Sunday, June 16

Crotch Cam, Care Bears and Metro: Last Light

I can't do scary movies. When my brothers and friends used to insist on viewing films such as Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later, I would accompany them, but I'd also spend between ninety and one hundred and twenty minutes with my eyes fixed squarely on my crotch. Even when watching the relatively lighthearted    murder sprees found in the Friday the 13th series, I would stick my fingers in my ears to block out the sounds associated with men being torn limb from limb. I'm certain that my entourage would tell you that I whimpered on occasion - I'm not saying I did, but I wouldn't put it past them all the same.

I was able to play the odd survival horror title without crawling into the fetal position, however. Something about having agency in a raft of terrifying situations allowed me to deal with the sort of gratuitous violence that normally have my glance heading south. Resident Evil 1 through 4, the first Silent Hill, Dead Rising, and titles like Dino Crisis and F.E.A.R -- that weren't necessarily scary, but would try and get you to jump with surprise attacks and limited resources -- were able to be bested despite my inability to compute cinematic horror.    

As time's gone by and I've branched out from friends and family, our expeditions to view abhorrent content have become less and less frequent, and I've strayed away from the offensive content almost entirely as a result. It's to the point where I'm even shying away from violent games: Resident Evil 5,6 and Dead Space 3 have been lying around the house unplayed for months, Dead Space 2 has been in the backlog for years now. I thought I could go the rest of my life without my heart rate rising on account of copious amounts of blood, guts and screams of terror.

Then I found myself in the Metro. Surrounded by floor-to-ceiling spider webs, haunted, eviscerated rail cars, and amorphous pods of skin that spew slime and more spiders, I found that the best way to deal with my fear was to let it out. I mean really let it out: squealing and swearing as I trudged my way through the depths of post-apocalyptic Russia. I'm like a surly, cowardly sailor shooting barbs and buckshot towards creatures that make my nightmares look like scenes from an episode of Care Bears.

It's not just the grotesqueries that have me perpetually wailing "That's fucked up!" either, it's the sounds that accompany them. The taut strings that score the stealth sequences, the skittering of six (maybe eight?) very large legs, the blood-curdling screams and cries for mercy from innocent survivors: if my fingers weren't wrapped tightly around the controller, they'd be in my ears.

I actually relish the chance to face human opponents. They're predictable, they're preoccupied and they only see me coming when I want them to. It's not so much that the AI-controlled opponents aren't cunning strategists as much as they are blind. Unless a strong light source is present, consider the greenlight for shenanigans flashed.

In any case, I'm glad that Metro: Last Light has provided some fuel for that final, flickering spark of courage hidden at the back of my brain. If you have any love of bleak, post-apocalyptic scenarios or thick Russian accents, I strongly suggest you give it a try.

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