Nintendo/MercurySteam – Nintendo Switch
Metroid Dread is the fifth mainline entry in Nintendo’s beloved Metroid franchise. You play as intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran, and the games are famous for their exploration-based gameplay, wide variety of power ups and unsettling alien atmosphere. Much like its forebears, in Dread you must fend for yourself with little guidance. It’s up to you alone to explore planet ZDR and uncover its secrets.
Dread is an apt name. From the get-go you are thrust into a perilous situation, with no alternative but to run and survive, pursued by indestructible machines called E.M.M.I. (Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifiers, naturally). Encounters throughout the game are often tense and require quick thinking as you attempt to avoid detection or, even worse, escape their grasp. Thankfully these segments are limited to specific areas of the map. While they can be nerve-wracking there is always a period of respite afterwards to catch your breath.
A joy to play
As a whole, Metroid Dread was a joy to play. While there were certainly moments of frustration, I didn’t feel they were the game’s fault. Bosses, for example, are as much about puzzle-solving as they are skill. Often the solution was something simple that I hadn’t seen (the boss introductions sometimes hint at what you have to do if you pay close attention). If something seems impossible, there’s a good chance you’re approaching it the wrong way and there’s an easier solution. Likewise, if I found myself lost and backtracked too far, the true path forward was never too difficult to find once I looked at the map properly. And there were still rewards for my exploration in the form of hidden upgrades. So I didn’t feel I’d wasted my time wandering.
As in previous Metroid games, it feels fantastic to rebuild your arsenal of weapons, suits and abilities as you progress through the game. By the end you feel truly unstoppable, although importantly the difficulty remains well-tuned. After a point regular enemies may no longer pose a threat. But there are plenty of difficult bosses to overcome and optional puzzles to solve while exploring to keep you engaged.
Worth the nineteen-year wait
It’s almost absurd to think that it took nineteen years for this game to come to fruition. But I am so grateful that it is finally here. While a lot of my experience was driven by nostalgia, that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a beautifully crafted game. It just felt so good to play. It isn’t the longest – it should take most people 10 to 20 hours to complete 100% on a first play through. But it’s rich in content. And the rate at which you gain new suits and abilities is rapid, resulting in a very addictive gameplay loop. There’s always that ‘just one more room’ feeling. It reminded me a lot of other classic Nintendo games where I would play well into the night, always eager to discover something new.
In short, it has that spark of Nintendo magic, that level of polish that truly elevates it and makes it a memorable gaming experience. I am sure that as the years pass this will be considered a classic alongside others in the series. I really hope that Dread sells well and we don’t have to wait another nineteen years for a sixth entry. It was both a wonder and relief that this game delivered. Hopefully this is a sign of more good things to come from Nintendo.
For more information on Metroid Dread, and the history of the franchise, you can read the Metroid Dread Reports here: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Metroid-Dread-1987653.html#The_Metroid_Dread_Reports
Words by Andy Porter