Can you believe Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is just around the corner? This April will finally see Playstation's everyman, Nathan Drake, hit the road one last time. He might not be the only Drake that fans will have their eyes on, however.
Sam and Nathan Drake, as we've been told so far, are brothers – of sorts. Sam, it seems, is as much of a mystery as his little brother. Where he comes from, what he wants, and where he was all these years are all questions Naughty Dog's will aim to answer in this final installment. Get out your pick axe and start digging, Uncharted fans. The hole goes mighty deep.
Potential spoilers follow.
Who is Sam Drake?
If we know anything about Sam, it's that he's a crack shot, a great driver, and nearly as talented of a treasure hunter. Game Informer's preview describes him as being "more reckless than [Nate] and a little jealous of his brother's achievements." That's no surprise when you're Nathan Drake's older brother. It would be a bigger surprise if Sam is his brother from another mother.
"I lost fifteen years, buried alive, erased," Sam tells us in the game's first teaser trailer. "You left me, rotting in that hell-hole and never looked back. But you can't outrun the past. And when it catches up, when all your lies collapse around you, I'll be there, sifting through the wreckage. You owe me."
The man Sam's talking to is Nate himself, who was forced to leave Sam behind, thinking he was dead. Sam claims the guards did this to make him pay for the guard's murder. If his face is anything to go by, prison wasn't very kind to him – but not enough to permanently estrange him from his brother. That he should be helping Nate from the game's start seems a bit out of character for someone who would be bent on revenge. It could be that Sam is more complicated than we think, if not a different character entirely than the one we were introduced to.
So Let it be Rewritten, So Let it be Done
Sam was originally voiced by actor Todd Stashwick of Gotham and Justified fame who had had reportedly completed his digital motion-capture performance mere months before the game's intended release last spring. He – along with series scribe Amy Hennig – would notably depart the project along with a host of their peers in the weeks to come due to alleged "creative differences" between Hennig and the studio. Sam would be swapped with the most overbooked actor in the industry, Troy Baker, a talented substitute.
The reason for this decision may have had to do with the fact that Stashwick's role was rewritten. It could also have been a visual choice for developer Naughty Dog. Combine Baker and Stashwick's faces and you get a good resemblance to the series' cigar-chomping comic relief: Victor "Sully" Sullivan. Put a mustache on Sam's face and the two begin to look like the spitting images of a past and present day William Hurt. And we already know the two do enjoy a good smoke.
A Chip Off The Old Block?
Like a lot of great stories, Uncharted 4 is about family and the ties that bind them. Like his brother, Sam is likely a character caught between two worlds – his friends and his family. That he and Nate aren't simply blood brothers is as interesting a twist on their relationship as Sully having had a life – and a son – outside of his time with Nate. We've learned who Nate is, but who his friends are is always another question. Having raised two competing sons is also a powerful way to add another dimension to Sully.
The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Family Tree
Let's go back to what we know about Drake family tree. Katherine Marlowe tells us in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception that Nathan Drake was committed at the age of five to Saint Francis Boys' Home following his mother's suicide. His father's whereabouts are unknown. He was also, for all intents and purposes, an only child. It seems strange that Marlowe would neglect to mention any of Nate's siblings should they have been on the books.
Call it all just a meaningless plot holes if you like, but I'd rather think that the team at Naughty Dog knows better than to hang their franchise out to dry – especially on its hallowed last entry. Sam and Nate both share their surname, even though Uncharted 3 suggests that "Drake" is a fake one. This could mean that they aren't related and just share the same moniker.
A Man Without a Mommy?
That raises another question: just who is Sam Drake's mommy? If Sully's past is any indication, then it could be just about any woman under the sun. If the video games count for anything, then there's one likely answer: Marlowe herself. It's not hard to imagine that Sully and Marlowe's apparent "partnership" went a lot deeper than at one point than their checkbooks. It would at least explain Sam Drake's lighter hair color.
It would be great to see the series dive deeper into its characters' offscreen histories. That you can, in fact, choose your family would be a worthwhile theme for the Uncharted series to explore – more so than any ancient tomb.