Blueprint : The Righteous Path
VoxelArcade Blueprint #014
Although I reviewed it some time ago, it wasn’t until last night that I finally got around to completing Metro: Last Light. A stunning game by any measure, the sheer claustrophobia that it manages to induce is unparalleled; it’s morbid tale of the remains of mankind tearing themselves apart in a post-apocalyptic power struggle being unnervingly realistic.
But it was the game’s ending that struck the greatest chord with me.
Having played through Metro: 2033, I had suspected that there would be at least one alternate ending. Perhaps brainwashed by the mind-numbingly obvious ways in which morality has thus far been tackled by the medium of games, I was expecting a simple A/B choice at the end of the game; some banal QTE to go left or right at the final juncture. I was wrong.
As it happens, I was awarded with the ‘bad’ ending, which whilst still rewarding, left me wondering what I needed to do to experience the ‘good’ one. I thought that I had done everything well up until that point, but the final cutscene was non-playable, with the sense that matters had been taken out of my hands being palpable.
It might be tempting to pick off enemies from the shadows, so much so that it feels stealing candy from baby – which is also apparently a bad thing.
A quick Google later and it became apparent that Last Light’s morality system was quite ingenious, embedded silently and invisibly into the fabric of the entire game. At only two points towards the very end had I the option of dispensing mercy upon key characters, that arguably didn’t deserve it – but even then, I was robbed of the ‘good’ ending.
What had I done wrong? What choices had I overlooked? Quite a few, as it happens:
I’d stolen too many bullets, killed too many humans, not rescued enough women or children, not played enough musical instruments, not given any bullets to beggars, not given a crying child their teddy bear, allowed a mother bear mutant to be eaten by her cubs – oh and I’d willingly sampled the wares at a strip-joint.
Stopping and listening to the citizens of the Metro talk is another hidden mechanism that ‘boosts’ your morality – even in pubs #win
In other words, without signposting the whole affair in some childish, arbitrary manner like, say, Mass Effect does, the game had secretly judged me and found me wanting. I felt genuinely guilty, as though a wise, old teacher had cast their verdict on my selfish, immature behaviour. It was, in short, a morality system grounded in the most reality and subtlety that I’d even seen in a game.
Now if that’s not a blueprint for others to follow, I don’t know what is.
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Husband. Parent. Gamer. Go figure.