Metro 2033 begins as a story about an orphan trying to hold onto his last connections with childhood and security, becomes a story about a bad commute, and ends as a story about how we limit our definition of humanity, and the boundaries of our compassion. It’s a great game because in the end you realize it was always about that, but maybe you missed it while you were worrying about other things.
It’s also our next game for Waypoint 101. We’ll be recording early next week, with a full episode devoted to the entire length of the game. The podcast should go up on Wednesday, the 14th of March.
Before we record, however, we’d love to get your questions. You can email them to us with the subject line “Questions for Metro 101” at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternately, you can start posting questions and discussing your playthrough with our community in the forum thread for this post.
As for playing along with us, either the original version or Metro 2033 Redux is a fine option, and different people on the podcast will have played different versions. The Redux version is built on a better graphics engine, but there’s a good argument that the original is actually more successful on an aesthetic level, while Redux has some much-needed mechanical improvements. Either version is fine for our purposes.
Metro 2033 is based on a series of books by Dmitry Glukhovsky, and was part of a flowering of excellent post-Soviet science fiction games in the mid and late 2000s. In addition to its literary lineage, however, Metro 2033 also claims descent from the GSC Game World team that made STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl (itself a work that remixed elements of Tarkovsky’s film and Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic).
The “former STALKER developer” connection has been abused by a lot of developers over the years, but in Metro’s case that lineage matters. It shares a great deal of its aesthetics with STALKER: Both are beautifully dreary games full of world-weary survivalists doing battle against the paranormal using cobbled-together equipment, amidst the remains of the Soviet empire. But it is in many ways a rejection of STALKER.
Where STALKER was all open-world simulation and emergent storytelling (with creaky authored sequences barely holding together inside of it), Metro 2033 is quite literally an on-rails linear narrative shooter set in the Moscow subway system after a nuclear apocalypse. It is full of characters and densely detailed settings that give you a keen sense of who lives in these little communities, and what their lives are like. And yet it is still in the service of a game meant —like STALKER—to feel completely real and convincing. It just goes about it in a completely different way, perhaps because it is making a different argument, from a different point of view on the world.
Perhaps. We’ll talk about it next week.
Our own Austin Walker has been streaming a bit of it and you can watch his session from the other night right here (though you’ll want to skip to about 12m30s in the video, as there were some technical issues).
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/59kvan/going-down-to-the-depths-of-metro-2033-for-this-months-waypoint-101