After years of delays, speculation, and rumors, Metroid Dread is finally here for us to play. Metroid creator Yoshio Sakamoto first tried to create a sequel to Metroid Fusion all the way back in 2005, but he felt like the technology of the time wouldn’t be able to fulfill his vision. So, the game sat on the shelf for a few years, and Fusion was left as the last game in the mainline Metroid series until E3 of 2021. This is when we would finally get our first glimpse at the next chapter of Samus’ journey. Many Metroid fans thought this game would never be released, but in October of that same year, they were proven wrong when Metroid Dread was finally released. But was the game worth the long wait?
NINTENDO’S SPACE OPERA
In Metroid Fusion, Samus fought against the X-parasite, a life form that could threaten all life in the galaxy. After the events of that game, it was believed that the X-parasite became extinct. However, the Galactic Federation has received an anonymous video showing the X-parasite living on a planet called ZDR. They initially sent a group of autonomous robots, called Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifiers, or E.M.M.I.s to investigate; however, contact with them was lost almost immediately. Due to the events of Metroid Fusion, Samus is the only person in the galaxy who is immune to the X-parasite, so she is sent to investigate the presence of the X-parasite on ZDR and learn what happened to the E.M.M.I.s.
The story is pretty straightforward and is given to the player at the start of the game. There aren’t many stories to beat that happen once the gameplay begins, and the beats that do happen are told more through imagery and action rather than dialogue. Although, about halfway through the game there is a pretty massive exposition dump that explains everything that is going on with ZDR, the Chozo, and the X-parasite. Metroid is a series that’s always been known more for its gameplay rather than its story and Dread is no exception. The story is good and it gets the job done of providing some context for the action on screen, but it really doesn’t do much else.
SPELUNKING ON ZDR
The controls in Metroid Dread are more fluid and natural feeling than any other game in the series. The wall jump was much easier to pull off than it was in previous Metroid games and should only take a few tries to get it down consistently. Exploring the world of ZDR requires the player to not only master Samus’ move set but also learn how her items open up new parts of the map.
If you’ve played any Metroidvania game before, you already know how the basic gameplay loop goes. Explore the world until you come to some sort of barrier; find the item that eliminates that barrier and opens up more of the world, then continue exploring until you come to the next barrier. Rinse, lather, repeat until the credits roll. Sometimes this style of gameplay makes it difficult to keep track of where everything is on the map, but once you uncover an item it will be marked on the in-game map even if you aren’t able to obtain it at that time. This means you can easily come back to it later when you have the right item.
POWER UP YOUR SUIT
The game features a good mixture of classic items from previous Metroid games as well as some new items to Samus’ arsenal. The charge beam, morph ball, spin jump, and grapple beam from classic Metroid games are all here as well as some new ones like the Phantom Cloak, Flash Shift and Cross Bombs. Items like these are primarily used for exploration and opening up new parts of the world. Most combat encounters and boss fights are going to be overcome with Samus’ arm cannon and missiles.
All of the boss fights in this game are difficult and many of them are extremely difficult. However, this difficulty is never frustrating and it never feels like something that can’t be overcome. Most boss fights took about 20-30 minutes or so to beat and to clarify, that means 20-30 minutes of constantly dying over and over again trying to figure out how to beat the boss. What eliminated any possible frustration is that every boss has a checkpoint right outside the room where you fight them. Plus, the load times are short enough that you don’t have time to read any of the hints on the loading screens. So even though the bosses all took several tries, there wasn’t much time between attempts and I didn’t have to redo huge parts of the game just to get back to fighting the boss again.
THE LAST METROID?
It took about 12 hours to finish this game with around 65% of all items collected. The part of the game that was most fun wasn’t the huge bosses or the challenging combat. While those things were great, the most fun came from exploring the world and finding where everything was hidden. Long-time fans of the franchise will be glad to see that Metroid can still stand out in a world where indie games inspired by this series are practically a dime a dozen.
ViBE Review: 8.5/10
32, living in Arizona with a passion for video games, music and movies.