Written By Michelle Lynn Tackett
Everyone knows the big Nintendo pillars like Mario and Zelda. There is another game they forget. Metroid. Metroid doesn’t sell like Mario and Zelda, but it has had a profound impact on gaming. Think the Metroidvania genre. From Hallowknight to Dead Cells. You can see the blueprint of Metroid all over the place. Anytime a new Metroid game comes out, that is cause for a celebration. At E3, Nintendo showed off Metroid Dread, and fanboys and girls across the world let out a collective squee! A 2D Metroid to boot! After 19 long years after Fusion was released, we got Metroid 5 aka Metroid Dread. This was exciting and terrifying at the same time. Exciting because there is a new 2D Metroid game, but terrifying because of the rich legacy it has to live up to. Can Metroid Dread live up to the 2D Metroid Legacy?
Samus is an intergalactic bounty hunter who works for the Galactic Federation, and she was assigned to hunt down Metroids, which were created by the highly advanced race the Chozo. Samus did her job but discovered something called the X parasite, and Samus is sent to investigate how the X parasite got on ZDR. She meets a mysterious Chozo who attacks her, when she wakes up, she doesn’t remember what happened. All she knows is, that she lost her Varia suit and sets out to find her equipment and find out what this rogue Chozo wanted. Adam, (the computer who talks to Samus), guides her along the way, giving Samus some hints on where to go and what to look for.
There are some surprising twists and shocks in the story, but they aren’t overplayed. The story ties into the rich mythology and keeps it consistent. I am treading lightly so I don’t give away any spoilers, or hints at spoilers. The few stocks that are in the story are game-changers for the series. It makes you wonder what is going to happen with future installments.
Before Dread came out, some Youtubers and video game outlets were wondering if a 2D game would sell at 60 bucks. This is a ridiculous question, look at Mortal Kombat 11, and New Super Mario U DX. Both games sold over 10 million copies. Let’s not forget some game called Smash Ultimate, which has sold over 28 million copies. Metroid Dread being in 2D won’t hurt its chances of being a hit. Thankfully, Dread’s graphics are great. The art style has a slick, cold, and isolated look to it. The art style keeps the spirit of Metroid alive while giving Dread a crisp, and clean look for modern gamers. Each environment has a personality of its own, and there is variety in the types of environments in Dread. Snow areas, lava, forests, abandoned buildings, and industrialized sectors populate the planet of ZDR with small details peppered throughout each room like small insects, dust scattering, turning the water on in one room will turn it off down in another room, and heatwaves crackling and popping through the screen.
The character models are great-looking as well. Samus’s armor has never looked so good. Cool reflections and shining textures make each character and piece of armor look shined to perfection. The bosses are huge and highly detailed. Kraid has never looked more imposing. The animation is slick and fluid with realistic physics and movements from each creature. Running at a smooth 60 FPS mostly, Dread’s smooth frame rate helps the action move along at a brisk pace. 2D can produce some incredible graphics and Dread is quite the looker. Yes, Dread is worth 60 bucks.
Dread follows the grand tradition of traditional Metroid gameplay while updating the design for modern audiences. There are more checkpoints, save points, a color-coded map, and markers to keep players from getting lost. Which will happen in this game. The map is huge and the areas are like big labyrinths with clever interlocking levels that require you to take trains or elevators to different spots to experience the whole area. Counters are easy to pull off by pressing the X button, and wall climbing has been greatly improved from Super Metroid. When we find a secr The controls are perfect. Dread has better control than any Metroid game I’ve played before. Using grappling hooks, swinging, jumping, running and firing missiles has never felt better. Too bad there isn’t a button mapping option in the game, but that doesn’t take away from the experience.
If you like suit powerups and weapon powerups. Metroid Dread will be a dream come true! If you’re worried about your favorite item not cutting. They are all here with some brilliant new ones. My favorite is the Pulse Radar which helps you find hidden blocks, that can lead to secret paths or hidden items you need. What makes Dread so terrifying is the E..Is. They are the Terminator on Steroids. They can be almost impossible to counter and get away from.
Dread’s music isn’t on par with XC2, or BOTW, but the soundtrack is very fitting and gets the job done. The boss battle tune is my favorite track in the game. It gets your heart pumping and pulse sweating, it draws you in making you feel like you are battling the boss. Each area has its distinct flavor of music. All of them will help Samus feel isolated, which is the hallmark of Metroid, and some tunes get scary, such as the Emmi chase music. The frantic pace will have you jumping a few times. The music is on par with Super Metroid, which is a good thing. Creepy, isolated, and scary are on the menu for this soundtrack.
The sound effects are crisp and clean. Missiles firing, grapple beams crackling and creature screams have never sounded better. What is more impressive is what you don’t hear. Helping the game feel isolated, there are rooms where all you can hear is Samus’s footsteps, or some water running in the background. I held my Joy-Cons close to my chest a few times. The tension is palpable and when the scares do happen, be sure to have some wipes ready, you may crap yourself.
Dread has replaced Super Metroid as my favorite 2D Metroid game. The fluid gameplay, spot-on controls, and blistering gameplay rank in the top games I’ve ever played. The story makes sense, the music fits, and the boss battles are some of the best in any video game. Dread’s bright, but isolated look gives it a unique flare among the other 2D Metroid games. It doesn’t try to copy the other games, but it looks like it belongs in the Metroid sphere. New power-ups add complexity to your weapons, and the new power-ups are used perfectly in the world of ZDR. You better get used to your new weapon, because when you get it because the game will make you learn how to use it.
You have to use all your weapons and abilities if you want to defeat the bosses and navigate the huge map. Each area acts like one big connected link that flows together. Yes, there is backtracking to move forward, but it isn’t forced. The new powerups are terrific! The color-coated map makes traveling through areas a This is how you do a game.
There aren’t many flaws tbh. I wish there had been button mapping for people who wanted it. I also wish there would have been one more area. I didn’t want this masterpiece to end. That is all I can think of.
Metroid Dread is a master class in design, controls, art, and execution. If you are new to the Metroid series, be prepared, because it is a tough game, but it is a fair game, and never feels unfair. The word is huge, populated with huge bosses, tons of enemies, and great puzzles to solve. Samus has never been cooler with her new items and returning items. You feel so good when you are controlling her. Add in some of the best boss battles and intelligent puzzles and you have GOTY for 2021.
Score: 10/10 A must have!