Home Opinion ‘Metroid Dread’ is terrifyingly brilliant

‘Metroid Dread’ is terrifyingly brilliant

(Photo Courtesy of Nintendo official webpage)

By Gabe Fisher

On Aug. 6, 1986 Nintendo released “Metroid” for the Famicom Disk System, the Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was an action game with an emphasis on exploring the alien-infested planet Zebes as the bounty hunter Samus Aran, with the goal of killing the Mother Brain, the leader of the space pirates. It initially had very little success in Japan, but it started something that would one day get big, becoming one of the namesakes of the Metroidvania genre, sharing its title with Konami’s Castlevania series. Samus’ adventures have been followed for a few decades now, and it appears to finally be hitting its breaking point. Because on Oct. 8 of this year, Nintendo and developer Mercury Steam released “Metroid Dread” – and it has been selling like hotcakes.

Picking up after the events of 2002’s “Metroid Fusion”, Samus is lured to the planet ZDR by footage of an X Parasite – a supposedly extinct species of single-celled organisms that kill and then imitate their infected hosts – and the disappearance of some research robots that were sent to ZDR to investigate the X. But upon arrival, Samus is ambushed by a mysterious Chozo, or a hyper-intelligent avian person, and finds herself drained of most of her abilities and near the center of the planet. With some help from her AI partner Adam, her only goal from that point is to survive and return to the surface, while regaining as many abilities as she can.

As the first brand-new 2D Metroid game since “Metroid Fusion” back in 2002, Dread has very big shoes to fill, and it does more than enough to do so. “Metroid Dread” is an excellent combination of tight and fluid controls, phenomenal design, and incredible atmosphere, which all create an excellent experience from beginning to end. At its core, “Metroid Dread” is a simple game of running, jumping, sliding, and shooting, but as you progress with the story, Samus will become equipped with more tools and weapons, making her both stronger and more agile. This allows the player to explore more of the expansive map the more they play, creating new routes in old areas, which lead to further upgrades, and eventually results in more power for their arsenal. The closer to the end of “Metroid Dread” you get, the more of a power trip it feels like, power that is very quickly stripped away from you when you try to fight any of the gone-rogue research robots, the Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifiers (EMMIs).

The EMMIs are one of the big reasons why the game’s atmosphere is so excellent. Being large, clawed mechanical beasts, the EMMIs are absolutely bloodthirsty machines that only care about one thing: taking Samus out with deadly efficiency. This is something they are able to do with little trouble at all, since getting caught by one is almost certainly instant death. In the areas they appear in, the EMMIs add immense amounts of tension to the game as the player desperately runs and hides from their constant pursuit lest they be sent straight to the game over screen. This tension, building upon the chase segments from “Metroid Fusion”, as well as the varied in-game environments, make for a very intense game to play and a pretty game to look at as every environment is treated with very close detail and lush colors.

But none of that would matter if the game wasn’t fun to play, and thankfully, it is. Every jump, every slide, every shot is extremely fun. Even at her weakest, Samus’ basic movement is fast, fluid and responsive, with every action the player performs melding together into a dance of linked movement that some games struggle to perform. And the controls only get more fun as Samus gets stronger, as some abilities, like the Speed Booster and Space Jump, allow for even crazier ways to approach situations. Weaving through enemies and the large world is one heck of a time, and skilled use of your abilities is very often rewarded. The only problem with the game is that the world can occasionally be a little confusing to navigate thanks to its size, but thanks to occasional, small pushes in the right direction and a nifty map, getting lost is never too big of an issue.

In conclusion, “Metroid Dread” blows any and all expectations out of the water, creating a phenomenal title that lives up to both its name and its predecessors. With Mercury Steam firmly established as the right people to be handling the series, the future of the Metroid series has never been more bright.


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