When the echoes of the past have you in their grip, clawing your way out seems to be the only option. Shadows that are illuminated by lighting bolts don't just seem to move, they do move. Ghostly images of past lives litter the world and you sense, if not outright feel, their chilled hands clinging to you in search of warmth. These are just a few of the haunting examples you will stumble across in Metro: Last Light. Even though it's a direct sequel of Metro 2033, Last Light stands as it's own game.
The story follows Artyom, the soldier you played as in Metro 2033. There is no real introduction page to the story. The game merely assumes you have a fair bit of knowledge of the prior game's storyline and goes from there. The conflict with the "Dark Ones", mysterious psychic humanoids, reached a tipping point in the past title. Regardless of your decision in 2033, the game follows the bad ending choice. Artyom bombs the Dark Ones' nest, tossing them into oblivion. Apparently he didn't do a good enough job, as a Dark One survived, which sets the story of Last Light in gear.
|What happens when you add insects, spiders, and scorpions to a pool of radioactive sludge? My worst freaking nightmare.|
Even these murderous beasts do not hold a lighter to the true enemies. People live in fear of each other, for when the world goes dark, mankind is among the worst horrors in a land of mutated beasts. Before you really even get too deep into the game you are captured and then thrust into the hands of Russian Nazis. They are like regular Nazis, they are just Russian. What follows is a heart pounding escape from a Nazi Metro fortress. You get mingled in with a brother-in-arms, who affectionately refers to your duo as the "Two Musketeers". Unfortunately he gets captured again, leading you to focus on rescuing him, since you both need each other to get out.
Where the game really shines is in the atmosphere. The change from radioactive surface where every open space could mean your death to the tight, enclosed pits of the dark underbelly which also could mean your death, Last Light rarely fails to disappoint the feelings you would expect to encounter in those situations. It's a game where running for your life really feels like running for your life. Pitch black corridors filled with webs are ominous and you know exactly whats waiting, but that power box won't fix itself so inside you plunge with your trusty flashlight. One of the first experiences on the surface involves moving through a wrecked plane, where your nerves will be seriously rattled.
The game really feels at it's best during those solitary moments when you just explore the irradiated world. The entire area is bathed in psychic energy from the Dark Ones, as vision after vision transforms the world we see, into the world which was. These visions are both truly unsettling and completely mystifying. You begin to wish for more than the game can give you. Are those shades hovering nearby wistfully remembering the beauty of what once had been, or are they crying out for what has been lost to them?
While the game does a fantastic job of building up the suspense, the ending fails to deliver that really big punch. Some questions are answered but the bigger mystery of the game is left unsolved. Both karma influenced endings of the game feel a little empty after investing yourself that far into the story and, while they are still well done, ultimately it feels as if 4A Games missed a great opportunity to finish strong.
While there are some things 4A could have done better, the game is a good amount of fun. If you're looking for an intensely atmospheric setting with a lot of mystery, this is the game for you.