Metroid Dread died around 10 years ago but in a fate of that similar to the series, iconic Ridley character the game got reborn as a bigger and stronger entity than before, hoping to reignite the series ladies and gentlemen Metroid Dread.
Samus Aran is one of the universe’s most iconic and badass bounty hunters around, at this point in her career there isn’t much she hasn’t taken on and due to events in Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, she holds the DNA of the Metroid species.
Samus is contacted regarding video footage of the X Parasite, a dangerous parasite that has come back since Samus made the Metroid species extinct, she makes her way to the planet the video came from hoping to end this saga once and for all.
The game is touted as the “end of the saga” for the 2D games starting from Metroid/Zero Hour and up to Fusion, while this is true this is a Metroid title, and those expecting rafts of exposition and dialogue may want to get expectations in check.
While there is a good chunk of story here in Metroid Dread and more cutscenes than the series is known for (at least the 2D entries) it takes a back seat until around the halfway mark, the opening hours are quite barren in terms of narrative aside from what your mission is and how you should achieve it.
While I felt this story ended on a good note, I would just like to reiterate that you aren’t getting RPG levels of narrative here and some things that happen are either callbacks to previous games or just happen, it’s not an issue and cutscenes are skippable too for speedrunners and replayers.
Visually Metroid Dread looks absolutely amazing, visually this is on par with the beauty that was the Prime series in that there are so many little touches and effects that make the world feel much more realized than you would expect, weather effects in the different biomes are fantastic especially when you are in the storm section.
The animation on Samus this time around cannot be understated, she has never moved more fluid from a visual and a gameplay standpoint (more on that later), she oozes attitude in the cutscenes and reacts to the world around her, hops up small ledges and cuts the iconic Samus pose when countering enemies.
Enemies are all fantastically designed to the point that upon you coming across them you’ll likely know what their weakness or attack is going to be, the bosses even from a visual aspect are an absolute high point, while there aren’t as many throwbacks to the previous games as I would have liked what is there is good & the original bosses just drip style and design.
Now I played through the game on the OLED and can say the use of colours in the game is fantastic, several sections you’ll find Samus in the dark and she has emergency lighting on her suit, this glows greens and lightly covers her surrounding, coupled with the warm colours of the Lava section and the series has never looked more vibrant and pleasing to the eye.
The music seems to have taken a step back in terms of absolute bangers and instead has gone more into the ambient sound territory, obviously to aid the feeling of “Dread” which permeates throughout the game, while it’s not Super Metroid levels of music it works and assists the game so it’ll do for me!.
Now the gameplay isn’t going to shock anyone when they think back on the term “Metroidvania” this is the key series that coined that term, you’ll be exploring the labyrinthian planet, searching for upgrades and weapons which unlock new areas for you to explore, the aim of the game is to get off of the planet after Samus is attacked upon landing.
Where Metroid Dread stands alone from previous Metroid titles is the way Mercurysteam has designed the world makes it a lot more linear than it initially seems at first, the sweet illusion of freedom while the game funnels you along only making you backtrack at one major point I found, the rest of the game just naturally flows at a breakneck pace which is honestly quite refreshing for the genre which was built on confusion and backtracking.
Combat has taken a much-needed improvement and retooling, while there has always been combat in the series it wasn’t really until the Prime games where it became a little more, Samus Returns Remake added the counter-attack and free aim to the 2D games and Dread takes everything that came before it and makes one of the most intense feeling and impactive combat experiences you’ll find in the genre.
You’ll gather a bunch of new abilities for the series, there is an instant dodge attack which is an utter game-changer in terms of boss fights, and a “Stealth mode” which outside of a few doors and sections doesn’t really get much use which is a shame. Aside from these, you get the usual missile upgrades
The bosses in Metroid Dread are the absolute stand out in this game, they range from absolute giants to that scary human-sized boss fights, you know the kind that really tests your skills, and trust me here that happens and you’ll be humbled and see the Game Over screen multiple times but it never once gets “too much”, everything has a pattern and a tell and it’s honestly refreshing for a game not to just hand out wins with minimal effort.
The main new hook for Metroid Dread is the “horror/stealth” sections throughout the game starring the new enemy the “E.M.M.I” which is basically a robot that wants you dead and can only be damaged with a special beam you’ll get at the very end of their section, if they catch up with you then you have a very small chance of countering and escaping but often it’s easier to just run for the hills, where the game lives up to its name in Dread.
These sections tend to break up the exploration and are easily identifiable by their visuals and the doors which show you’re going into an E.M.M.I area, my only issue with these sections are they feel really disjointed and in my opinion, outstay their welcome later on, yes they are tense and difficult but I found they were too obvious which relieved some of the tension knowing exactly where you are safe and where you’re not.
The game will last you around 10 hours on your first run if you want to get 100% item collection and then you’ll unlock a “Hard Mode” for the truly masochistic of you, naturally the game has been out over a week now so people are discovering sequence breaks and the speedrunning community have already started chipping away at it, with how good the game controls and how fun the boss fights are, retuning to Metroid Dread really isn’t a problem at all.
Aside from the E.M.M.I Sections I couldn’t find any issue at all with Metroid Dread and even that is just a small issue that is more personal preference than anything, it’s an absolute return to form for Samus and my personal favourite Nintendo franchise, Dread shows there is plenty of life in the series and the genre yet, welcome back Samus you have been sorely, sorely missed.
A keen reminder of how Samus does business on par with the series best if not different in places. I’m dreading playing anything else!.
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