Gaming

Review: Metroid Dread

Time has passed since an original work by our favorite galactic heroine, Samus Aran. Metroid Dread is the second game in the franchise developed by the Spanish studio MercurySteam. After proving their talents with the excellent Metroid: Samus Returns on 3DS in 2017 (a remake of Metroid II on NES), the studio got Nintendo’s blessing to create a sequel to Metroid Fusion, a fan-loved episode originally released on Game Boy Advance. in 2002.

The history of Metroid Dread takes place 20 years after the events of Fusion. Samus and the Galactic Federation believe they have exterminated the Metroid threat once and for all. However, a strange transmission from the planet ZDR would indicate the presence of the X parasites there. This parasite native to the planet SR388 is extremely hostile and can change shape in the blink of an eye, posing a threat to the entire galaxy. Therefore, the Federation decides to send EMMI (Multiform Interplanetary Mobile Explorers) to ZDR, but they stop transmitting their signal shortly after their arrival. Samus Aran takes over, she who has already been infected with the X parasite and survived after injecting a metroid vaccine.

Shortly after arriving in ZDR, Samus is confronted by what appears to be a powerful Metallic Chozo warrior. A brief duel follows and the protagonist is no match for this mysterious creature. The dominated warrior leaves Samus for dead, who will have to regain her powers in the hope of finding the culprit. Several questions arise, the first is why this villain left us unharmed. The Metroid Dread story couldn’t be more classic for the series. It’s a pretext to make us lose our powers and explore a planet, but I still enjoyed the plot.

metroid dread warrior hut

In terms of gameplay, MercurySteam has created an incredible experience. The controls are sublime; accurate, easy to understand, and packed with features. Samus can aim laser sight, jump, slide, shoot missiles, shoot laser. Regain classic powers like curling up (Morphball) to navigate narrow passages. Other powers are more original, for example, the abilities activated with the special indicator of Aion. The first in this category is the ghostly suit that allows you to camouflage yourself in the environment and thus avoid the hostile EMMIs that seek you.

Metroid Dread contains several areas where these killer robots have made their home. If you get caught, it is (almost) guaranteed death. The mechanics are very reminiscent of SA-X from Metroid Fusion that chased us around the space station orbiting the planet SR388. The tension experienced during these sequences is palpable; Aïon’s abilities help to avoid these confrontations or to go out. I died more often than I dare to admit, too reckless or in a hurry. I took a risk and they punished me for not adapting better to situations. What affects another point of the game: its difficulty. For once, I liked the level of difficulty that a Metroid game offers. The developers are not ashamed to show us the Game Over screen. Bosses, but also normal enemies, pose a good challenge. Nothing frustrating, because Samus has a substantial arsenal to deal with dangerous situations at ZDR. And if you fail, you will learn from your mistakes, because nothing is insurmountable.

metroid dread emmi

Metroid Dread strikes the perfect balance between the franchise’s classic gameplay and a slightly bolder take. It’s still daring to create a direct sequel to Fusion almost 20 years after the game’s release and still 2D on top of that. Note that there are 3D elements, especially during the cut scenes of the game. MercurySteam has made smooth transitions that fit the game perfectly, a real stroke of genius I’d say. They are pleasant moments that diversify the experience in a beautiful way.

Metroid Dread is one of the best games of the year for Nintendo Switch. I’d even say it’s a candidate for game of the year, all platforms combined. The game beautifully responds to the expectation that seemed endless to fans of the series who have been clamoring for a new 2D artwork for two decades! MercurySteam has demonstrated its perfect mastery of the Metroid universe, backed by clever and addictive gameplay that left me completely blown away. All in a sublime presentation worthy of the greatest productions in our industry, whether visually, sonically or technically.

The only downside is a lifespan that’s still too short for this Metroid Dread, ending in 8-10 hours. Yes, there are a few extras for fans who want to bring the experience to 100%, but nothing to show for it. And I would say that they are not worth it: the illustrations. Sorry, is that all? Unfortunately if! If you complete the game on Hard, you will be entitled to a beautiful illustration. The same goes for areas 100% completed. Note to studios: it’s ugly. There are so many options available and this is what we have at our disposal. Pain.

Verdict

The best

  • A careful presentation
  • Perfect controls
  • A good challenge
  • Memorable bosses

The least

  • A little short
  • Extras that are not worth it

Final note

9 / 10

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