After recently finishing Metro 2033 Redux on the Switch, my attention turned quickly to the next game in the series. Metro: Last Light brought a similar experience on the Switch, but with some improvements, and a continuation of Artyom’s travels in depths of the sewers.
Similarly to the 2033 Redux, the graphical fidelity is not so impressive. Of course, this was completely expected (as the Switch has its limitations), and this was pretty much hit on Metro 2033 Redux with not much room to evolve. The graphics aren’t bad in any sense of the word, but you would definitely have a more aesthetically pleasing experience on PC with settings turned to maximum (if you care about that sort of stuff). The graphical fidelity, or lack thereof, by no means diminished the experience at all. I actually enjoyed this game a lot more than 2033 Redux, and it came down to a few factors.
Firstly, the levels were varied. Sounds simple, but having different environments for the player to experience is essential in making sure things aren’t repetitive. In Last Light, you do wander through the metro tunnels, but you are also exposed to swamps, radiated cities, catacombs, and more. There is a lot of vent-crawling, and the levels are definitely designed around stealth for the most part, but you do have the option to go in guns blazing. This keeps the player guessing and ensures interesting variation where there wasn’t much before in Metro 2033. There are wind mechanics introduced into some of the levels, where you need to time running from cover to cover, otherwise you are flung off into the water and will die (I learnt this the hard way…). The premise of the series still remains that everyone is forced down into the tunnels, but Last Light does a better job at making sure the player has more visual stimulus through varying locations.
The locations have not only improved, but what you do in each chapter from a gameplay point of view is also much more engaging. In comparison to 2033, Last Light gives you massive contrast in mechanics and gameplay. “Regina” is a chapter that sees you hopping into a little handcrafted buggy to venture on your way through a tunnel to the next location. You drive this buggy (on rails, that is) and find yourself having to make several stops along the way to investigate side rooms and re-route the tracks you’re on. This on-rails mechanic is used a couple of times, but with some differences. In the chapter “Dark Water”, Artyom is travelling on a boat and must defend it from the “shrimp” (a funny nickname, yet visually accurate) who are lying beneath the surface of the water.
The gameplay mixes up its pace throughout. There are moments where slow movements and stealth are key to surviving an area, contrasting well with levels like “The Chase”, where fast-paced running through the corridors of a moving train while gunning down Reich enemies was the enforced method of progression.
Something I have been appreciating about the series is the fact that the story is broken up into small chapters; this is great for delivering the story into bite-sized pieces. I found myself playing a couple of chapters every day; and, because there are summaries of events on the loading screens, the story wasn’t being lost on me.
Speaking of loading screens – there are still a lot. And being on the Switch, they are longer than you will experience on most other platforms. Again, this is a Switch hardware limitation, and not something I attribute to being the fault of the game or developers.
Overall, the game was an enjoyable experience, certainly improved through the developers efforts to vary all aspects of the game. I felt more engaged as it was less repetitive overall. It took about eight hours for me to get through the campaign, which I felt was long enough, without dragging on. The linear story and missions are again one of the game’s strong suits in keeping the player focused, but I am looking forward to Metro: Exodus and the possibility of a more open and less linear world.