Introduction to the Metroid Dread Review
Metroid Dread in essence epitomizes the theme of Dread itself. Being the long awaited sequel to Metroid Fusion, Metroid Dread had some pretty big and dusty shoes to fill. Let’s find out if the latest Metroid game can fill the old man’s shoes in this review of Metroid Dread for the Nintendo Switch.
Travel to Another Hostile Planet
The story follows the latest adventurer for famed planet destroyer, I mean bounty hunter, Samus Aran. The Federation receives a mysterious signal showing a video of Parasite X. The very beings known to engulf all natural organic life on a planet. This video claims that Parasite X is alive and well upon another planet. It is for our favorite eco-terrorist, yeah that’s what Samus is fans, to investigate this new planet and destroy Parasite X should it truly still exist there.
The Powers, Hand Them Over
As with any Metroid game, we can’t have Samus letting you live out your power fantasies right out of the gate. So meet the game’s main villain Raven Beak, who shows up at the start of the game to somehow strip Samus of her powers. You know, for a famous bounty hunter, Samus is kind of an airhead when it comes to running into traps.
This little scene leaves you at your basic power level. Not like it matters as you will spend most of the game under-powered compared to the threats that Planet ZDR has in store for you. Raven Beak stripping you of your abilities forces the well-known gameplay loop of the Metroid Series.
Explore, Shoot, Loot, Repeat
The Metroid loop essentially has Samus get stripped of her power. Explore an Uncharted area with a ton of backtracking. Find your upgrades all over again. And finally repeat with each upgrade found until you blast your way into the final battle.
There is nothing horribly wrong with this formula, and even has helped to spark an entire sub-genre of gaming itself. That being said, Metroid Dread feels stuck in the past with how it does this. It just immediately goes into the loop, with the backtracking rather unclear. The lack of direction made me feel like I was stuck behind a grandma leaving for Sunday church on a Tuesday for all the progress I felt like I was making.
This isn’t to say that the Metroid series formula is bad in and of itself. But there has been such innovation done to the genre that it is clear Dread’s development ideas were in a self-contained bubble.
No, No I’ll Drive ADAM
Man did I hate ADAM in this game. He either really made me feel talked down to or just kept repeating information I already knew. Now this makes sense later in the game as to why ADAM is so unhelpful. But the sheer lack of direction he tends to give you really made these scenes seem as pointless as the extras section on a Blue-ray. Hell, they could patch out all of your interactions with ADAM and Metroid Dread would lose nothing for it.
Hands down the best and most terrifying part of Metroid Dread is the spots where the EMMI chase you. The sheer terror of an EMMI just dropping from the ceiling makes this more of a horror experience than the traditional Metroid affair. Your only option is to high-tail it faster than Roadrunner if you want a sheer chance at survival. Because getting caught and hoping to survive against that tight counter timing will have you wanting to throw your Joy-Cons across the room.
The boss battles can’t even compare to this. Yeah, the boss battles are part of what makes you feel constantly under-powered. But they are defeatable in a way that the EMMI aren’t. And watching the EMMI evolve alongside you and utilize new tools adds to the rush of trying to evade them.
Unfortunately, as with most Switch games, Metroid Dread struggles with handheld mode. Seriously, what is the point of the Switch being a hybrid console if its own parent company can’t develop to utilize it. There were parts where there were some serious issues with frame rate and button inputs registering. Many of which happened on bosses or with unique field enemies. Surprisingly, the final boss fight had zero performance issues. The game worked perfectly from start to finish. But I am willing to bet that is simply because the Switch didn’t have to render an entire area and could focus on just one room. Because right after the fight we are back to the lag. Now I do want to stress that I only experienced these issues when the Switch was in hand-held mode, and that Metroid Dread worked fine when docked. But what is the point of a Switch game you can’t just pick up and go?
Metroid Dread is a phenomenal game. And I do understand why everyone just kept telling me that I had to play it. But it is by no means my personal game of the year, and I know others that feel the same way. While the game looks amazing and is fun to play. There were simply too many bugs going on to make up for all the good there was on offer. Perhaps after a few patches Metroid Dread can be the perfect game for Switch owners. But it simply isn’t there yet.
- Good visuals
- Both terrifying and fun
- Challenging boss fights
- Performance issues, such as frame rate and missing inputs
- ADAM is useless
- Archaic game design
Second Opinions From Other Staff
“Metroid Dread is the slickest, smoothest Metroid experience to date. The progression keeps you feeling underpowered until the very last moment, whilst the layout of the world keeps you feeling helpless andlost.MercurySteam have managed to create a version of Samus that perfectly conveys the agility as well as the brute strength of the lady.” – Richard Strachan
“Overall, Metroid Dread was a miss for me. I find it hard to recommend it to even the staunch Metroidvania lover. This was definitely a game for fans waiting for Metroid Prime 4, or a sequel to Fusion. Or just fans of a game where their progress is completely undermined by Quick Time Events.that may also be too long” – James Fairbanks
“Metroid Dread is truly a high point for the series. The boss battles are some of the toughest and most rewarding I have ever encountered. Exploration is both fun and incredibly rewarding, especially while dodging the recurring threat of the EMMIs, which filled me with a palpable sense of… dread. Without a doubt this is my game of the year.” -Dan Holby