Metroid Dread review

Samus is back and this time it’s… personal? Was it not before? I really can’t remember.

Metroid Dread picks up after the events of Metroid Fusion investigating a mysterious from the isolated planet. Oh snap

It’s Castleroid time

I don’t know if you know this, but Metroid has a bit of a reputation. Platforming in 2D hasn’t gotten any easier, and shooting random parts of the map in the hopes of finding the way forward is still just as fun as before.

That’s not fun. It never was.

Visually the game is smooth, and not overly busy. Managing to harken back to your old style while also updating graphics isn’t that easy, so kudos where they’re due.

Music? Not so much. Repetitive is a word a lot of people repeat when they want to use a word describing something repetitive. Did that sentence get annoying? Welcome to the Metroid Dread soundtrack.

And yet I can’t stop playing.

Mestleroidia, but also sneaky

Aside from the punishing difficulty, there’s an interesting new aspect to this particular romp in the Samus suit: stealth. See, in classic sci-fi fashion, some intense robots were sent to planet ZDR before Samus picked up her contract, but they got hacked and now they don’t like our favourite bounty hunter.

It ain’t easy being Samus.

Since it’s damn near impossible to kill these things without super awesome rare Omega energy, you’re left to skulk and hide to avoid them. Which you will fail at. A lot. And then the madcap chase sequence happens, as you desperately try to get enough distance between you and the killbot who totally just wants to talk.

While it’s not an instant kill should the bot catch you, the chance to counter is so slim that it may as well be. In my playtime, I managed to pull it off maybe 15 times, after being caught… well, more than that.

Honestly, if they weren’t called E.M.M.I., these robots would be perfect nightmare.

Wish there was a better word for these games

Speaking of countering, I’m really not a fan of parrying in a primarily shooting-based game. I know it’s what all the cool kids are doing, but honestly, I don’t associate Metroid with melee at all, so shoehorning it in here is not only irritating, but fundamentally jarring.

Speaking of ludiucrous decisions, I’ve seen someone refer to the aiming system as similar to filling out a mortgage application. As someone who has done that in the past, I can safely say that this is more annoying, but with fewer life-alterting ramifications. Contorting your hands into mangled claws to hold L and R simultaneously to aim your rockets, then use both sticks to move and actually fire with Y?

Seriously, what the hell. Uncomfortable, convoluted, and just plain not fun.

Good thing the rest of the game is decent, right?

Wait, what’s a Metroidvania?

Metroid Dread is a punishing game, with a steep learning curve that may put off modern players. Back in the day, you had to stick with a challenging game because there weren’t many other options. Now we can swap to something else lickety split, and I feel like many people will.

Much of the game is irritating, frustrating, and overly reliant on past goodwill. But damn, I keep going back.

l argue that as long as you’re having fun, it’s worth sticking with. If it gets too much, take a break. If it’s still too much, well, Hollow Knight and all the other Metroidvanias are right there.

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