Welcome to Mechanically Beautiful, where we look into the widely debated topic of whether or not video games are considered art. I’m here to say that yes, I do believe video games are a form of art. If you are not a believer of this idea, then maybe these articles will change your mind. But even if they don’t, you will get a chance to hear about and maybe look into some beautiful games in the industry. Today we look at the dark and beautiful Russian game “Metro: Last Light”.
“Metro: Last Light” is a first person post apocalyptic shooter, created by the Russian company, 4A Games. The game takes place in Russia after a nuclear apocalypse and all the people of Russia now live underground in the old train metro tunnels. You play as Artyom a young man working for The Order, a group who protects the Metro. This game has the usual post apocalyptic color palette that consists of dark browns, grays, blacks and deary shadows. However, this doesn’t make the game ugly. Rather, the colors are a part of the beauty.
This game is unbelievable in its graphical power. The graphical fidelity of this game is beyond any other game I have ever seen. This is the kind of game you need a very powerful computer to run comfortably. This high level of quality makes this game feel alive and immersive. Every rock, cobweb, gun, and character looks so good, you almost get creeped out just by walking around in the metro tunnels. The lighting effects are beyond belief. In a game where you walk around in dark, dank tunnels and have to have a flashlight on for a majority of the game, good lighting effects is a necessity. The flames of the gas lamps and light of fires bounce off every person and object in a very realistic way. Even in a place where there is nothing but rubble and train tracks, you can’t help but stare at the walls, as a small gas lamp light bounces around the room. The attention to detail is so incredible, it even goes down to the look of the guns. The metro is not a place with a large amount of resources, so the guns are all homemade looking. The metal of the guns looks so rusty and worn, they almost look like they’re made of the the train tracks you’re walking over. When you do finally find some old military guns, you can see the difference in craftsmanship and shine compared to metro weapons.
What about the fact that it has a small color palette and looks dirty? Normally, this would be ugly, but the game uses the setting to it’s advantage. The game has a very gray and old look when you’re in the metro tunnels. The colors help you understand the pain and sorrow that the people in the game are feeling. You might think this is all hideous to look at, but it’s beautiful, in a strange way. Watching people create life in a place where life used to be was never meant to be interesting. You’ll see homemade houses, fences, and even the boats are crafted in a hard working manner. Walking around the stations, the towns of the metro, you’ll look at the makeshift buildings and it seems like they’re living in Hoovervilles. The walls are made of plywood or other boards that could be found and the desks look like they were found in the dumpsters behind buildings. The lighting effects intensify this feeling. In the towns, there are small blue flames, flare lights, and gas lamps everywhere. Bouncing around people’s faces and off the texture of their clothes. The stations are the only place you don’t need your flashlight on with all the lamps set up giving off their magnificent glow. Walking around in the dark for so long and then seeing this small gas lamp, creates a beautiful contrast between the different settings. Even the green radioactive mushrooms create a colorful contrast on the floor and walls. As any artist can tell you, a well done contrast can make a great piece of work.
There is another part to the world of “Metro” known as the above world. After the nuclear destruction, the above world has become a radioactive wasteland. The trees are covered in a beautiful, snowy white ash. The roads are broken, with water flowing in between the cracks, making a feeling of an almost new world. Sometimes I found myself just stopping to look around at the large foliage and dark water flowing around the ground. The sky is an important part of the beauty in the game. The clouds are huge, gray shapes that seldom let sunlight through. But when the rays of light occasionally shine through, you get a nice, little warm feeling. Being on the above world is one of the best parts of the game. You walk around a world that was once commonplace, but is now an ash filled, wonderland of intrigue.
The entire setting of “Metro: Last Light” is confusing. You want to believe and feel like this world is hideous and a disgusting place to be in, and yet you can’t. Something about the rough texture and beautiful lighting, combined with homemade craftsmanship makes you love the setting. Then, after gazing upon the strange world of the metro underground you get to go to the above world and see the obscure beauty of a nuclear wonderland. I don’t really know what it is about the world of “Metro: Last Light”, but I am in love with it and it is truly a work of great art. This is a game I recommend everyone who has the chance to get it. This game is not only beautiful, but it also a great game with a fantastic story.
You can buy “Metro:Last Light” here.