As your gas mask fogs up, you look down at your watch. You have 3 minutes of air left. You’re 5 minutes away from safety. You have 1 magazine of ammunition left, and your torch has just run out of batteries. You see a creature in the distance running towards you, and the light goes out. If games are about atmosphere and tension, Metro: Redux is in a league of it’s own.
Originally 2 games, Metro: Redux is a reworked collection of both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, with improved graphics and general tweaks to make the experience better. I really enjoyed the games the first time round, so it was great to get another chance to delve into the tunnels of post-apocalyptic Moscow once again.
With the upscaled graphics and improved lighting, the game feels more claustrophobic and grimmer than ever. In terms of atmosphere, Redux absolutely nails it. Every single part of the world you’ve been plunged into feels authentic, from the train-car cities, to the condensation forming on your mask. The world is unpleasant, dank and utterly gripping.
Both games in the series are intriguing because of where they’ve come from, and the different outlook an international developer brings to it’s games. Ukraine-based 4A games approach things in a different way to most teams, and it’s refreshing to see. They just feel different, like you’re playing something fresh and exciting. An American or British developer could have easily fallen into the trap of making this a Fallout-clone, or pandering to the ‘dude-bro’ Call of Duty crowd by amping everything up. 4A stays firm, and makes a game that is slightly off-the-wall in terms of narrative and approach, and completely better for it. It’s an unsettling world, and the story and design decisions make this even more apparent.
Metro Redux is wildly ambitious, and there’s times when the game can fall a little flat. Jarring animations or scripted events sometimes get stuck or feel wooden, and there’s balance issues between the weapons. I never once used the pressure-operated Ball Bearing rifle due to it being cumbersome and fiddly. But talking about the workings of the games is missing the point. They play well enough that these are only small issues. The real point of these games is just how unique and interesting they are.
It’s the different approach in storytelling and scenario that make this game something worth playing. Especially the first game, which although isn’t as advanced or as well-polished as Last Light, it’s story makes for a completely unique and exciting adventure. The game doesn’t take the turns your expecting, and it doesn’t try and instil this into the story by predictable plot twists. From the ground up, this game is built differently. It feels familiar, yet somehow different. This unsettling nature of gameplay and narrative marries with the nature of the game so well that it’s hard to think of how this game could work if tackled by a more mainstream developer. It’d be too fake, too polished, too normal.
The Metro series will always have a hard time in getting a reputation, as it will inevitably (and incorrectly) be compared to games so different from what it’s aiming for. If we look at the post-apocalyptic, earth-has-gone-to-shit genre, it’s positively brimming with some of the best games you can buy. Metro:Redux is always going to have Fallout and The Last of Us hot on its heels, whether it likes or not. And although it doesn’t reach the emotional impact of TLOU, or the seemingly infinite scope of Fallout, the Metro games carve out a niche all of its own. They never try to be anything other than Metro. In doing this, they earn a place at the table, more than capable of delivering a rich, deep experience, totally different in approach and tone than anything currently out there.
The Metro series deserved the remastered treatment. We’re in an age of computer games where developers and publishers play it safe. They want to hold your hand. They want you to feel empowered. They want you to win. Metro: Redux doesn’t want any of this, but it demands your attention. In a world of safe-bets and sure-things, the Metro series stands apart, giving you an experience unlike anything else. You need to venture into the unforgiving depths of the Moscow Metro. You’ll be glad you did.
Developer: 4A Games
Publisher: Deep Silver