In Metro: Last Light Redux, the sequel to the very successful Metro 2033 Redux, there are a selection of little activities you can watch or take part in. The series of games are based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s science fiction novel Metro 2033, which was first released in Russia in 2005. The first game of the series was released only 5 years later. It’s no wonder, with the success of the novel, that the games were received with much critical acclaim as well. They are buggy. Yet, I think one of the reasons why the games were able to conquer this issue so effectively was due to the amount of meaning put into small scenes like the one seen below.
Don’t mind my shaky controls as I film the show. I’m not a director! But what I love about this scene is the number of little details the developers put into it. Not to mention that if you finish watching it, you get a reward. Hint: watch it all. There are a group of dancers, a mutant trainer, musicians, fire dancers, and an enthusiastic host to keep you entertained until the end.
Entertainment should be the last thing on your mind as you watch the show, though. There’s a hidden message that you won’t truly understand until after you’re done watching. It’s a sort of foreshadowing. I don’t see much use of this tool when analyzing the writing of a video game. Now that I think of it, I cannot recall a time when I have ever seen it used. Why is it so important when putting into the context of Metro: Last Light Redux? Well because Artyom, the protagonist of the story, is being transported to his friends by what they’d consider their enemy: a communist Red Line soldier named Pavel.
If you haven’t played the game and don’t want to be spoiled about anything that happens, then don’t read on. But if you’ve played the game, then you know that right after you finish watching the show Pavel takes you into a room right next to the stage. He hands you a few drinks in celebration of your partnership, then reveals himself to be a high ranking officer (a Major) in the Red Line army as he tells his minions to capture you.
What’s the importance of the use of theater in Last Light then? There are no actors in the show that you watch, only real people doing the things that they love to do for the sake of entertainment. They’re like Pavel: he’s not acting because he really is a soldier with the Red Line and Artyom knows this (he just doesn’t know that he’s a Major). He knows that he is in the hands of his enemy but trusts him anyways because of the events preceding the show. But the whole premise of theater is to put on a “show,” and that’s exactly what Pavel does. The way he acts towards Artyom as they journey to the Red Line Settlement makes it seem like they are already best pals. And you, as the player who controls Artyom, feel like you can trust Pavel too. In the end, though, Pavel’s acts of kindness are just for show.
This sort of detail put into the writing of Metro: Last Light excites me for the next installment of the franchise coming out in 2018, Metro: Exodus. With 4A Games, the developer of the Metro games, being considered the “underdog” of video game developers, there is a lot of pressure to make Exodus a game that can compete artistically and professionally with titles such as Far Cry 5 or Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. I, personally, don’t think they have anything to worry about.
Not much has been released about the game as of yet, but there’s a lot of time until it is slated to release. Until then, check out the E3 2017 gameplay trailer. When I say that 4A Games has nothing to worry about, I mean it. Look at the details put into that one part of the game. Amazing. It makes me wonder the number of details that’ll be put into the writing as well.