Metroid Dread

What kind of dreadful crap are they making now?
  • Review Date: October 29, 2021
  • Release Date: October 8, 2021
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Mercury Steam
  • Genre: Open Platformer

Yeah, I know; I wanted to review a different game every day this year. Unfortunately, as the games got longer as I came across the newer ones, I had realized that I just didn’t have the time or desire to play them all the way through. I wasn’t able to keep up. Then summer happened and I wanted to get outside and enjoy the trails. That’s why the daily reviews ended. Now, there won’t be any set schedule.

As a matter of fact, I just gave up on gaming for a short while. I had Final Fantasy XVI to look forward to, but let’s be real. Square has said and done nothing with the game this year. Metroid Prime 4 seemed to be going nowhere. Because of that, I just stopped bothering with any gaming news because none of it interested me. What a mistake that was. Luckily, I had allowed Nintendo to send me emails about their products. Even though I only check my email, say, once a month or so, I scanned through it on September 28. It had Metroid Dread in the title, and I thought, “Metroid Dread…wait, what? What the heck is this?” Well, it’s basically Metroid 5. Awesome.

In preparation for this, I went back to play the first four “main” Metroid games: Metroid (all items, no assistance), Metroid II (using online maps), Super Metroid (all items and bosses, no guides or maps), and Metroid Fusion (standard playthrough). I also did a little Zero Mission but didn’t go too far.

That’s enough of my stories; let’s move on to Dread’s story. Basically, Samus is sent to ZDR and has to find her way back to her ship. Along the way, she’ll collect abilities that allegedly make things easier for her. She’ll also run into EMMI robots, who are programmed to protect specific areas. Confused? I get it, as this makes no sense. Luckily, the story means very little. I really don’t care what the story is; just give me the Space Jump.

As always, allow me to start with the good things. Simply put, this game looks good. Everything is very pleasing on the eyes from the backgrounds to Samus herself. For example, the shot below shows Samus and a missile refill station. My eyes, though, really liked the background on the left side of the screen.

That background is also animated. The waves go up and down and the rain just keeps falling. The game is full of quality animations, including Samus herself. Samus has 24,330 moves, and every single one of them has fluid animation and realistic movements.

The control scheme is where the problems start. For one, there are just too many things Samus can do and too many buttons or combination of buttons to keep straight. Here’s a partial list: Aiming (L), Sliding/morphing (ZL), Grapple Beam (ZR & Y), Missiles (R & Y), Beam (Y), Jump (B), Counter (X), Flash Shift (A), etc. That’s a lot to keep track of and it’s enough to make the average gamer insane.

Of special note is the horrible aiming mechanic. Holding L to aim is fine, but the game offers no way to lock onto a target, nor does it automatically sense a target (there is one exception I won’t spoil). It’s a royal pain, and amazingly, it’s even worse when the Omega Cannon is loaded up. Players have to hold down L, R, and Y, plus the directional to aim. Letting go of the Y button releases a shot. This is unnecessarily complicated and it only adds to the frustration of playing this game.

As if that isn’t aggravating enough, the game also likes to block Samus into areas and force her to advance to the next boss. I ended up in an icy area at one point and fell into a boss fight. After hundreds of tries, I finally beat it, but the game locked me into the freezer at that point until I won that battle. Now, I’m on the following boss fight against a creature that shoots out a pink substance and I have no way to go exploring for more items and come back to the fight later. The fight is making me want to bang my Switch against my computer desk, so I needed to do something else while I calm down.

This game is infuriating. It’s extremely difficult. There were several instances where I had to peek at a walkthrough to figure out where to go next, particularly in an underwater area. The bosses, though, are a whole new level of pain. Every boss battle goes the same way. First, Samus gets her butt kicked quickly. Second, Samus gets her butt kicked a bit slower. Third, Samus gets her butt kicked slowly. Fourth, Samus wins, but then the boss has another phase. Fifth, Samus gets her butt kicked in the second phase. Sixth, Samus wins, but I didn’t know I had to press X during the death scene to actually kill the boss (seriously, how in the world is anyone supposed to figure that out?), so Samus has to do it all over again. Seventh, Samus wins. Five minutes later, repeat it with another boss. To be fair, though, Dread does place Samus right outside boss rooms or EMMI zones upon a game over so she doesn’t have to go all the way back.

The boss battles test my patience. They’re all just a matter of doing it repeatedly, while doing a tad bit better each time. When did Samus become so weak? Every hit from a boss takes at least a full energy tank off the health bar. It’s ridiculous. Every battle then becomes simply trying to figure out how to avoid getting hit while causing damage.

Samus rides a shuttle between areas.
Samus stops to check out the mountains.
The screen actually zooms out here to show the fires.
Hey, look, it’s our old buddy Kraid! (I’m sorry if that’s a spoiler.)
Samus can’t reach that energy tank because of the fan blowing, yet the energy tank stays in place.
I wonder what those green lights are for; I can’t do anything with them right now.
Here’s a room that exists for no other reason than to force usage of the Grapple Beam.
Here’s a look into Samus’ eyes. She’s listening to a story here.
Samus discovers a magic box.
I rarely hide from the EMMI robots; I usually just try to outrun them. This time, I hid.
I once saw a museum exhibit that looked like this…
This looks like a game show set. What is Samus playing for today?
Welcome to the freezer.

This game looks good and plays smoothly and it is a fine follow up to Metroid Fusion. However, there are too many buttons and the boss battles are excessively tough, so the grade will suffer because of it.

Grade: B

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