As you stagger out of a cave and into the middle chapter of Uncharted's latest incarnation, your eyes can't help but fix on what's ahead of you.

Across a vast cavern, two gigantic statues loom in the distance. As you step out of the cave, the gloom clears and you realise they're two elephant statues decked out with gaudy jewellery and clutching goofy staffs.

Covered in moss and vines with waterfalls gushing behind them, they look amazing and ridiculous, and it's virtually impossible not to pause at the edge of the cliff you're standing on and gaze around in wonder.

You can, if you want to, pull out your phone, give the camera a wry wink, and take a selfie.

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A scene from chapter five of Naughty Dog's Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.
A scene from chapter five of Naughty Dog's Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

In any other situation, those giant structures would be background scenery worth gawking at before you get on with the game.

In Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the fifth incarnation of Naughty Dog's series that delivers stunning ruins with the detail of a BBC nature documentary, those structures are the game.

Yes, they're fully playable, and your next task as treasure hunter Chloe Frazer is to use grappling hooks, pick axes, ledges, vines, ropes and anything else you can get your hands on to get around both elephants, trunks, staffs and all, and head up top for even more stunning views.

It's an incredible moment in what has already been an incredible game. By that point, in chapter five of nine, you've already hooked up with fellow adventurer Nadine Ross, navigated a tense meeting with the game's villain Asav, found a fair few treasures and trinkets, and survived a rooftop thieving escapade that ends in a hail of bullets and explosions.

Nadine Ross and Chloe Frazer from Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.
Nadine Ross and Chloe Frazer from Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

You will have also navigated the game's biggest chapter, The Western Ghats, a first in the Uncharted series in that it allows Nadine and Chloe to free roam through jungle ruins in a Jeep, tracking enemies, solving puzzles, and searching for treasure in an open world segment that can be completed in any order. It's kind of like the best Far Cry game you've ever played, if Far Cry had female leads and didn't require you to shoot everything in sight.

Yes, this version of Uncharted is missing Nathan Drake. Yes, its linear, movie-style structure isn't for those used to open world adventures. Some of its best bits - getaway runs, building collapses and car chases - are ripped straight from other Uncharted games. A couple of the puzzles will seem eerily familiar to Tomb Raider fans. Some of the one-liners are a bit naff. You might find Nadine's running style a bit janky.

But half an hour in, none of that really matters. The Lost Legacy piles one adventure on top of another, creating an adrenaline rush that you can't really stop. At one point, you'll find yourself riding an elephant through the jungle. Why? The answer to every question Naughty Dog asked of themselves throughout this game seems to be, "Why the hell not?"

"Hard to believe it's real," says Chloe while gazing at those monster elephant structures, her hand on her forehead, her eyes as wide as they can go. Yep, got that right.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Platform: Playstation 4
Rating: R13
Stars: Five
Verdict: An adventure game like no other