I’m not one to usually enjoy playing first-person shooters on the Nintendo Switch (and you’ll understand why soon enough), but I had the opportunity to play Metro 2033 Redux recently and it was still an enjoyable experience. The game takes inspiration from the Metro books written by Dmitry Glukhovsky – you follow the story of Artyom, who is residing within the sewers (along with the rest of civilisation), after a global nuclear holocaust forces humanity to retreat from the surface and away from the threats that lie above.
Going in blind to the series, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. From screenshots, I envisioned a similar setting to the Fallout games: that post-apocalyptic grimy wasteland, filled with abandoned buildings and sewers. This is what I encountered, but on a smaller and more linear scale; there weren’t large open wastelands to trek across, but that was probably for the best. With such a current focus on making games expansive, and ensuring they have maps so big you will never finish exploring, sometimes you need a linear game to keep you focused on your objective. For someone like me who wanders far and wide, the linear story was an advantage in this case.
Even though the game is linear – get from point A to point B – there is still a little exploration to be had. I really enjoyed some of the small touches in the game. When wandering to my objective through the encampments within the sewers, many conversations were going on around me, little snippets of information about these NPCs which just add a little flavour to the game. People sitting in their little cabins having an argument, or people sitting around a campfire, strumming a guitar – all these things set a tone, a grim tone which suits the environment you find yourself in. I noticed Metro novels laying all around the place, which was an interesting touch by the developers, almost to say, “Hey – I know you’re playing Metro, but don’t forget to buy the books!” This didn’t bother me; it was rather amusing – but almost like an in-game advertisement.
The game has a lot of great attention to detail – you need to switch out gas masks, as they are limited, and there is a gun which requires the player to pump it up to be most effective/damage-inducing. You are given the choice to use the in-game currency (military-grade bullets) within your guns if you are truly running short on ammo, which is an interesting choice, and allows the player a powerful but costly solution if they are in dire need. One of the most terrifying aspects of the game (that I quickly noticed) was that there is no enemy compass on the screen. This means that when you enter into an encounter, you have no idea which direction the enemies are coming from, and that is pretty terrifying in the dark sewers – when you can barely see as it is. A nice touch for a game that classifies itself as a survival horror.
Even though exploration isn’t far-reaching, it is essential, and the game is very much focused on a stealth play-style. You might ask why stealth is important. Well, simply put, the game places emphasis on resource management. It gives you just enough bullets (if you scavenge around) to get through the planned encounters. Just enough. Without some scavenging, you may find yourself short on bullets, gas masks, and currency for upgrades.
Playing on the Switch was a bit of a different experience. I tend to pick up FPS games on PC, as I am just naturally able to aim better and have quicker reflexes with a keyboard/mouse arrangement. One of the things that this game does right on Switch is that it gives you some compensation for those of us that don’t have precision aiming. There are settings to expand the hitbox of enemies, and, of course, sensitivity adjustments can be made. You even have the option of using the Switch motion controls to aim; this may please some people, but it’s not something I was able to get used to. With the allowances to ease the aiming, I found the game to be more enjoyable and less frustrating for someone like me, who isn’t used to being precise with controllers.
As the Switch doesn’t quite have the grunt that a PC has, the loading times between levels are what I expected them to be. You will be waiting longer for things to load in general, but it doesn’t hurt the experience – especially as Redux has combined some levels together, meaning there are fewer loading screens to deal with. Graphically, it is what I expected, with textures generally being okay all around. One noticeable graphical oddity would be the fire effects. The game, in general, is pretty smooth and delivers a consistent quality of gritty textures, but the fire seems to be more pixelated and out of focus than anything else. Perhaps this is due to the console’s limitations, as this isn’t an issue on PC. With this being said, it doesn’t have too much bearing on the enjoyability of the game.
Overall, the game is a refined experience; the story is inspired by written literature and is solid in its delivery. It is very artistically crafted, with little touches here and there which make you realise and appreciate all of the effort the developers put in to make the environment feel threatening and alive. Graphically, it wasn’t the most stunning game I’ve seen on Switch, but it ports over well and runs smoothly. The accessibility of the game is exceptional in terms of accommodating controls to your play-style and skill level – which I find invaluable. With its linear story, I found myself getting about 8 hours playtime out of this title. The game was succinct and to the point; it didn’t pad out its mechanics or gameplay or make you grind, which made it refreshing to play. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in the series. Speaking of…where did I put my copy of Metro Last Light?