‘Metroid Dread’: an adventure 19 years in the making


Courtesy of Nintendo

“Metroid Dread” is the sequel to 2002’s “Metroid Fusion” and has been released exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.

Grant Soedler, Herald Reporter

“Metroid Dread” is the newest game in the “Metroid” series, released exclusively for Nintendo Switch. A sequel to 2002’s “Metroid Fusion,” “Dread” is the first new mainline “Metroid” adventure in 19 years.

But just because a game takes a while to come out does not always guarantee quality. So, was the long wait worth it?

“Dread” stars Samus Aran, a renowned bounty hunter who has saved the galaxy countless times. Fresh off the events of “Metroid Fusion” (where she survived isolation on a research station filled with deadly parasites that could infect, assimilate and then imitate any living being) Samus suddenly receives a transmission showing one of these parasites is alive on the planet ZDR.

The Galactic Federation has already sent seven research robots called E.M.M.I. (Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifier) to investigate, but have lost contact. Wasting no time, the bounty hunter hurries to the planet. When she arrives, Samus discovers that the E.M.M.I. have become hostile and must now evade them as she continues her investigation of the planet.

Dread’s gameplay is very much what you would expect from the “Metroidvania” genre: players will explore Planet ZDR’s many environments as they search for upgrades, fight bosses and gain new abilities that enable them to progress further.

While this game style has recently been largely dominated by the indie scene, with titles like “Hollow Knight” and “Axiom Verge,” the original “Metroid” was the first, and “Dread” shows that the franchise can still hold its own even among the industry’s new blood.

The movement and controls of the game are incredibly refined, and it is very fun to run around and explore, making combat and puzzle solving very satisfying.

Another place “Dread” excels in, is its difficulty level. Nearly every enemy has an attack that must be carefully countered, allowing you to deal lots of damage if you succeed but dealing lots of damage if you fail.

While not every enemy will give you trouble, the boss fights are where the combat gets more intense. Each one is tough and arduous and will test your skill in learning their patterns as you pump them full of missiles.

Also challenging are the E.M.M.I. encounters. Unable to be damaged, the robots will relentlessly pursue you and you must evade and hide from them in order to make it to the next area. If they catch you, you have only two brief opportunities to escape before you get a game over. These take some time to get used to and can be very stressful if one spots you and gives chase.

Another place “Metroid Dread” shines is in its presentation. The series’ jump to Nintendo Switch clearly had a big impact on the quality of animations and environments, both of which are frankly gorgeous.

Samus moves incredibly realistically; she will recoil when firing, swing realistically from walls and turn her upper body while shooting backward out of a slide. In environments, you can often see many flora and fauna in the background, with creatures flying through the trees or running away as Samus disturbs them.

Yet, with these positives, there are a few flaws. The music is rather weak, especially compared to other games in the series; it is not terrible, but nowhere near as catchy or memorable as something like “Super Metroid.” Another weak area of the game is the ability progression; it takes a while to obtain abilities that allow you to fully explore most of the game’s map. It is also fairly easy to get lost.

Overall, “Metroid Dread” deserves 4 out of 5 stars. It is a fantastic game and one of the most challenging ones that I have played recently. Though the music is weak and the progression feels slow in the beginning, if you are at all a fan of adventure, action or exploration games, you will have a great time with it.