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  • Fintan Davies

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – The Beginning of the Hero’s Journey

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

I’ve recently began studying narratology which is about studying narrative and its structure.

I’ve also been playing a narrative action-adventure game called Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. I’ve played past the point of the inciting incident and want to analyse it.

I’m going to detail the events that lead up to this and discuss what this aims to do in accordance with the Hero’s Journey. I will be referencing Amy Nicholson’s (2014) blog about the Hero’s Journey throughout.

The screenshots of the game are taken from Part 3 and 4 of my Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Without Music Playthrough (Games Without Music - 01, 2020) (Games Without Music - 02, 2020).

Fig. 01: The circle of the Hero’s Journey – Amy Nicholson (2014)


I will be referring to parts 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the circle of the Hero’s Journey (Fig. 01) according to Amy Nicholson (2014).

Fig. 02: My screenshot (Wrecked truck, 2020)

Fig. 03: My screenshot (Salvage boat, 2020)


· When we’re in the present day, Nate has retired from his life as a treasure hunter and now works for a salvage company (Fig. 03) (Games Without Music - 01, 2020, 00:00-07:00). The job that Nate does for the salvage company isn’t presented as anything exciting compared to his past adventures. (Fig. 02) This contrasts the ordinary world to the special world that Nate used to be in before the events of this game.

Fig. 04: My screenshot (Copper, 2020)


· He’s unimpressed by the wreckage that he salvages (Fig. 04) (Games Without Music - 01, 2020, 08:29-09:33). This is a sign that he isn’t satisfied with the life that he has in the ordinary world. This is so that, according to Amy Nicholson (2014), the audience can sympathise with Nate’s situation.

I also think it makes the audience anticipate Nate entering the special world. The appeal of this game is to experience thrilling action and adventure which this part of the game doesn’t provide for us. The audience desperately wants Nate to have an adventure so they can get what they want.

Fig. 05: My screenshot (Nate reacts to the call, 2020)


· Nate gets, according to Amy Nicholson (2014), a call to adventure from his employer Jameson which he refuses. (Fig. 05) (Games Without Music - 01, 2020, 09:43-10.57) Nate’s reaction to this call shows that this isn’t the first time Jameson asks him to do a job in Malaysia.

Nate’s reason to refuse is that Jameson doesn’t have the permits to do this job.

Fig. 06: My screenshot (The other files, 2020)


We find out in the next scene that Nate has a pile of jobs that’s he refused in the past. (Fig. 06) (Games Without Music - 01, 2020, 11:26-11:38) This shows that Nate has been dealing with external pressures which Amy Nicholson (2014) says is a component of the call to adventure.

Nate wants to lead a normal life without the danger of adventure, but his work keeps pressuring him to take that step into the special world.

Fig. 07: My screenshot (A collection of treasures, 2020)

Fig. 08: My screenshot (The toy gun, 2020)

Fig. 09: My screenshot (Nate stares at the painting, 2020)

Fig. 10: My screenshot (Painting of an island, 2020)


· Nate has a collection of treasures that he’s collected in the previous three games. (Fig. 07) (Games Without Music - 01, 2020, 11:43-15:28) He reminisces about them. He also plays with a toy gun to shoot at handmade targets which shows that he really misses the thrill of adventuring. (Fig. 08) (Games Without Music - 01, 2020, 15:33-16:22) Nate also gets distracted by a painting of an island whilst Elena is talking to him. (Fig. 10) (Games Without Music - 01, 2020, 18:28-18:51).

All of this shows another aspect of the call of adventure which Amy Nicholson (2014) describes as something rising up from deep within shakes up the situation. These collection of scenes shows that Nate is ready to cross the threshold into the special world. He just needs a little push which his brother, Sam, eventually gives him.

Fig. 11: My screenshot (Elena encourages Nate to take on the Malaysia job, 2020)


· Elena thinks that Nate should take on the Malaysia job, but he again refuses. (Fig. 11) (Games Without Music - 01, 2020, 19:45-20:31) His reasoning is that Jameson doesn’t have the permits and that he and Elena agreed to not take on that kind of work.

Nate also says that he’s not doing it because of Elena. I think Nate is avoiding the call for adventure because he knows he can get obsessed with the adventure and the danger that it provides. I also think he’s doing because if both he and Elena do another dangerous adventure, there’s a possibility that one or both of them will get killed. He wants to keep her safe.

Fig. 12: My screenshot (Sam visits Nate at his job, 2020)

· Sam Drake, previously presumed dead, visits Nate at his job. (Fig. 12) (Games Without Music - 01, 2020, 25:00-26:23) Sam informs Nate that when he escaped, Hector Alcazar threatened his life. He ordered Sam to get him half of Henry Avery’s treasure and if he isn’t able to do it in three months, he’ll have a fate worse than death. (Games Without Music - 01, 2020, 28:40-32:00. Games Without Music - 02, 2020, 07:45-11:11).

Sam asks that Nate help seek out Avery’s treasure with him. Nate refuses again. He instead recommends other people that he’s worked with before like Charlie Cutter.

Sam doesn’t trust anyone apart from Nate with his life. Nate is desperate for another way to save Sam. Sam says that there isn’t. (Games Without Music - 02, 2020, 12:52-13:48)

This moment is the inciting incident. Nate doesn’t know that Sam is lying (Santosx07 - 01, 2016, 01:51-05.06) so at this point he cannot see a way out of the situation and refuse it. His love for his brother drives his decision to save Sam.

Fig. 13 : My screenshot (Nate crosses the threshold, 2020)

It’s then that Nate crosses the threshold, leaving the ordinary world and entering the special world. (Fig. 13) (Games Without Music - 02, 2020, 14:12-14:48) This time however, he enters, according to Amy Nicholson (2014), a new condition with unfamiliar rules and values.

He enters the special world at a cost. He calls Elena and lies to her saying that Jameson has the permits and will be going to Malaysia. For the first time in the series, Nate will manipulate someone he cares about in order to, in his own words, both protect himself and to not lose Elena. (GameChin, 2016, 3:01:18-3:02:00)


This sets up a conflict that Nate will have to tackle on later in the story. (Santosx07 - 02, 2016, 01:36-06:25)

Reference list:

Blog

Nicholson, A. (2014) ‘The Hero’s Journey’, Amy Nicholson Blog, 14 December. Available at: https://www.amynicholson.net/blog/the-heros-journey (Accessed: 27 October 2020).

Online Videos

GameChin (2016) UNCHARTED 4 Full Movie All Cutscenes. 7 May. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpEFYDkpXE0&pbjreload=101 (Accessed: 28 October 2020).


Games Without Music - 01 (2020) Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Without Music – Part 3. 22 October. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed: 28 October 2020).

Games Without Music - 02 (2020) Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Without Music – Part 4. 24 October. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaEZwJ8dqFo&feature=youtu.be

(Accessed: 28 October 2020).


Santosx07 - 01 (2016) Uncharted 4 - Nathan Finds Out The Truth About Sam. May 9. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGfkmBKEUYU (Accessed: 28 October 2020).


Santosx07 - 02 (2016) Uncharted 4 - Elena Meets Sam / Elena Finds Nathan. May 10. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdDHJnqS32E (Accessed: 28 October 2020).


Screenshots


Wrecked truck (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).


Salvage boat (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).


Copper (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).


Nate reacts to the call (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).


The other files (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).


A collection of treasures (2020) [My screenshot]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be Available at: (Accessed 28 October 2020).


The toy gun (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).


Nate stares at the painting (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).


Painting of an island (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).


Elena encourages Nate to take on the Malaysia job (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).


Sam visits Nate at this job (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U1UzTfT6v8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).


Nate crosses the threshold (2020) [My screenshot]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaEZwJ8dqFo&feature=youtu.be (Accessed 28 October 2020).

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