So the title pretty much says it. It’s also a pretty long title. Thing is, the actual title I wanted was even longer. The gist though is that I’ll be talking about video game adaptations of books mostly. To be a little more specific, I think the Metro series are the best series of games that have been adapted from another medium.
I would assume that anyone reading this, if they’re an avid gamer, might shout about The Witcher. Maybe about comic book adaptations like Batman and Spiderman. To those people I say, yeah even those. Anyway, maybe I should just get to explaining my point.
The Metro series is set in a post-apocalyptic world. Specifically a post-apocalyptic Russia that is experiencing a nuclear winter and all survivors have fled to the metro stations. Now living in makeshift cities at the different stations underneath the radioactive city, they use the trainways to travel between each city, constantly hounded by foes, human and otherwise.
Along with the normal banditry that you would expect, there are horribly mutated monsters and, obviously, Nazis. Metro really has it all. It’s all constantly thrown at humanity, again, and again.
Artyom, the protagonist, must travel through a bunch of the Metros. The aim is to inform the Ranger HQ about a new threat, the Dark Ones. The Rangers are unfortunately not located in the next station over. The road is long and infinitely perilous but there is no one else.
There is one thing that the metro series does that I don’t think any other series does as effectively. It makes you feel like you are in the games setting. Not just like you’re following someone else’s story, or you’re some bystander that happens to fix everything. You are Artyom, you are living this hellish life, you are constantly at your wits end, and in danger. Part of what I think causes this is all of the clever details and concepts.
Now immersion is a subjective matter, something that grips one gamer might not grip another. What I think Metro does so special, is how much they force you to feel something. It’s always in your face, just how screwed you are, how bad the situation is, how dangerous everything is. Everything you do, everywhere you go, everything is difficult.
Not in an intrusive way though, and I think this is the real genius behind Metro. Everything is so purposely “rough-around-the-edges”, yet at the same time fine-tuned. Every action, movement, shot, reload, literally everything is pitch perfect. With it all pushing against you, you feel on edge, weak, and vulnerable. The point is, that you are!
Underrated and Under Appreciated
The most disappointing thing about this article and the series as a whole, is how underrated it is. As far as I could find online, none of the games have been particularly big sellers. They’ve made money, covering development and marketing costs, but there’s never records being broken. Or more telling, there doesn’t seem to be total, official numbers released.
I think Metro Exodus getting a next-gen upgrade some time in the future might help the series as a whole. Being that next-gen games for either console are still pretty scarce, more people may buy/ try it just because there’s not much else next-gen to play.
I think they may have already been on there before but I think Game Pass, ready for the next-gen upgrade is fitting. Giving some 15 million people the chance to play it again, or play it for the first time. With a decent amount of marketing this could help catapult Metro to its rightful heights.
Something that I’m not sure gets discussed or brought up enough, is how bad gunplay is in a lot of games. It gets mentioned here and there, mostly with competitive shooters and the like. Games like The Last of Us or Dead Island have some of the worst gunplay in a game, in my opinion. They feel bad, unbalanced, and deeply unsatisfying.
So I guess it’s no surprise that when the gunplay of a non-competitive FPS game is amazing, it’s also forgotten. This might be, where the Metro series shines more than anything else. The gunplay is just fantastic.
You won’t feel like a supersoldier, Spartan 117, some dude in an alien nano-suit, or anything like that. You will however feel like a young guy running around with a barely held together Kalashnikov. That’s the point. You’re given the right impression and you can relate more.
I will put an addendum here so that he doesn’t hate me. Our other writer Zack, does not feel the same way as me on this point. He is of course wrong… but that’s his burden to bear.
In Metro, quite unlike any other game I’ve played, every action, button, movement, everything is connected. Nothing is wasted.
In a lot of games, there’s some waste for additions. Sometimes it’s a useless potion or gadget, maybe some emotes that add nothing. Etcetera, Etcetera. There’s none of that in Metro.
You get your map out and you have your compass, press another button and you have your map. Then press another and you have your objectives. You get your lighter out for some light, and it also burns cobwebs. You want to pull your gas mask on, good, now wipe it clean, and now change the filter. Oh you want a flashlight on, well you need to charge it up.
Then my favourite is the money. There aren’t dollar bills or bottle caps in the Metro. No, in the Metro you trade ammunition. High grade military ammunition. Here’s the kicker, you can either spend the bullets or weapons and ammo to protect yourself or as higher damaging ammo to protect yourself. Either way, the bullets are used and you may or may not still be alive.
The point I’m getting at is that all of the equipment and mechanics interlock so perfectly. I can’t think of another game that melds so many pieces of equipment, weapons, and ammunition so seamlessly.
I’ve gushed more than a little bit about the Metro series here. With zero regret or shame. It’s an absolutely sublime series that, I think, gets overlooked way too often. I honestly could have kept going for much longer but then it would be a dissertation rather than an article.
The point I was trying to make is that it’s a game series, with increible ideas, plot, and mechanics. All of it thoroughly thought through and expertly implemented. For how good The Witcher 3 is for example, it barely holds a candle to Metro, in my mind. There’s a lot of waste, as I mentioned, that could have been avoided.
If you get the chance, there is no doubt in my mind that you should play the Metro series. I can’t possibly think of a reason that you would ever regret it. You’re welcome in advance.