Metroid Dread wasn’t the game I wanted it to be, but I loved it regardless

Metroid Dread wasnt the game I wanted it to be, but I loved it regardless

Atmosphere: one of my favorite tools in media. It makes the viewer uncomfortable through music choice, visuals, and more that they sometimes don’t even notice. If I had to pick only one game series that could pull off the right atmosphere, it’d have to be Metroid.

The games, specifically the 2D ones⁠—not to say the 3D ones can’t do it as well⁠—are some of the most atmospheric games I’ve ever played. No game can pull it off as well. No series has ever immersed me into a world without any words as easily as Metroid has been able to.

This is why I was looking forward to Metroid Dread. I still actively play through Metroid: Zero Mission, so Metroid Dread was an exciting prospect for me. A new 2D Metroid game? Please sign me up!

The game came out and played almost as I hoped. It controlled smoother than any other Metroid game, but lacked one pivotal mechanic from the past games. In this game, you lacked the ability to infinity wall jump, a trick to scale up a sheer vertical wall, which spoke to the design of the game.

Compared to some previous counterparts, such as Zero Mission and Super, you could play the game in any order you wished if skilled enough. In Zero Mission, your first boss could be Kraid or Ridley, doesn’t matter which. Your limits for how you play the games are yourself and nothing else.

The constraints were limiting, yes, but I thoroughly enjoyed the game regardless. The limits put on the player are there for the narrative, and that works for building the atmosphere. Back to that concept of atmosphere, the sound, design, and music drive my previous point home to the fullest extent.

Most of the soundtrack I would never listen to outside of the game, but they built up the suspense and the feeling of being alone on an alien planet through all the different tracks. The E.M.M.I. theme⁠—one of the mini-bosses in the game⁠—filled me with a hazy uncertainty and fear, perfect for the enemy whose only goal is to hunt, chase, and kill you in one hit.

Metroid Dread uses atmosphere to build its world; simultaneously, it uses great cinematography to build its few characters. The few characters are the protagonist, Samus, the antagonist, Raven Beak, and the side character, Adam.

Throughout the game, there are many bosses, some of which have incredibly detailed, quick-time events that are closer to cutscenes. These cutscenes portray Samus as the seasoned bounty hunter she is, staying calm, cool, and collected even when fighting foes many times her size.

Most enemies also have a similar, smaller cutscene, which is actuated by pairing their attack at the right time with the boss’ attack. One of those I’d like to note is the E.M.M.I. ‘s attack, which, if timed right, saves you from an instantaneous death.

The timing of the move needs to be quite precise. You only have about a fraction of a second. I found the game quite challenging, but never too extreme for me to feel it unfair. Some of the fights felt hard and took me a few attempts to beat them, but the game does difficult right.

When I’d die and then press continue, the game would respawn me not at my last save point, but a place that felt fair—right before a boss room or outside an E.M.M.I. zone door. Small things like that made the game’s difficulty feel justified.

These cutscenes portray Samus as the seasoned bounty hunter she is, staying calm, cool, and collected even when fighting foes many times her size.”

With my love of the Metroid series, I just had to go for 100% of the items; I did it without any guides. Some of the tricks the game expects you to do for that full clear are brutally hard and felt nostalgically comparable to some of the things I did when trying to 100% complete Zero Mission.

The game is difficult but never pushes the player to feel frustrated with the game. When I died, I felt like I had played wrong or poorly. When I succeeded, it felt like I had played my cards right and took full advantage of what the game gave me.

Metroid Dread was not the game I hoped it would be. The game felt much more linear to me, but I had so much fun playing it. The game felt like a new take on the 2D Metroid formula, but it also felt like coming home after being away. I have never felt so disappointed in a game while also loving every second of it.

Dread finishes off the Metroid series storyline, but it never requires you to play the last games to be up to date. So play through the whole Metroid series, or jump in here. Either way, the game is a blast to play.