Metroid Dread Review: Samus Returns with a Vengeance
Its not very often that Nintendo releases a Metroid game that can Be said to be very good without having to soften it with some sort of qualifier and the fact this game also happens to be the long rumored. Almost mythical Dread pushes this over the top. As one of the high points of Metroids 35 year, run. Theres no mistaking that Dread was made by the same team as Samus Returns, which was a middling entry but theres more confidence and clearly a much higher budget. This time. A little blandness, still remains in the world design, mostly in the samey metallic corridors that make up the early game. But the overall level of polish and detail is pleasantly surprising.. Samus has never had a cooler design than the Dread suit and the animations and camera work frame her as a bigger badass than ever before.. The background is used more effectively than in any Metroidvania. Ive played whether its to stress the danger, a new environment poses or to hint at the presence of an important powerup.. The lighting especially, is incredibly well done, and the sidescrolling perspective allows rooms to be very specifically crafted to look great from that one angle. I generally dont like the look of 3D sidescrollers, but Dread is one of the few. That leaves me feeling that sprites wouldnt have been as good.. They even managed to make chromatic aberration, look alright. Its easily one of the best looking Switch games and it doesnt disappoint as the first HD Metroid.
. Unfortunately, the music does. A lot of it sucks. In my opinion, often sounding like scrapped Luigis Mansion tracks done on a Casio keyboard.. I give the game credit for not relying heavily on remixes this time. The norfair theme has been driven far into the ground by now and its a relief that they didnt recycle. It again, but it still sounds like theyre, trying to recreate the vibe of norfair and ending up with a generic off brand version instead.. There are good themes for some areas and the score is only a let down, because the series has had such a long history of strong music.. Even some of the most mundane side area. Themes in the older games generate more atmosphere than the best Dread tracks.. So it may not be bad, but it might be the weakest soundtrack of the mainline Metroids, even Other M at least had some high production orchestral arrangements that were impressive.. I wish Kenji Yamamoto were still creating the music instead of only supervising it because its just not up to the level of everything else. The game is doing., Thankfully, in almost every other way, MercurySteam nailed it.. The action is better than ever due to Samus having the fullest arsenal of abilities, yet every classic powerup returns. Alongside new moves that enhance your mobility., The pace is improved by sliding under small gaps. Instead of using the morph ball. Attacks can be dodged with a rapid dash and the speed booster returns in all its glory.
. After its absence in Samus Returns, its doubly clear how important the booster and shinesparking are to the feel of Samus as a character.. There are so many more possibilities with these powerups in the game and Dread, isnt afraid of pushing their usage to extreme levels. The game is full of complex multi room puzzles that require not only a mastery of shinesparking, but also a lot of forethought about where the hell to even begin from. Getting 100 completion is harder than in any game aside from maybe Zero Mission, but it remains fair And is completely possible without a guide.. The game leaves no doubt that it was designed for the most hardcore fans and it was designed pretty damn well.. The melee attack is better integrated into the combat and doesnt feel broken. This time. Enemies, fake you out and make the counter timing harder to judge and the penalty for missing seems more severe.. The game not only allows you to melee when running or jumping, but often requires it in order to take an enemy out effectively.. They made the mechanic more challenging to master, while also making it more fluid and less disruptive to your momentum directly addressing the complaints most people had about it in Samus Returns.. The only real problem I have about the basic movement is that the analog stick sucks for 2D Metroid. We all know this and it sucked in Samus Returns as well. Its different here, because the higher difficulty and the inclusion of shinesparking provide more opportunities for the stick to register the wrong input.
Its a necessary compromise, because the game needs analog control for aiming. And I do think that mechanic is a valuable addition, but it feels like there had to be a better solution than this. Theres. No analog movement, for example, tilting the stick. Even a small amount results in a full run, which is a waste of one of the few advantages. Stick based movement should have.. I wanted to test if there was some way for Dpad controls to have worked.. I used Steam to map the Dpad as an analog. Stick in Samus Returns and, unsurprisingly, it feels great to move that way.. The problem is that switching your thumb back to the actual analog stick to aim is very clumsy and fatiguing to the point that it ends up feeling more cumbersome than just using the stick for everything.. It might have been possible to keep your thumb on the D pad by handling aiming with the gyro, but a lot of people would have hated that, because you know motion., No matter how it would have been great to have some way to use the D pad. Even just temporarily, to handle the shinesparking sections theres, only one action mapped to the pad and if they had put it on D pad up, you still could have moved, left and right and entered the morph ball.. Putting that aside, Samus still feels more powerful and acrobatic than before, and the enemies are balanced to match.. This is by far the hardest Metroid and I probably saw the game over screen well over one hundred times before I was done.
. All of the bosses provide a steep challenge and most of them took at least a few tries for me to clear, but none of them ever felt cheap.. They can be hard enough that the first time around you may feel like the fight is impossible, but with every attempt youll make major progress and in just three or four tries you can have the fight mastered.. The game does an excellent job of rewarding your effort, and most of the powerups in the game are well earned through these kinds of struggles., And one of the best parts is that the game doesnt rely on past enemies. Aside from Kraid, who was shown off in the trailers, pretty much every boss is a new design.. The final boss may be the best finisher, a Metroid game has ever had and its all the better for being something completely original and not Ridley. For the eighth time., The EMMI robots also provide a new kind of challenge, even if theyre rooted in Fusions SA X. They expand on that idea of an unkillable enemy you have to run from, but they push it much further. You have to escape through larger areas that youre completely unfamiliar with frantically taking every chute or door. You come across to escape without a second thought.. The new cloak ability gives an opportunity to use stealth, but it has to be carefully timed and is still nerve wracking. In its own way., After being terrorized by each robot for a while youre, given the gift of a superlaser that blows their heads off, which is another example of the great sense of reward, the game has.
. But even then the danger is still very high and you have to choose the right time and place to begin charging.. It adds some amazing intensity to the game without derailing the normal Metroid gameplay and for the most part, is a successful addition., NO God no .no.. But there is one section that breaks down and briefly ruins the game for me. After getting killed by the drones a few hundred times, the fear does wear off and as your mobility improves, they become less intimidating.. The game responds to this by trying to force every possible cheap trick at once, with the last drones, giving them the ability to hear you from any distance see you through walls shoot you through walls. Freeze you in place and on top of everything else, youre forced underwater before getting the gravity suit.. The only way to survive is to use your cloak ability, but it doesnt last very long and will not recharge until you start moving again, meaning that you have to take a step and trigger another drone chase again before the bar will refill. And the bar has To completely refill before you can activate it again, meaning that youll be exposed for a long while, while trying to make a sluggish escape to a safe area., And there really is no safe area to hide. When the drone is locked on. Since it will kill you. While youre still cloaked., It will hover around in an unfairly persistent way.
Even when youve been completely silent., I thought I could make noises in one spot to lure it in and then activate the cloak to slip away to a different location, but no, it will still follow you instead of taking the bait, even though by the games rules, You should be all clear., Apparently you can sequence break and get the gravity suit early, but in my experience playing as intended, the only way to get through this segment was to pull off a few consecutive melee counters.. Instead of making the drone intimidating again, it just made it really frustrating, and I think it would have been better to just drop the concept and omit the last drones rather than trying to force the idea to work after it had run its course.. The upside here is that its extra rewarding when you finally blow this particular asshole away., As mentioned earlier most major powerups, are earned either by fighting enemies like this or finding secret rooms and thats great.. The game even has built in rewards for sequence, breaking with mechanics that can only be taken advantage of by getting an item early.. There are some slight nitpicks about how the expansions are found, but nothing that really matters.. It seems like theyre, either completely obvious and out in the open, just waiting for you to get the right powerup to grab them or theyre the most deviously hidden shinespark puzzles possible. Theres, not much in between rooms that still have undiscovered powerups will glow on the map And there were surprisingly few of these glows over the course of the game.
. The majority of powerups will be seen and marked on your map. The first time you pass through an area leaving very little that needs to be uncovered and thats kind of disappointing.. One of the most surprising things about the game is how hands off it is when it comes to the exploration and powerup usage.. There are tutorials that cover the basics, but they dont tell you everything: a powerup can do and the game will trap you in certain areas until you figure out a new way to use your abilities.. This is straight out of Super Metroid and it was kind of shocking to see a modern, Nintendo game test. The player like this.. There are no objective markers this time and youre rarely given much direction. Adam may point you to a certain sector but thats about as much help as you get.. There are lots of environmental puzzles that have to be solved through intuition, like following a lava pipe to find the terminals it leads to, and the game never states the obvious or beats you over the head with the answer.. It basically does just what fans have wanted. The series to do for years and lets you figure it out yourself. That alone doesnt mean that the exploration is all good, though. Theres. A reason Nintendo has relied on objective markers so much in the recent games and thats, because intuitively leading the player around a world is really hard.. This games approach is to lean heavily on a new feature that lets you see every instance of an obstacle type on the map.
These markers are a great idea and they make it far more convenient to backtrack to earlier areas.. The problem is that you dont really know when youre supposed to backtrack or which sector to backtrack to there may be dozens of obstructions highlighted all over the world at any moment.. Shortly after entering the third zone, theres a dead end, the game wants you to return to a previous area, but gives no indication of it other than one obstacle marker that happens to be near the shuttle.. I always like to check if Im just a dumbass or if this is a real design problem, so I watched a couple lets play videos and all of them struggled in that same spot.. Ideally, the map leads players where they need to be on its own, but its not over. The line to give the player a small nudge in situations like this Prime gave the player alerts about odd activity in order to steer them back to old areas, and that was fine.. Instead, I wasted a lot of time and had to give up in order to head back to the previous area out of desperation. Dread. Does this a lot and yanks you back and forth between zones more than any past game.? Even if you just entered a new area within minutes, youre jumping into elevators trams and teleporters, to revisit the old ones, using the process of elimination to check every marked obstruction in every area of the map.
Until you find that one that actually leads forward., It feels kind of like hunting the last remaining missile tanks in older Metroid games, where you have to comb every inch of the world. Looking for that one thing you missed., You dont have much forward momentum. As a result, and in a way it still feels like the developer is controlling you, they may not be putting a giant beacon on the map, but theyre still taking away your agency to explore in some way by forcing such a haphazard and broken path through the Planet. Those obstruction markers are dangerously close to becoming the new objective markers.. They also do gate off certain areas to prevent backtracking, either with sealed doors or with falling debris. Its nowhere near as bad as Other M or Fusion, and you can eventually clear these obstacles yourself later in the game, but theyre still interfering with your ability to backtrack. To a small extent – and it doesnt seem necessary.. None of this is a major problem, but I did want to note it because indies have done incredibly well with world design lately and compared to the best Metroidvanias. I think official Metroid is still a little behind the curve.. Thankfully, they dont gate 100 item completion until the last minute. This time. Fusion started this trend by locking all of the sectors and only allowing you to return to them after getting the screw attack right before the final boss.. It kind of made backtracking feel pointless, because all of your effort would only be useful for one fight.
. Other M literally didnt, let you collect 100 until after you had beaten, the game. Samus Returns, also gated a lot of items behind webbing that could only be removed by a metroid. Dread. Doesnt do any of that shit.. The few aforementioned obstructions, aside youre free to backtrack and collect items whenever you want. And that matters a lot, because this is a harder game where youll want those expansions for everything youre doing not just the final boss.. The length feels just about right at about 10 hours, and that was with 100 item collection. Its not a long game, but it isnt short and it ends, while its still fun. Ive used a lot of superlatives while describing it mostly good its the hardest Metroid game. It has the best action, the best villain and that reflects the quality of work that MercurySteam put into this. Since Dread released. A lot of information has begun surfacing about how shitty the company apparently is to work for with anyone contributing for less than 25 of the total development time left out of the credits.. There are workers who reportedly put as many as 11 months into the game without receiving credit, and that seems to be among the most minor of the accusations. So far.. The general culture created by the management seems to be one of intimidation and coercion.. So the fact that the developers managed to pull off a Metroid that exceeds the past games in so many ways, while working under those conditions is commendable.
Its certainly not the first time a great Metroid game came from a toxic work. Environment.. I have my pedantic little list of faults, but very few of them stopped me from enjoying Dread and I would easily put it above Fusion Zero Mission and Samus Returns.. I still think Super Metroid has the best world and atmosphere of the 2D games, but theres. No shame in falling short of Super Metroid. If you need a number put on it, Id give it a 9 which may be a little inflated, but as far as I care the game and its staff deserve the tilt., And so now you know what you have To do buy it., You should already have done that.. If you havent, put your dipshit money in your little dickhead pockets and go to the store and say one Metroid, please Theyll! Do the rest. A lot of publications ran articles about how easy the game is to emulate. Thats great, and I look forward to emulating it myself down the road but support the fucking game. First. MSN, linked to a ROM download right in their article. NO. FUCK. You BUY THE GAME. Nintendo fans always talk about how they want more Metroid, but they seem to disappear when one one finally comes out.. This is a rare chance for Metroids commercial success to finally match up with the critical success and Nintendo might become inclined to give us more than one game, a decade.. So pretty please, with sugar on top buy the fuckin game.
Nah thats bullshit.. They dont treat their workers right. Why should I buy their game? You dont buy the game. I dont buy you. What The fuck does that even mean? What did I just walk into You? Dont buy the game I dont buy you.. Why are we all pointing guns at each other? I wasnt gon na buy it either way, no ones losing money here, God dammit, I dont even know what a Metroid is Rampant.