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Finding Christian Truths in the Secular: The Metro series

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  • Finding Christian Truths in the Secular: The Metro series

    Hello everyone!

    I wanted to write a commentary on a game series I've recently been playing that has had me thinking, especially in how it relates to the Faith.

    ***Spoiler Warning***
    Metro is a first person shooter game based on a Russian series of books that takes place twenty years after a nuclear war devastates the capital of Russia, Moscow. What's left of humanity (less than 50,000) lives in squalid shacks built inside the labyrinthine tunnels of the Moscow Metro system. Life there is a constant struggle; against mutants, hunger, radiation, bandits, and ghosts. On top of this, you also have a mysterious humanoid race with supernatural powers commonly called the Dark Ones, who cause all who come into contact with them to go insane.

    By no means is it for everyone, especially not for children (or some adults). The game touches on a lot of heavy subjects, such as murder, torture, genocide, the sex trade, extreme poverty, pestilence, and political extremism. It's creepy, depressing, and yet sometimes beautiful and very atmospheric.

    You encounter moral crises frequently, which will change the ending of the game. For example, in the first game after coming to the surface for the first time, I encountered a mutated giant rat creature in its den in a ruined store. I instinctively killed the rat and out of nowhere its babies rush to its body. I just stared at what I just did for a good minute or two.

    Yet despite all this, it has a curiously (perhaps intentional) positive Christian message. One I wasn't expecting (I heard the book series has a somewhat negative view on religion, not exactly sure)

    1367772995.jpg

    In addition to the above, survivors also have to deal with the factions who fight for control of the Metro. You have communist Red Line, which is little different from their real life counterpart in paranoia, cruelty, and persecution. Then you have the neo-nazi Reich, which seeks to kill all survivors deemed too mutated. The third faction, the capitalist Hansa, appears much less nasty and lives in relative opulence compared to the rest of the Metro residents, yet only cares for their own and what will make them richer.

    There is one last major faction however. Made up for former russian special forces, the Order protects all people regardless of ideology from the mutated horrors. A modern knight order, which you eventually join. Their main base in the first game is the only location where people can safely live without gas masks on the surface. Where? A beautiful orthodox church.

    2015-07-03_00001.jpg

    The main character has this commentary about the church:
    "Why a church? Is it just the sturdiness of its walls, or do Miller's fighters believe it could protect the, better than anything else? It's weird that even those who stand firmly on the ground looking death in the face and, by all accounts, must be quite used to it, still seek protection from heavens. Rangers don't speak of it, but I saw many of them wearing undercloth crosses. I heard someone tell that the world turned inside-out after the Apocalypse, and that while hell ended under the skies, the people had to find refuge where hell used to be. That's why there's supposedly no better refuge on the Surface than the old churches. I don't know about that... But these icons and frescoes, adorning the church walls, instill some kind of calmness even in me. As if we, the sinners who had the divinely created world destroyed, can still hope for absolution. Can still pray for salvation."
    Quite interesting that the only place Christians are referenced are in the game's only good faction. The only ones that don't exploit or try to kill you. And the only place safe to be topside happens to be a church? Hmm...

    In the second game, you seek to undo an atrocity that you committed in the first game. At the end of the game, you use a laser designater to send a rocket to kill the main settlement of Dark Ones, killing virtually all of them. The other members of the Order consider you a hero, yet you feel shame for knowing the truth, that the Dark Ones were actually the heavily mutated survivors that didn't seek shelter in the metro and were only trying to peacefully communicate. You are tasked with killing what could possibly be the last Dark One, only a child, which you ultimately decide not to. You spend most of the game trying to get into contact with your group, after being betrayed by a "friendly" Redline soldier (Pavel), captured, tortured, climbed through mutant spider nests, and other horrors. When you finally reach your allies, once again, it is at ANOTHER church where it is safe to breathe. Moving on, you rescue the little Dark one, who finds you and human civilization interesting in addition to frequently bringing up that you killed his entire people. He helps and guides your journey while unintentionally chastises you for what you've done.

    Dark_One_LL_1.jpg

    Late in the game you encounter Pavel again, who has been personally involved in the cleansing of an entire settlement, executing nearly everyone. After a firefight in the ruins of St Basil's Cathedral, you corner Pavel and are given a choice: do you kill him for revenge or do you forgive him? I think it isn't a coincidence that a very difficult thing to do, to forgive this monster, happens inside Russia's most famous cathedral. Especially as the latter choice greatly increases the chance of getting the happy ending in the game. By your forgiveness of Pavel, the Dark One child learns the power of forgiveness of your enemies and those who wrong you and ultimately forgives you by your acts of repentance throughout the game.

    Of forgiving your enemies and repentance, these Christian themes in Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, whether they are intentional or unintentional, spoke to me tremendously on a religious level.

    MetroLastLight07.jpg

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