“Sam’s Story,” the second of two deliberate DLC episodes for Metro Exodus, enables you to do that factor the place, for those who come throughout choose chairs dotting its rotting panorama, you possibly can sit down and play harmonica. You, as Sam, will simply jam over some grimly scenic vista. You may play for so long as you need. There are even extra songs to gather. There is no such thing as a level to this aside from to do it. It’s quintessentially Metro. I like it.
That’s “Sam’s Story” in a nutshell: It’s the Metro collection, particularly Exodus, distilled. Much like Exodus’ first couple areas, you’ve acquired a big, dense panorama to discover, irradiated wildlife to deal with, bandits to bop (or stab or shoot), and no small variety of NPCs who will speak your ear off for eons for those who allow them to. Typically you possibly can smoke or drink at your leisure whereas they speak at you, as a result of not like previous Metro Exodus DLC “Two Colonels,” “Sam’s Story” leans into the collection’ strongest moments: The tempo takes its time simmering earlier than bursting right into a full-on boil. Certain, you possibly can dash between principal story goals and shoot all the things that strikes, however you’d be lacking the purpose. Typically, you simply need to cease and scent the pustule-covered roses.
Not that you just’ll discover many roses on what is basically the grave of Vladivostok, Russia. The setting of “Sam’s Story” got here out the opposite facet of the apocalypse and a bunch of tsunamis trying far worse for the wear and tear, leading to a locale that’s half-dilapidated cityscape, half-swamp. You traverse giant parts of it in a dingy little motorboat, which serves to place you in a headspace that Metro Exodus’ principal marketing campaign leveraged to nice impact in its greatest moments: You’re small and susceptible, mucking about in a world that not belongs to humanity. Nonetheless, Sam will cease at nothing in his quest to return house to America, even when he has to maneuver heaven and earth to take action. He’s obsessive about getting again to San Diego, a metropolis I’ve personally been to sufficient occasions that I can say, with certainty, that it’s not well worth the hassle, my dude. However after a long time residing in subway tunnels beneath a bombed-to-oblivion Moscow, Sam simply desires to see his dad one final time. So he decides to tentatively strike a take care of the one different American he’s met in a number of a long time—a businessman-turned-local-warlord named Tom—to get a nuclear submarine up and operating in trade for a visit again to the States.
What ensues is a semi-open journey via Vladivostok’s many ruined buildings and giant-snake-infested canals. It harkens again to Metro Exodus’ first couple areas, which felt extra akin to the STALKER collection of open-world-ish PC survival shooters than the primary two Metro video games. “Sam’s Story” isn’t tremendous tough, however threats abound, giving the setting a convincingly hostile vibe. To place it one other method, I stealthily crouch-walked in all places always despite the fact that, strictly talking, I in all probability didn’t have to. I turned grateful for the moments once I might simply play a few of these candy harmonica blues as a result of it meant I wasn’t tiptoeing via minefields, choking on unbreathable air, or getting torn limb-from-limb by overgrown lobster monsters. That stated, on regular issue, “Sam’s Story” masses you down with too many provides and instruments to seize the exhilarating desperation of Exodus’ first space. It’s form of a bummer, however that’s what tougher issue modes are for, I suppose.
“Sam’s Story” is extra linear than it seems. Your capability to progress into a pair areas of the map is gated by story occasions and a recurring boss struggle. That is largely wonderful; the map flows organically and features as a smorgasbord of Metro’s biggest hits. Earlier than the tip of this DLC, you should have: killed or KO-ed numerous bandits, blasted a veritable faculty of zombie-like ghouls, gingerly crept via one among Metro’s tensest spider ranges ever, donned your fuel masks to narrowly survive some significantly gnarly irradiated swamp terrain, and grounded an enormous bat who assaults by suffocating you with large clouds of smaller bats.
Bat boss struggle apart, you received’t encounter a lot in the way in which of recent enemies, and to be frank, the bat struggle is the form of rote, go-through-the-motions encounter that may’ve exited my reminiscence moments after I accomplished it if not for the truth that I needed to do it two extra occasions afterward. Map apart, there’s not a lot of something new to find, besides a handful of recent weapons and the aforementioned minefields. “Sam’s Story” can be heavy on the collection’ trademark jank, so anticipate some glitches and a handful of moments the place you possibly can see what the builders had been going for, but it surely simply didn’t fairly pan out. That stated, many parts of “Sam’s Story” are like watching a virtuoso paint throughout the strains. It may need taken a couple of tries, however you get the impression that the event group has its method dialed in at this level. This can be a extra targeted, refined Metro Exodus—a dissertation after a number of semesters of classes discovered.
And it’s humorous! Surprisingly so. The Metro collection has at all times had a pressure of darkish humor operating via it, however “Sam’s Story” opts to be downright goofy in locations. Minor spoilers forward, however there’s a first-person drunken shenanigans scene that makes use of soar cuts and time skips to tremendously entertaining impact, and there are facet missions that contain really bonkers characters like two brothers preventing over possession of a automotive dealership in a world the place no one drives automobiles anymore as a result of they’re all rust-covered junkyard husks. Oh, and prepare for some very Russian jokes about what People are like as effectively. “Sam’s Story,” like different Metro tales, is finally a few character looking for his place on the finish of the world, but it surely appears like extra of a victory lap than a determined dash.