I am new to Uncharted.

I didn't own a Playstation 3. This past summer I received a Playstation 4 as a birthday gift and my first game was Uncharted 4. While the references to the franchise's history zoomed past me, I quickly understood the series' appeal. The fleshed out characters who banter the entire game, the oversized yet detailed environments and the intricate puzzles that are just the right difficulty combine to create a remarkable game.  

Uncharted vistas only become even more fantastical further into the games. 

Then I played Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. It's my favorite game of 2017. Naughty Dog adroitly brought a series that began in 2007 into 2017.

I am a deaf woman. My first video games were floppy discs that I carefully kept in paper sleeves least I corrupt the saves for my growing lemonade stand empire.  

The beginning of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was a wholly unexpected experience that stands out in a year of memorable games.

Before the game began the game's menus were made available and the simple option gave me the opportunity to enable the subtitles. This simple option ensured I didn't miss the dialogue in the opening scenes.

Descriptions of audio cues in video game subtitles are nearly non-existent. If I can't hear the conversation, I also can't hear the non-verbal audio cues in conversations.  

The game opened with Chloe Frazer, a main character, perusing a market in India. Immediately I noticed that the subtitles included name tags and sound descriptions such as "(laughs)," "(scoffs)" and "(sighs)." Personally, I struggle so much with nonverbal audio cues in actual conversations that those in my life will verbally state their feelings to me because I cannot differentiate between their scoffs and sighs. The cinematic nature of Uncharted's cut scenes and the detailed subtitles let me settle into playing a game that made me feel as if I inhabited its world rather than merely observing it. 

Chloe left the market and walked along seedy streets replete with side conversations amongst the NPCs. The subtitles kept me abreast of the dangerous environment of rebel insurgents arresting citizens. Suddenly, I wandered through a checkpoint and an insurgent grabbed me for a lascivious pat down. In the midst of an already uncomfortable situation, a nearby lieutenant asked me where I lived and upon my lack of response he said, "What, are you deaf?"

I was stunned. Years ago I remarked to my wife that "What are you deaf?" was no longer a popular saying. She scoffed and said that it's used all the time but just not in my presence.

This in-game moment was the first time in years that I heard the phrase. In my newfound comfort within a gaming world, the insult felt personal. Then I felt the appreciation of having access to the greater world with its warts and all.

Compiling the accessibility features into a dedicated menu makes it so much easier to find needed options. 

Access into Uncharted: The Lost Legacy isn't only for me. Third person action games are notoriously inaccessible for players with fine motor disabilities. The genre uses every button on the controller, including assigning multiple actions to a single button, and requires two handed gameplay.

Naughty Dog's response to Uncharted franchise's systemic barriers to players with fine motor disabilities was to tackle the problem, rather than dismiss it as genre conventions. As a result, Naughty Dog created inventive solutions to old problems. On top of straightforward solutions such as camera assist and vehicle camera assist that removes the need to control the camera. Naughty Dog allows quick time events to be completed by holding down the button or by tapping it repeatedly. Even further, within the controls the player can change the layouts for additional commands available while aiming such as marking enemies or zooming in with a scope. 

All of these options, including subtitles, are available in the menu within an accessibility tab which is a rare act of inclusion within video games.

Women wear t-shirts and jeans while treasure hunting, reasonableness abounds!

On top of the game's accessibility are the two female protagonists, Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross. Following the Drake brothers in Uncharted 4, Chloe and Nadine reminded me of how so very many games feature male leads. In fact, in jeans and short sleeve t-shirts, Chloe and Nadine are two women climbing, sliding and swinging on ropes to the Tusk of Ganesh. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy gave me an Uncharted game where instead of missing Nathan, I wanted to keep the spotlight on Chloe and Nadine.  

I am excited for Chloe and Nadine's next Uncharted adventure. Wherever artifact Chloe and Nadine unearth, I'll be a part of the treasure hunt because Naughty Dog has made a space for me.

Thank you for returning to this space with me after a year in which I was largely silent. I'll gladly wind down 2017. I look forward to playing my ever growing video game backlog in 2018 and then writing about those game experiences.

What was your favorite game that you played in 2017?

What game in your backlog do you most want to play next?

What game do you most look forward to in 2018?