Tying Loose Ends In "Metro: Last Light"

"Metro: Last Light" is a video game, once more, inspired by the novels "Metro 2033" and "Metro 2034" by Dmitry Glukhovsky. This game continues the story of Artyom and ties up the loose threads of the prior game. Once more, the player becomes Artyom - who joined the Spartan Order after launching the missiles against The Dark Ones. Khan is convinced that there is one more left. Hearing this Miller sends Artyom and Anna to eliminate the threat.  

However, nothing is as easy as it seems and the world is not as black and white as one would wish. Artyom is sent on a chase through the Moscow Metro, in doing so learning about betrayal, redemption, co-existence and loss. 

While this is the base of the story, the game keeps its schematics form the first part: it is a first person shooter that can be played as violent as one wishes. There are option for gun-and-run as well as stealth. In addition, there are even levels in which you can combine deadliness with stealth - especially in Depot. Even though, this game tends to go a little more towards gunning, as there are levels in which you can't avoid the confrontation with human enemies at all. 

The various combinations of difficulties remain the same as in 2033 Redux - with the small exception that despite playing in hardcore there is going to be a reminder on screen that you need to change your filter, and with which combination to do this. 

Furthermore, while your enemies cause you less damage, so do you, meaning that it might take various badly aimed shots to bring someone down, while in Spartan Hardcore it takes about three. Due to this, I actually preferred the gaming experience in Hardcore more than in Normal - even though, the potential to die rises as well. 

Some guns appear to be weaker in Last Light  as well. The most prominent for me was the VSV, which seemed like a god-like gun for sniping in 2033. However, due to playing in bigger rooms, and an actual sniper rifle being present, it had to be "dumbed down" and pales in comparison. This is an observation I made on almost any difficulty - even Ranger. 

"Last Light" indulges in literal "boss enemies". Those are typical mutants, so it can still be explained away as logical in the universe. Though they are at times annoying and out of place when you see a big mutant and "suddenly" the bridge collapses so you are trapped with it. 

However, there are also boss levels that follow the prior principle and further the plot. Such as the final confrontation with Pavel - which demands a lot of skill and good aim, as well as a haunting and gruesome last part that gets under your skin story wise. 

Speaking of the story: "Metro Last Light" does not follow a novel, instead it seems to be set between 2033 and 2034. However, it does borrow aspects that are present in "Metro 2034" such as Miller's injuries, and the virus. In the end, "Last Light" continues the story of Artyom, The Dark Ones, and his choice to destroy them while "Metro 2034" follows Hunter. 

This means that you are faced with different themes. In 2033 many characters mourn the old world before the bombs dropped, in Last Light you specifically focus on the bombs being dropped. As this mirrors exactly what Artyom has done to The Dark Ones. There is one especially haunting scene in which Artyom has a vision, in which he is in an airplane that witnesses not only Moscow being blown into obviation but face their own death soon after. 

At the same time, "Metro: Last Light" runs three plots parallel which find their connection only towards the end. This can make the first play-through a little confusion but the tightness of the knot is even furthered should you get the Redemption ending. 

Just as in Redux, this games offers two different endings which are influenced by a hidden moral system. While I feel that the moral system was much more punishing in 2033 - as it pushed you toward the canon-book ending - the one in Last Light is easier to navigate and a little more forgiving. There are obvious choices (kill the guard that surrenders or not?), smaller choices - which have their influence but not as big -, as well as a lot of points being gained by exploring the world. The game already wants you to go towards an ending, and I managed to get the "good ending" at my first play-through. The "good ending" is the canonical ending on which "Metro Exodus" is based but the "bad ending" has also a strong impact.  

However, the "bad ending" gives the "love story" with Anna and Artyom a purpose. Overall, this subplot is chunky at best. Even though there is more room to explore it: There is a hint that they are not in love yet but have to get there yet, both hindered for different reasons. But Last Light does not use this potential as much as it could to make it more believable. Instead, it gives you one heart-felt scene, and a really awkward one. It seems that this plot was only included to make sure that Anna can tell someone about Artyom's action in the bad ending. 

While there are a lot of new faces in "Metro: Last Light" you are also going to encounter familiar character from the prior game such as Miller, Uhlman, and of course Khan. This time the former play a lesser roles while Khan becomes a companion to Artyom once more. Otherwise, Artyom is either led by new characters through the story or follows his own goals. 

In the end, "Metro: Last Light" is a worthy continuation of the video games and explores themes that are not present in the novels. While it is not directly based on any of the books and only borrows some ideas, it fits into the universe. However, the boss enemies are somewhat frustrating and break the pace. Furthermore, in comparison I found myself being more drawn towards Metro 2033 Redux as that story  feels more fleshed out.

Nevertheless, despite some quirks I enjoyed the game and re-re-played it already. The DLC are already included, so you can play additional chapters and linger a little more. 


Metro Last Light Redux   by 4A Games
written by  Dmitry Glukhovsky,   Andrew Prokhorov, and Paul De Meo
Released in 2014 
Published by  Deep Silver 
Platforms available PC Xbox PS4
content warnings: graphic violence, sexual content

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