|“||All... Die... Why? Answer!?!||„|
— The Dark Ones
Ethereal is the title given to the end-game section consisting of the end of Top and the actual level, Ethereal. It takes place in a sort of dreamscape, during which Artyom is in a sort of trance. As Artyom moves through the level, his physical body is more or less inert, implying that he is in some sort of psychic confrontation with the dark ones.
Artyom starts off in a darkened room with four doors around him. There isn't any floor until Artyom walks in a certain direction. The doors have to be opened one at a time before the player can progress. Once through the last door a dark one will be encountered, which pulls Artyom deeper and deeper into the mind game. Before the player can progress however, Artyom will gain consciousness and find himself standing at the end of a meteorological sensor boom at the top Ostankino Tower. Before he can get back to the main platform again he will black out.
Artyom awakens again in the dark one's psychic maze, but this time in a long corridor. The player is to keep progressing until a flash, and the oncoming of a dark one. The player needs to turn around and keep moving in the opposite direction. When confronted by a dark one always turn and run away, otherwise Artyom will awaken at the top of the tower just as he falls to his death. Soon afterwards the voice of Hunter (presumably) can be heard, and Artyom will come across an intersection. Turning left will result in death as this involves walking into a dark one, faking to be a wounded soldier; the right path will lead to a Ranger, and in turn, allow the player to progress, starting again in a new part of the imagining.
This time, a stone path with no walls or ceilings, just a white void. It is advised here that the player just keep moving, sprinting and jumping across to the next stone that comes into place. The player should take the first right they come across, and keep moving, noting that there are a few large gaps but they can easily be jumped over. After that, Artyom must take the next left and keep moving, until he is pulled forward. Nearing the end of the sequence Artyom sees Hunter, who repeats the Ranger codex:
|“||"If it's hostile - you kill it..."||„|
Hunter then throws Artyom a revolver, walks away into the wall, and disappears. When Artyom gets up on his feet, the player may start shooting the dark one. If the player aims for the head or upper body, the dark one should start to slow and fall to its knees. After shooting at it from afar, with four direct hits, the Dark One will fall and Artyom will then wake up, face down on the floor on top of Ostakino Tower. What follows next, is up to the player's choices throughout the course of the game.
- Ethereal is the only level in Metro 2033, save from Dead City 2, that does not have an opening narration by Artyom.
- In Metro 2033 Redux, Artyom wears no gloves during the Ethreal sequence. After he shoots the Dark One and awakens, he is seen wearing gloves, but loses them again after the player regains control of him.