Metro: Last Light is a bold and ruthless post-apocalyptic adventure.
Metro 2033 delivered a tense, exhilarating and horrifying first-person shooter experience thanks to strong voice acting, an involving story and an obscure vision of the future. It wasn’t without its problems, but the survival horror first-person shooter showed a dark vision of a near futuristic Moscow that was convincing and horrifying. For the most part, sequel Metro: Last Light is another strong entry in the series.
Like its predecessor, Last Light puts you in the shoes of Artyom, a survivor living in the underground metro system in post-apocalyptic Russia. You are part of a resistance that fights nightmarish creatures known as the Dark Ones which not only have invaded the surface, but are also trying to go underground. This is where you come in: as one of the most important members of a resistance called The Order, you’re supposed to get rid of any attack that tries to make it to your base. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself far from home and you have to make it back which not only means fighting Dark Ones, but also other humans and ironically enough, the latter are usually more terrifying.
Exploring settlements is up to you, but this is one of my favorite parts about Last Light. Apart from being able to collect ammo (which also works as currency,) you get a glimpse of how other survivors live: you’ll see them argue, listen to their favorite music, wash their clothes, train, play checkers and perform other trivial activities. If you’re lucky enough and pay attention you’ll overhear some intimate conversations. These are usually not subtitled and I liked that because it gives the impression that you’re witnessing something that you’re meant to see. These deeply intimate moments give Metro a personality of its own and makes it a unique and special game. I find it ironic that for such a dark world, these settlements are so alive and colorful: the people are trying to be happy and live fulfilling lives with what they have and every moment of quite and peace definitely feels like a miracle.
As in its predecessor, Last Light does something different with ammunition. Ammo can be used to shoot enemies or as a currency so whenever you engage in combat, you’re basically shooting money which makes you think twice before using your guns. But that’s not the only unconventional mechanics: since the surface is covered in radiation, you have to use a gas mask which runs out of filters every now and then and they crack when enemies attack you, so you might have to find a replacement soon. This creates some of the most tense moments in the game, since you can’t explore the surface at your own pace.
Weapons include rifles, assault rifles, sub-machine guns, shotguns and pistols and each of them come with their advantages and disadvantages. Some load faster or are more effective at close range, others are more likely to jam and overheat, others are more accurate and so on. Guns are also customizable, so you can improve the size of the barrel or their optics.
Metro 2033 was notorious for its severe controls and its sequel keeps that tradition. When you’re on the contaminated surface, you have to use a mask, but the filters ran out rather quickly and you must scavenge for additional ones. Ammunition is just as scare and I wouldn’t be surprised if you had to rely on knives or grenades more than once. Luckily, whenever you face other human beings, the game rewards stealth, so you can save a lot of ammo by sneaking in the dark and dispatching enemies from behind. During most levels, you have several tools at your disposal such as lamps that you can put out or instruments that can distract enemies. Additionally levels are design in such a way that you can take different paths: sometimes you can use heating pipes hanging from the ceiling to avoid confrontation or use underground caves. To be clear, you can always go guns blazing, but using stealth is so rewarding and convenient that I can’t see most people using the former approach.
Finally, the Russian voice acting is terrific, adding a “local” flavor to the game and this should be the default way to play Last Light. Although be prepared to miss some random pieces of dialogue, since some of the most mundane chats between NPCs aren’t subtitled. As I mentioned above though, this adds to the experience.
Metro: Last Light does its predecessor justice. Most of the elements that made Metro 2033 stand out are still here, while some new ones were added. The strong narrative, use of stealth, horrific encounters and entertaining combat make Last Light a first-person shooter worth playing if you’re into horror or first-person shooters.