Jigsaw Review: Uncharted 4 Madagascar Limited Edition Puzzle

Disclosure: The Uncharted 4 limited edition puzzle was purchased for review by VGBlogger.com.

This Uncharted 4 jigsaw puzzle has been an absolute nightmare, which is a real bummer because I love the Uncharted series and was super hyped to get my hands on a special edition jigsaw puzzle depicting Nathan Drake rappelling down a tower overlooking a scenic Madagascar cityscape. It’s a great shot for a jigsaw puzzle, no doubt about it.

The nightmare started before I was even able to begin assembling the damn thing. I ordered the puzzle from the PlayStation Gear Store (which is actually supplied by ThinkGeek) and when the order arrived I opened the package to discover a box with a top cover for a Dishonored 2 puzzle (where’d that come from?) and the bottom cover for the Uncharted 4 puzzle that I wanted. An inconvenience, yes, but thankfully customer support quickly corrected the problem and shipped over a replacement box within a week at no additional shipping or return charge. So even after that goof I remained hopeful.

Sadly the experience only became worse when I finally got the right puzzle. As soon as I tore through the shrink wrap, popped off the box top, opened the interior baggie, and began sorting pieces, I noticed that many of the pieces appeared to have been improperly cut. It’s as if the puzzle accidentally went through the cutting machine twice, leaving pieces with clipped, jagged edges, shavings still attached but hanging off, or edges trimmed farther down than they should’ve been. When going to put the puzzle together, these imprecise cuts made it overly challenging to line up because so many of the pieces wouldn’t cleanly hold together with their connecting mates.

Typically when putting together a jigsaw puzzle, if you have to force two pieces together or there is a loose connection, you immediately know that you don’t have the right fit. Here the inconsistencies of the cuts means that even correctly matching pieces have gaps so they don’t always fit smoothly with a snug fit. It got to the point that I would swear I didn’t have the right pieces going together even when I actually did. Even larger completed sections fail to hold together without sliding apart at the slightest pressure. Numerous times simply blowing the table surface gently with my mouth to clear away some of the residual cardboard dust and shavings caused clusters to flip over or separate. I’ve never had a jigsaw puzzle be so loose and fragile.

The puzzle image, as displayed on the outer box, is a beautiful work of art, a detailed and painterly vista seemingly suitable for post-assembly framing and wall-hanging. However, the image quality printed on the puzzle pieces isn’t nearly as crisp or vivid as advertised. The colors look fuzzy and washed out, as if the source image was a low resolution blown up to the scale of the 18″ x 24″ 1000 piece puzzle. The top-right half is doable because at least there are distinguishable colors and patterns to work with, but the bottom-left half is so dark and muddy that it’s virtually impossible to see the underlying patterns of brick and stone and roof shingling. I literally had to hook up a little desk lamp to an extension cord and manually beam it over the puzzle like a spotlight to see what I was doing and try to find matching pieces.

The aforementioned problem with the poorly cut edges only made matters worse in this section, because I couldn’t fall back on solely looking at the contours of the edges to find the correct links. It also doesn’t help that the puzzle is severely lacking in shape variety. All of the pieces are two-pronged. Some are elongated and some are squat, but except for subtle differences in edge curve and angle, the pieces are too similar to consistently allow for building through visualizing the cut shaping alone.

As you can see from the pic shown mid-page, I eventually got to the bottom corner section and just gave up. So no, I have not finished the puzzle. I’m honestly a little ashamed to say that I tapped out (I’ve done a lot of jigsaw puzzles in my day without ever quitting one once I got started), but after spending time every day for about a week on just that little area, making no progress due to the poor quality of the puzzle, it just didn’t feel worth it to carry on. Of course the primary factor for ultimately throwing in the towel was getting down to the final patch only to realize that I was literally wasting my time and effort on a defective puzzle that came with missing pieces. Yup, an edge piece on the right vertical side as well as a piece in the upper-left corner, where the tower and sky meet, are nowhere to be found in my box. I also went through and counted out the remaining pieces compared to what’s left unfinished, and unless my math is wrong there’s another dark piece missing as well. (See, I told you this puzzle was a nightmare!) I would soldier on if I had a full image to look forward to as a reward for the pain, but there’s no more point in banging my head against a wall knowing that no matter what I’m going to be left with an incomplete picture.

As a limited edition puzzle based on a major first-party franchise like Uncharted, I certainly expected a superior product directly from PlayStation’s officially licensed Gear Store, something I could complete and collect with geeky pride. But that’s not what I got. At least the puzzle’s only $10, but even at that price I wouldn’t waste the cash on something that’s of such low image clarity and cut precision. Or who knows, maybe I just got extremely unlucky to first get a mismatched box followed by a defective replacement with missing pieces and lousy quality. Either way I’m literally in the process of seeking a full refund rather than taking a shot on another replacement, which is something I rarely, if ever, do. That’s how disappointed and deflated I feel right now.

[Update] Since press time I was able to receive a full refund. Even though the puzzle was a mess, I do have to say that the PlayStation Gear Store / ThinkGeek customer service was surprisingly excellent throughout this whole mess. My complaints regarding the original wrong shipment and eventual refund on the second shipment were both dealt with quickly without having to jump through a bunch of hoops.

Buy From: PlayStation Gear Store for $10.

Disclosure: Puzzle purchased by reviewer.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!