Like just about anyone who’s played around with the excellent Tomb Raider GO, I expected UNCHARTED: Fortune Hunter to be rather derivative of Lara Croft’s puzzle game. Kinda like how the two main series have progressed in general, really. But while Fortune Hunter is undeniably a puzzle game about loot collecting, it’s different enough (and good enough) to stand on its own.
Fortune Hunter follows series mainstays/protagonists Drake and Sully as they hunt down all sorts of treasures and lost relics. Well, Drake does all the hunting. Sully just kind of watches over him and makes smart-aleck comments.
The goal of each level is to reach whatever object is sitting on top of the golden “X.” These objects can earn you gold, lots of gold, or scraps that will lead you to new relics (i.e. new areas with more puzzles) if you manage to gather them all. Of course it’s not as simple as moving from Point A to Point B. Lots of hazards, switches, and other obstacles will get in Drake’s way.
Much like other turn-based games, most of the action only happens when Drake moves. What’s a little bit different is that it’s only when he moves – interacting with switches and things like that won’t affect anything else. It gives you a bit more leeway when it comes to approaching each puzzle because you can toggle things back and forth as much as you want with no risk of running out of moves or getting shot with darts. You might think that this makes the game too easy, but you need to be next to a switch to operate it (or have a clear line of sight in order to shoot other puzzle triggers), so you still have to move most of the time.
Speaking of movement, Fortune Hunter also utilizes an interesting reward system that’s based around how many total move actions Drake takes in a level. Being held to a specific move count (either to earn bonuses or simply to succeed) isn’t anything new, sure, but the keys you’ll earn from completing each level fast enough actually have purpose. Rather than simply giving you a fancy icon on the map that indicates your victory, keys may also be turned in to Sully in order to open loot boxes. These loot boxes contain all sorts of goodies such as more gold, premium currency (called Mystical Orbs), or even unlocks for Uncharted 4.
Right, about that; you can connect Fortune Hunter to Uncharted 4 by signing in to your PlayStation account, which will then transfer things like multiplayer outfits, hats, relics, and so on to the console game. It’s nothing I’d consider an essential feature, but it’s a cool little bonus for sure.
The difficulty could use a bit more balancing, though. Things start off a bit too easy, and stay that way for a while. The puzzles do get tougher, but the curve is a little too gradual for my liking. And then it suddenly spikes right towards the end of a given area, which is also somewhat irritating. Thankfully there’s absolutely no penalty for failing or retrying a level. No wait timers, no getting locked out of a stage, and no being forced to spend money (in-game or real) to continue. About the only issue I have with restarting is that there’s this odd moment (it lasts a second or two) right as a level begins where you won’t be able to move Drake at all. You have to wait for him to finish his “Let’s do this” animation (or whatever you want to call it) first. In small doses this is fine, but when you end up restarting a tough level over and over again it really starts to get annoying. Just let me jump back into it! UNCHARTED: Fortune Hunter isn’t the most intricate or satisfying puzzle game I’ve played, but it’s still quite enjoyable. I really like how earning keys in each stage has an actual purpose (beyond simply 100%-ing something), too. Though I do wonder how much longevity a puzzle game that’s meant to be a promotional tie-in to a console game will have. Still, it’s certainly worth checking out regardless of whether or not you own Uncharted 4.