hunts for in the game.
Chloe and Nadine’s narratives are a little too easy, not only because they’re so similar, but because too often stories make women ambitious because of their fallen fathers. To be fair, their backstory resembles Nathan’s, who believes he is a descendent of English pirate Sir Francis Drake. The difference is that Nathan did not fall into a line of thievery because of a close relative. In fact, Nathan’s relation to Sir Francis may not even be real. His obsession with finding treasure is something he places on himself, whereas Chloe and Nadine’s motivation was placed onto them. Not to mention that the two women have already been defined by their relationship to other men. This could have been a great opportunity to provide the two with new motivation that did not require men.
But one good thing about this story is that the ending provides the two with closure. Nadine decides she’s done with Shoreline and partners with Chloe as a treasure hunter. Chloe continues to hunt for treasure, but by finding the tusk and learning more about her father, she decides to hand the artifact to India’s Ministry of Culture, to help preserve India’s culture, like what her father would have wanted.
The Lost Legacy is definitely a game about girl power, but that power is in the fact that they can be themselves. There are so many moments where the women can laugh at their own past relationships. They aren’t ashamed of what they’ve done, but they recognize they’re also not the same people who madey previous choices. Chloe may not be as flirtatious, but she still has her charm that’s been with her since Among Thieves.. Likewise, Nadine is still a no-nonsense person, but there’s more to her than her strength. She has compassion and a deep interest in history that she simply hasn’t had a chance to use before.
The best part of The Lost Legacy is its quiet moments. In one scene, Chloe and Nadine find an elephant whose trapped underneath a collapsed column in a tunnel. Together, the two push the column off the elephant and take a ride on her back. As they ride, Chloe shares with Nadine what happened to her father, and admits that she’s, like her father, a “selfish dickhead.” Nadine forgives Chloe’s selfishness and admits she has struggles she needs to overcome. They become stronger friends, and stronger characters.
It may be jarring for some to see an Uncharted game without Nathan Drake as its lead, but Chloe proves that she’s exactly what the series is about, reconciling with the past and moving on. She’s more than a side kick, fling or some reputable getaway driver. She’s a woman with a past she needs to discover before she was movemoves beyond it, and to do that, she needed to get out of Nathan Drake’s clutches.
Shonté Daniels is a poet who occasionally writes about games. Her games writing has appeared in Kill Screen, Motherboard, Waypoint and elsewhere. Her poetry can be seen at Puerto del Sol, Baltimore Review, Phoebe, and others literary journals. Check out Shonte-Daniels.com a full archive, or follow her for sporadic tweeting.