HomeGenreActionUncharted: Golden Abyss Review

Uncharted: Golden Abyss Review

The front touchscreen doesn’t hog all of the gameplay mechanics. The rear touch pad gets in the action with various features. One of them happens to be the zoom feature on both Drake’s camera and the sniper rifle. Moving one’s finger up and down the rear touch pad will zoom in and out of the item in question. The camera is a first for the series. Players will have to take exact replicas of photographs identified in Drake’s journal in order to solve various mysteries in the game. Another feature of rear touch is rope climbing. The player moves both fingers down the touch pad parallel to each other, similar to the hand motion of climbing a rope. Motion control comes into play when Drake crosses a beam for balance, swinging on a rope and aiming.

With all of these features packed into the game, it is great to see that not all of them are enforced. A lot of the actions, including core gameplay, can be executed using traditional controls. However, not all touch controls have a physical counterpart. Another first in the series, Drake carries a machete for cutting through certain bushes. All of the slashing must be executed with a pre-determined pattern that the player must follow on the touch screen. The pattern mimics Drake’s swings with the machete. Other touch only controls include charcoal rubbings, some melee attacks and even rowing a canoe with Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan. Some of them do feel natural, however, others one could live without. The problem is that Bend Studios crammed in every feature they could cram in. This affects the flow of the game and brings out an uncharacteristic design for the series. Good thing, then, that these events a far and few, except when two characters have to reach higher ground or open a heavy door.

The game also lacks any online multiplayer capabilities, so no online gunfights here. Instead, the game has a feature known as the Black Market. Here the players can trade any collectible items they have gathered throughout the game and trade with other players with the Vita’s “Near” function. These items can be traded for rare ones and helping the player complete any uncompleted collections, which is great for Trophy lovers. For some reason, I have a theory that some online multiplayer functionality could have increased the amount of players for Golden Abyss. However, the game does not necessarily need it, as it does provide a satisfying single player experience.

Despite having a few annoyances, the gameplay ticks most of the boxes. Those who love the console series will appreciate the effort Bend Studios has put in to emulate that experience for those who would want it on their bus, train or late night game time. The core mechanics remain untouched yet exciting while some of the mechanics that use the Vita specific features do feel natural and not gimmicky for the most part. Some do get annoying or frustrating and could have been left out.


Uncharted: Golden Abyss is one of the most impressive handheld games in terms of the visuals, let alone a Playstation Vita title. Everything benefits from the natural brightness of the OLED screen. The environments are well-developed, with bright and vivid colours, well known in the Uncharted series. The jungles of Central America are the centre stage for the setting, as well as a few temples and tombs. However, only expect that, as Drake does not stray into other types of terrain such as snowy mountains or blistering deserts. It does get old quite a bit and there will be times when you will go down the same path in reverse.

The character models are the best in any handheld game out there. Drake looks great, with high detail from his hair to his feet. The other major players also receive the same treatment. The enemies also look great; however, expect some recycled goons at certain stages. Also, depending on what difficulty level you play on, expect some tough AI. Even on easy, the AI will often get into cover to avoid your gunfire. However, sniper goons will be easy to pick off since they stupidly stand in the open.


Music and audio plays a big part in the series due to its relation to the story and Golden Abyss is no exception to the rule. The soundtrack is inspired by both the natural ambiance of the jungle and the adventure within the game. The soundtrack is beautiful; I am in love with it. The theme that always gets me, however, is the Uncharted theme. Yes, it does make a return in Golden Abyss at the title screen and the main menu. This is a great track which sums up what Uncharted is about: a great adventure full of suspense and action. Never knowing what lies ahead for the characters.

The voice acting must also come under the microscope and it exceeds my expectations. Nolan North returns as Nathan Drake, a decision I must applaud. North nails Drake in the console series and it is great to see him reprising the role in a spin off title and not someone else. Then again, there is only Nathan Drake. Newcomers Christine Lakin (as Marisa Chase) and Jason Spisak (as Jason Dante) also perform admirably in their respective roles. All three nailed their characters and the performance is top notch.


Anyone who plans to buy the Playstation Vita must buy Uncharted: Golden Abyss as their first game. The gameplay is top notch, with excellent use of the Vita specific-features for the most part. Some of those gameplay features could have been left out or assigned a corresponding physical button. The story, while not the quality of the Naughty Dog stories, will still enchant the player through Drake’s world before the events of Drake’s Fortune, with lovable characters and beautiful settings. The visuals are nothing short of spectacular. The best any handheld has produced period, although expect a lot of old buildings and trees. The soundtrack can only be described as beautiful, with the voice acting top notch. Of course, online multiplayer would have been nice, but I felt it wasn’t necessary. Ladies and gentlemen, if this is what the first portable Uncharted can achieve, just think of the possibilities of a second one on the Vita. This is the killer launch title of the Vita. This is the one of the best portable experience in the history of portable gaming.


Joshua Spudic
Joshua Spudic
Josh is the name, writing is my game... well my degree will say that. But, when uni gets me down (and it does), there is no better way that to grab a chair, sit back and slicing up some DarkspawnI started my gaming interest back in the good old 16 bit era with the Sega Mega Drive and Sonic The Hedgehog 2. I was roughly five years old. To this day I still try to fire up the dusty companion and speed through the wacky and bright levels, jumping on some Badniks, collecting those damn Chaos Emeralds. Then I moved onto Sony's disk based console the Playstation (thanks to my uncle). Since then I have picked up each of Sony's consoles from the 5th to current generation that has been released in Australia (with more to come).In terms of writing about games, I am quite new to the field. I started out late last year with my own blog before deciding to move to greener pastures. I have written a few reviews for the Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable. Features as well. I hope I can flex my muscles while writing with Capsule Computers.If I'm not gaming, however, I'm writing narratives. I am currently trying to kickstart a high fantasy novel (which, hopefully, turns into a complex RPG) that I want done in five years or so. My passion of writing has been there for a long time and has flourished as I grew. I'm into the fantasy genre, both games and novels, and thoroughly enjoy a deep and complex RPG, whether it comes from the East or West.Oh and anime is awesome!