Initial release date: October 8, 2021
Designer: Yoshio Sakamoto
Composer: Kenji Yamamoto
Developers: Mercury Steam, Nintendo, Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development
Publishers: Nintendo, Nintendo of Europe GmbH
Platform: Nintendo Switch
2021 and we get a new Metroid? What fantasy life is this? Metroid is a franchise that has always been amazing (yes, I enjoyed Other M) and has had classic after classic that have redefined both the 2D and 3D genres. The term “MetroidVania” was birthed because Koji Igarashi decided to make Castlevania: Symphony of the Night play like Super Metroid and just built upon that foundation and thus has spawned a whole genre that is incredibly thriving till this day. Oddly enough, Metroid has never gained ground or been financially successful for Nintendo. You would think that a franchise that has inspired a whole genre would be thriving and yet in Metroid’s case it just never has and has been constantly ignored by Nintendo over the decades (along with many franchises that they own). 2002 was the last year that we got a mainline Metroid entry with Metroid Fusion and even though we have seen the Prime Trilogy thrive, remakes of Metroid 1 and 2 release, and an interquel in Other M; we have not seen a continuation of the series beyond the events of Fusion……until now. Metroid Dread is a game that has been rumored for 15 years and is finally here and picks up immediately after the events of Metroid Fusion and it is honestly every bit as good as you’d hoped it would be and more. Let’s dive into this review!
Following immediately after the events of 2002’s Metroid Fusion and Samus’s battle against the X Parasite; The Galactic Federation receive intel from an unknown source that suggests that the X Parasites survived the destruction of SR388. Hoping to capture and utilize them as bioweapons, the Federation dispatched seven E.M.M.I. robot units out to investigate planet ZDR. Not long after their arrival, the units all mysteriously vanished, and in panic, the Federation sends in Samus to investigate if the X Parasites still exist as she is the only living being in the universe with an immunity to them. Upon arriving on ZDR, Samus encounters a living Chozo who ends up attacking her and stealing her abilities leaving her near defenseless. What was the reason for the disappearance of the E.M.M.I. units and why did the Chozo warrior attack Samus? The truth lies on deep within planet ZDR.
Metroid Dread makes you immediately feel Dread upon starting the game since you have little to no powers and your defensive options are limited to your arm cannon, counter ability, and your wits in order to survive the threats that are looming. As the game progresses, you’ll fight enumerable enemies, explore vast locations, gather old and new powerups and suits, and uncover the mystery of Planet ZDR.
All the promotional material for Metroid Dread have emphasized the series’ horror roots of feeling alone and outnumbered. The new enemy that you encounter is called the E.M.M.I aka Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifier and it will stalk you without yielding until you either escape it (it has limited range in where it will stalk you), counter being captured by it, or it kills Samus upon capture. These sections shift between being horror, stealth, and platforming all to evade the E.M.M.I. The E.M.M.I are initially indestructible and impervious to damage and can cause you to panic trying to figure out how to take them down even though you can technically counter them grabbing you, the window of opportunity is incredibly slim. Eventually you will gain powerups such as the Omega Cannon that will give you the ability to take them down one by one until you take down all 6 E.M.M.I. Taking down the E.M.M.I is like taking down a Big Daddy in Bioshock and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Dread gives you the traditional gameplay loop of the franchise where you explore and collect items/power-ups that will grant you access to new and previously inaccessible areas. Dread goes on to expand the formula in nearly every way by giving you the literal planet of Planet ZDR to explore with its incredibly diverse array of environments and mass variety of collectibles and power-ups to seek out and discover.
Coming back to previously explored areas with new abilities and power-ups is always intoxicating as you feel unstoppable in taking down foes that previously gave you difficulties and being able to reach areas that were inaccessible.
Boss battles are some of the games best moments with them being challenging to the point of being almost like a puzzle needing to be solved and not a bullet sponge as you’ll need to learn their patterns the environments, and your newfound powers to topple them. When you get to the end of the game, you will be an unstoppable juggernaut and you have every right to be this powerful with all you will have to deal with leading to that point.
You may have the question of “do I need to have played the other games to enjoy this one?” and the answer is no because the game recaps quite a lot and lets you just enjoy this game as a starting point. If you’ve played the previous games then Dread rewards you for having done so with the numerous call backs and references it gives you to Other M, Fusion, the Prime Trilogy, Samus Returns, Super Metroid, and Zero Mission. When you reach the end of the game, there is a shocking reveal that will complicate things and give more insight into Samus’ origins.
This is hands down the most beautiful game that is on the Nintendo Switch. Mercury Steam were able to basically produce a next generation looking game on the Switch which is something that continues to baffle me about other developers and their half-hearted attempts at ports and original games on the system that run super roughly.
Samus has never looked this good before in a Metroid title as her armor looks stunning! The enemies and environments all are mesmerizing to look at as they are so detailed and vivid. Bosses are the absolute best they’ve ever looked here than ever in the franchise.
Performance wise, the game runs at a consistent 60fps at 900p docked and 720p 60fps in handheld mode and then toggles down to 30fps for a few closeups and cutscenes. The way the game smoothly switches between the two framerates is astounding.
The only downside to this game is gaming outlets promoting people to pirate the game and play it on an emulator instead of telling people to purchase it so that we can let Nintendo know that we want more Metroid especially when the series doesn’t sell well to begin with.
Oh, the game you mean? It has no flaws.
It took 19 years to finally get another mainline Metroid game and its damn good! Is it better than Super Metroid? That’s up to you to decide as I feel this rivals it greatly and exceeds it in many ways yet if we had to make a decision on which is better then I wouldn’t be able to tell you as they are the pinnacle of the franchise. Metroid Dread has incredible controls, the most beautiful graphics on the Nintendo Switch, an amazing story, tremendous replay value, and is a game that you need in your collection. Metroid is BACK!