19 years in the making: Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread1
(Photos: Handout from MercurySteam)
The last time anyone was able to say they played a new Metroid game was way back in 2002, and now; 18 years later, Nintendo has finally blessed fans of the franchise with the fifth game of the series, Metroid Dread.اضافة اعلان

To those of you who aren’t familiar with the franchise, the Metroid series was the first game of its kind to blow-up in popularity, inspiring many other developers to follow the Metroid formula, creating the now popular genre of Metroidvanias. A genre that typically consists of 2D-platforming and interconnected maps that the player is required to constantly revisit as they progress through their game. 

Unlike in previous games, the developers at MercurySteam went above and beyond to provide a pristine Metroid game that not only lives up to expectations, but finds a perfect blend between the traditional feel of Metroid and new innovative mechanics. 

So, what’s it about?

To cut to the chase, Dread sends you to ZDR, a planet that is suspected to host the X parasite, a hostile shape-shifting organism that poses a threat to the world. Shortly thereafter, you discover that previous attempts to exterminate the parasite have failed and that you are the sole individual capable of handling the threat.

However, as you arrive on the planet, what was supposed to be a search and eliminate task quickly turns sour — a mystery warrior engages you in combat, and after a brief conflict, you manage to survive and escape the fight — at the cost of all of your skills and weapons.

(Photos: Handout from MercurySteam)

This puts you in a tough spot, requiring you to venture back to your ship while you try and collect everything you lost, all the while the robots that were sent to help you on your mission — the E.M.M.I — are hacked by the mysterious warrior and turned into baddies. 

This is where Metroid Dread first shows you the arduous road you’re about to go on; from the first few minutes, Samus is already at a significant disadvantage in the alien world. Most enemy encounters are daunting, with your character dying after only one hit. You will need to rely on quick reactions and stealth at first as you slowly rebuild your arsenal. But do not fret, while the game is not exactly the easiest to play, it’s pacing is immaculate, making it so that the more you progress, the easier these encounters become. 

(Photos: Handout from MercurySteam)

What I found great about Metroid Dread is how it defies your expectations when it comes to enemy and boss encounters, each having its own unique element and strategy to defeating them. Yes, at first it might all feel a bit too similar, but as you regain all your weapons, you begin to discover new ways of progressing. What is even better is how you decide to utilize your kit is completely up to you. The game doesn’t hold your hand, but in fact acknowledges the skill potential of its player and gives you an even playing field to flourish in this hostile world.

But are enemy encounters all 
there is to it?

Not at all! Metroid Dread provides you with a tonne of time to explore the world you’re in, all while the environment around you provides you with cues and clues to points of interest. The game design is spectacular when it comes to this, as in some instances you might find a giant robot wreaking havoc in the background only to face him in a boss battle as you progress through the area. Nothing feels static, which provides you with a greater level of immersion.
Exploration is also key to finding your scattered weapons, which you will need to not only deal with bosses, but also traverse roadblocks the world throws at you. This never feels forced, and the gameplay does a great job of remaining fluid and linear all the way through.

(Photos: Handout from MercurySteam)

Speaking of bosses, the battles are probably the greatest aspect of Metroid Dread. The monsters you battle are menacing to a ridiculous degree, often filling up the majority of your screen. These fights are no walk in the park, and you’ll probably find yourself having to repeat them multiple times due to their difficulty, but you’ll never really feel that they’re unfairly overpowered. It’s quite the opposite, as the feeling of satisfaction you get when landing that final blow, all while the soundtrack is blaring with more and more intensity, makes the whole thing feel like an epic triumph that you earned with skills you have been honing on your adventure.

The verdict

Metroid Dread is a masterpiece that everyone needs to try, regardless of if they’re a fan of the franchise or not. Newcomers might feel a bit put off by its difficulty at times, but the game doesn’t punish you for your blunders like other notoriously difficult games. With stellar combat, beautifully designed environments, and boss battles that kept me on the edge of my seat, it’s safe to say that these 19 years were worth the wait.

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