A Book Lover Reviews "Metro 2033 Redux"

When I read Metro 2033, the person with whom I share half of my genetic makeup, (i.e. my brother) asked me how come that I knew of the game. Meanwhile, I answered "What game? this is a book." Filled with intrigue, I sat down some time later and acquired the game: Metro 2033 Redux

"Metro 2033 Redux" is loosely based on and inspired by the "Metro 2033" novel by Dmitry Gluhovsky. It broadly shares the same story line, the moral of the story, as well as some of the characters - portrayed in different degrees when compared. 

The player takes over the character of Artyom on the fateful day when Hunter comes to visit his home station Exhibition (in the novel VDNKh). The station is under threat from The Dark Ones, and Hunter wants to save the metro by destroying them. Should he not return, he instructs Artyom to make his way to Polis and report the situation to Miller. Hunter does not return, and so Artyom's journey through the dark and dangerous metro begins. 

The game is set in the same post-apocalyptic world as the novel: the world bombed itself away 20 years ago, and those lucky to survive live in the Moscow metro. It is impossible to return to the surface without protection, and even in the safety of the Metro mutants roam the area, ready to hunt any living being. Roaming the wasteland of the tunnels as well as the different stations in order to reach Polis and saving Exhibition create the main storyline. 

While it is a first person shooter, the game does not have to played as such. In almost any level that has other people as your enemy, you are able to choose between a stealth approach as well as the more shooter traditional run-and-gun approach. You even have the possibility to combine these styles. Even if you are not a frequent shooter player, it is easy to navigate the controls and know what you are doing. 

The difficulty levels in Redux are split into combinations: First you can choose between a survival and spartan mode, the first leaving less ammo in the area as well as fewer filters, while the latter is aimed towards a faster and more story drive gameplay. 

The second choice is the difficulty, which ranges from normal to ranger hardcore. The higher your difficulty there, the easier it is for Artyom to die - e.g. it only takes two bad hits from a mutant and that's done, your health only recovers when you take a med-kit, as well as smaller things such as handling the filter system and hints in the HUD system. 

Even with little to no experience in shooters, it is a doable game and you don't die so often that you become frustrated. In the spartan normal combination, it is almost impossible to die due to enemy damage ... yes, sometimes you fall off things and die, that's life. Furthermore, after finishing in "idiot mode", the game has taught you enough about its mechanics that you can continue in Ranger mode without feeling overwhelmed. 

Story-wise the game takes a very liberate approach to the source materiel. In the opening credits it says that game is "inspired by" instead of "based on" and this shows. While most fractions are there and the overall plot remains the same, the smaller steps on how to get there are different. The games is aimed much more towards gunning, while Artyom in the novel shoots his gun about two times. In the game you encounter many more mutants to blast away, as well as going onto the surface more frequently. 

And yet, you can slow down and soak in the same atmosphere that the novel set: a dark and bleak world, that only wants to survive with little to no hope, and yet, it does not give up. The first time you go onto the surface and see the destroyed Moscow is something else.

Very frequently you will see characters at stations talk about how things became like this, as well as what the past was like. It is filled with such nostalgia and in such a real way that you get sucked into the world. 

This method of story telling is also helped by the fact that Redux never breaks Artyom's first person perspective. Aside from the very last scene - we'll get there - you see everything through his eyes. Other people talking to him, a railcar falling onto him, even when he gets knocked out, or someone towers over him waking him up - the POV always remains the same! 

Added to this is the fact that Artyom never actually talks when you play him - which is quite ironic given that book!Artyom is very chatty and talks non-stop. In the game he only explains this and that in loading scenes and keeps a diary, but even when characters talk to him he remains mute. Sometimes this behaviour is called out as a joke, other times his silence is seen as agreement, as well as part of the conversation when you'd remain silent. 

Personally, this was a great way to immerse myself into the game and the metro universe. The fact that I get to nod along behind my controller, and have a lot of freedom when it comes to choices. This does not only come to stealth versus run-and-gun, but also smaller choices such as giving a bagger some money, taken some in return, or listening to all the conversations. There is even a side task that you can completely ignore and it will have no impact on the story but it will on your moral points. 

After all there is a hidden moral system that runs in the background of the game. Since the game is already quite old, it is less hidden nowadays and every positive and negative is written down in a corner of the internet. However, your choices throughout the game - listening to a conversation here and there, taking or not taking the money from a mother who's child you saved - is going to account into that system and the ending you are going to get. Just avoiding negative moral points is not enough to get a "good" ending. 

And, oh boy, this ending does something else to you. In the novel, it already gave you whiplash and made you debate all points of moral but in the end it was out of your hands and just another story. Meanwhile, in the game it is in your hands and just like Artyom in the book, you come to the conclusion too late - this is often refereed to the "bad" ending, and also the ending that the second game builds up on. And yet, it feels so much worse experiencing that and thinking "ah damn" but the damage is done ... 

"Metro 2033 Redux" provides an intense and enjoyable gaming experience that gives the player a lot of choice on how to approach the story. You can pace it at your free will. The immersion works perfectly, which is helped by Artyom being a likable character as well as always having companions that you like. The game is easy to play for everyone and even idiots who forget what LB might be during the first three hours. 

Furthermore, it managed to perfectly catch the essence and atmosphere that the book provided , and maybe even a little better. 

Metro 2033 Redux   by 4A Games
written by  Dmitry Glukhovsky,   Andrew Prokhorov, and Viacheslav Aristov
Released in 2014 
Published by  Deep Silver 
Platforms available PC Xbox PS4
trigger warnings: graphic violence

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