Saturday, March 02, 2019

"Metro Exodus" Review

4A Games' "Metro" series has established itself as a bleak, brooding survival horror franchise with a distinctly Eastern European flavor. The saga is set in a depressed, post-apocalyptic society that has driven humanity underground, left to scurry around amid the ruins of the technological marvels in which it once thrived.

"Metro: Exodus" strives to be the most somber and claustrophobic of the franchise. As with the previous games, the capstone to the trilogy broods in its somber, contemplative mood. Many first-person shooters play on a power fantasy, but in this game, the aspiration is just to endure and scrape by, surviving encounters with mutated beasts or ruthless scavengers with just a sliver of health and a few spare bullets.

The setting for the third game moves largely from the decayed Russian metro to the sprawling, yet equally corroded and constrictive Russian wilderness. The story spans a year, evolving the saga as political factions rise and fall, semblances of hope flicker, die and spark up, and dread-inducing threats continue to rise from oblivion.

With a palpably raw ambition pulsing through every pixel, "Metro Exodus" feels like an expertly designed marvel. Displaying a polish and production level that the earlier games lacked, this seems to be the entry that will vault the franchise from cult status to mainstream prominence.

While the narrative continues to be patchy and confounding, the gameplay remains varied and vigorous. You rarely face challenges that seem repetitive or contrived. Although some action sequences lead to set pieces that feel a little forced and overproduced, the general effect is a cinematic flow that always packs a punch.

Single-player-focused experiences seem to be a dying breed, but the likes of "Metro Exodus" show that a dogged commitment to traditional survival horror values can pay off in a major way. The twists that 4A adds to the formula continue to pay off, and "Metro" continues to chug along, siphoning its dystopian angst as fuel.

Publisher provided review code.

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