Samus Aran’s next mission begins…today.
Metroid Dread is out now on Nintendo Switch! pic.twitter.com/cQZYPX7Juw
— Nintendo UK (@NintendoUK) October 8, 2021
Metroid Dread has quite literally been years in the making. What started out as an ambitious project during the mid-2000s, Metroid Dread was originally supposed to be released for the Nintendo DS. However, technical limitations ensured that the game wasn’t to be, well, at least during that time. Thankfully, Metroid Dread has been revived from the dead for the Nintendo Switch and is developed by MercurySteam. This studio is perhaps best known for Konami’s Castlevania Lords of Shadow series.
Alas, here we are in 2021 and Metroid Dead makes its long-awaited revival and it becomes the first original side-scrolling title in the series since the fantastic Metroid Fusion from 2002 for the Game Boy Advanced. Yet the question remains, was Metroid Dread worth the wait? And the answer is a resounding, yes! Metroid Dread is more than worth the nearly 20-year wait.
In Metroid Dread our hero Samus Aran responds to an unknown transmission coming from the planet known as ZDR. Thought to have been wiped out from existence, a deadly parasite simply referred to as “X” has the uncanny power to mimic any creature it infects, including Samus. Before sending in the expertise of Samus, the Galactic Federation sends a team of EMMI robots (Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifiers) to confirm the existence of X and wipe them out once and for all.
However, when the Galactic Federation fails to get a response from the team of EMMI’s, Samus is called in to investigate. Knowing that the risk far outweighs the reward, a not so common trend for a typical bounty hunter, Samus flies into ZDR to find out if the X really exists and what happened to the EMMI’s. Though I think it’s fair to say that Samus Aran is not your typical bounty hunter. However, when Samus lands on ZDR, she quickly discovers that the sh** has more than hit the fan and seemingly at the heart of it all are possessed EMMI’s that will stop at nothing to ensure that Samus does not leave ZDR alive.
So, how does Metroid Dread play? Well, if you’ve played any other Metroid game in the series, you will feel very at home with its tried and tested formula. That said, if you’ve ever heard the term “Metroidvania,” then there’s a chance that you’ve played a side-scrolling platformer inspired by this iconic series. Without giving too much away, the planet ZDR has five main regions. Each is quite distinct from the last. Samus will navigate her way through the labyrinth-like region looking for a way out.
You can expect quite a lot of back-tracking in Metroid Dread and that’s all part of the joy. Various areas will not be accessible without a particular power-up and some such as the signature Morph Ball, you won’t acquire until later in the game than you might expect. However, without giving too much away, Samus has many other power-ups that will more than fill that void until you start rolling your heart out. One such power is invisibility, which not only comes in handy for accessing certain locked doors but also for escaping those annoying EMMI’s. Major abilities will be acquired by defeating some fun boss battles. Some are more challenging than others with a trial-and-error approach. At times I felt like raging, but when you suss its pattern and beat that boss, you’ll be the one feeling like a boss.
The greatest threat Samus has ever faced is one she never thought she’d have to…
Metroid Dread. 08/10/2021. pic.twitter.com/jXD404fF0q
— Nintendo UK (@NintendoUK) August 27, 2021
Now let’s get on to the EMMI’s. Depending on your progress in the game, each EMMI will pose its own level of threat. However, each will result in certain death if you are caught by one. You can escape with a well-timed melee attack, though they are deliberately difficult to pull off, at least for me. I won’t say how any of the EMMI’s are defeated, you can have that fun for yourself. What I can say, however, is that every EMMI is panic-inducing. An EMMI can only pursue you through certain areas and until you find the means to defeat it, they pose a great threat. Many times, I found myself running in circles repeatedly, until I found a subtle escape route or puzzle element to make my escape. The EMMI adds the right amount of tension to Metroid Dread to add a new element to the series. Thankfully, as stressful as an EMMI can be, it’s not Alien: Isolation Xenomorph (praise the heavens).
Metroid Dread is an amazing looking game that runs super smooth. It runs and looks so good that it surpasses anything that the Nintendo Switch might be capable of. It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing handheld or docked on the TV, Metroid Dread is easily one of the best-looking games on the Switch to date and one of the stylish games to release this year. Likewise, the audio design is simply sublime.
My first experience with this series was in 1994 with Super Metroid on the SNES. Other than being a brilliant game, I loved its eerie 16-bit soundtrack. While we’re of course not in the 16-bit era, the soundtrack of Metroid Dread reminds me of my love for Super Metroid. Each region of ZDR has its own look and with it, its own sound and ambience signifying its own identity. Metroid Dread is not only one of the best-looking games of 2021, but also one of the best sounding. Oh, and it plays wonderfully too.
Overall, as you already guessed, I’m a big fan of Metroid Dread. What’s more, if you’re new to this series, it doesn’t matter if you start here or with one of the classics. Because Metroid Dread does a handy job of introducing you to the escapades of Samus when you fire up a new campaign. Ever since the Nintendo Switch was released in 2017, it’s had a number of “system sellers” and Metroid Dread joins that elite group. I’m not saying you should go out and buy a Switch now to play Metroid Dread, but if you’ve been looking for an excuse to buy Nintendo’s console, Samus’ latest adventure offers you the best excuse yet. Simply put, Metroid Dread is one of the best action-adventure games that I’ve played in years. So yeah, just go and buy it already.
- A free demo of Metroid Dread is available to download via the Nintendo eShop.