In 2010, many FPS fans found themselves wandering the dark tunnels of Metro 2033 for the first time. Based on Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky’s 2002 novel of the same name, Metro 2033 quickly ingrained itself in the hearts of gamers worldwide due to its dark, dystopian atmosphere, and it spawned a franchise. Metro Redux contains updated versions of both 2033 and its first sequel, Last Light, and now that it’s riding the rails onto Switch this week, are they worth the ticket price?
Welcome to the wasteland
Twenty years prior to the events of Metro 2033, a nuclear war devastated the Earth and forced survivors to migrate into the Moscow subway system. Survivors were forced to fend for their lives against mutated animals, communists, Nazis, and the harsh, unforgiving environment of the tunnels. In present-day 2033, the station Exhibition is attacked by supernatural creatures known as Dark Ones. Players take the role of a young man named Artyom as he finds himself thrust into a battle for humanity’s survival against these mysterious foes.
The story proceeds slowly, yet deliberately, forcing Artyom to fight his way from station to station on his quest. It encourages you to explore your surroundings, taking in the harsh reality of post-apocalyptic Moscow. Everything feels alive in Metro Redux. Stations and their citizens are just barely hanging on to life. The tunnels are brimming with debris and corpses. Even the surface areas feel like a deserted wasteland, ravaged by mutated creatures. If there’s one area where Metro Redux truly shines, it’s here.
A shooter with a dash of horror
Both Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light Redux are standard first-person shooters, with elements of survival horror mixed in. As you progress through the metro system, not only will you have to fight the terrors within, but also with limited supplies and deadly environments. Tunnels are rigged with easily sprung traps, and the air outside will poison you without protective equipment. Your keys to survival are observation and conservation.
One of the unique aspects of Metro Redux is its military-grade ammunition. Unlike the homemade ammo you find laying about, these rounds are high-quality and thus more powerful. This makes them very rare and sought after. For this reason, the military-grade rounds form the basis of Metro’s economy. Anything you want to buy or upgrade requires you to have rounds stashed away. This creates an interesting trade-off: Do you save your money and power up your weapons, or do you shoot it away in hopes of killing your foes quicker?
This isn’t the only choice Metro Redux offers its players. There are two sets of decisions you need to make when starting your game. The first simply relates to the game’s difficulty. Metro Redux offers both normal and hardcore modes, which differ mainly in resource availability and the combat difficulty. Two other difficulty options, “Ranger” and “Ranger Hardcore,” amp up the immersion by reducing or removing HUD elements in addition to further reducing supply pickups and increasing the combat challenge.
The other choice — Survival or Spartan — relates more to the gameplay style. Survival is akin to the original Metro 2033, more survival horror-oriented with a greater emphasis on resource management. Spartan, on the other hand, is more like the original Metro: Last Light — more fast paced and action-oriented.
One of my biggest complaints about Metro Redux is the lack of useful information it provides. A prime example would be the battery pack. I was prepared to criticize the overly dark environments of the metro tunnel system until I figured out why my flashlight wasn’t working all that well over halfway into my playthrough. One of the items you have from the beginning of the game is a battery charger. By utilizing this, you can power your flashlight (and later night vision goggles) so that it produces a much more powerful beam. Once you figure these mechanics out, they become useful tools in your survival arsenal, but for something so essential, it isn’t communicated all that well.
Both games could also have leaned into the horror realm a bit more. These games are classified as horror in the sense that we’re dealing with supernatural elements in an atmospheric dystopia (much like with BioShock) — not in the spooky, jump-scare sense. What Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light provide is a decent horror foundation, but they don’t utilize it to its fullest potential. Nothing these games do feels revolutionary, and it’s a shame because the other components hold up fairly well.
My only real gripe with Metro Redux’s technical performance regards the loading times. They ranged from a few seconds to quite long, though the games will provide a little bit of narration between segments to keep things interesting in the downtime. It seemed as though the narration either ended well before the next area was loaded or that the level loaded halfway through the story. Luckily, you don’t move on until you’re ready, so being cut off from the story was never a problem. It just felt a bit awkward waiting for one or the other during any given screen.
Graphically, I didn’t notice much of a difference between handheld and docked modes. The visuals while docked were of marginally better quality, though having the bigger screen was a blessing for lining up precision shots. I also felt that objects tended to blur together a bit too much for my liking in the dark tunnels while in handheld mode, so I ultimately spent most of my time playing on my TV. That said, taking Metro Redux on the go is still a solid option if you prefer.
Overall, both Metro 2033 Redux and Metro Last Light Redux are great shooters that you should certainly play if you’re a fan of the genre. While almost nothing about these titles is game-changing, the content they provide is still worth the price of admission. Most of the few gripes I have become non-issues once you figure out how to work around them, and those that remain aren’t too disastrous. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your ticket and come along for the ride!
A review code was provided by the publisher.