Alright! It’s here, Metroid F** Dread is finally here! All these years of news, rumors and even some conspiracy theories, it is finally here. I haven’t written a game review in over 10 years, last one was actually for Metroid: Other M (in Portuguese), so it’s a great time to come back to it.
Of course, this post will include major spoilers, so please read it carefully.
The year was 2002, and Nintendo had recently released Metroid Fusion, a direct sequel to my favorite game of all times: Super Metroid. I was lucky enough to have an Indigo Game Boy Advance with a couple of games, but Metroid Fusion’s release date was in between my birthday and Christmas, so all I could do was wait for Christmas to get a copy for myself.
A couple of weeks before Christmas, Nintendo World (a Brazilian Nintendo magazine) published its complete walkthrough of the game, and that magazine cover was calling me to buy it. I was so excited that I bought it right on the spot.
Santa knew I was a good boy that year, so I got the game for Christmas, and I was able to finish it before New Year’s Eve - without using the walkthrough, I promise!
Metroid Fusion is quite linear compared to the other games in the franchise, but because of that, it was able to give us a game packed with story and some crazy shinespark puzzles.
Two years later, Nintendo released Metroid: Zero Mission, a remake of the first Metroid game. It was for sure a great time to be a Metroid fan, but many fans were counting the days to finally seeing a sequel to Metroid Fusion. Boy, little did we know.
For nineteen years, Metroid Fusion was the last canonical Metroid game in the timeline, and we had no idea what happened to Samus… until now.
Nintendo pretty much broke the internet when they announced Metroid Dread during this year’s E3. It was a huge hit right away, Twitter was buzzing about it non-stop, and the best thing is, the game would even release in the same year! WHAT!
The game was developed by MercurySteam, a Spanish company that also worked on Metroid: Samus Returns, the remake of the second Metroid released for the Game Boy, Metroid II: Return of Samus.
Metroid: Samus Returns had mixed opinions among critics, I played it and found the game to be cool, but nothing special. The game had some level design choices that I don’t particularly agree with, but at least Metroid 2D was back and that was already great!
The day the Metroid Dread package arrived at my house, I was so excited to play the game that I even forgot to unbox it for PlayReplay 😅
After a long weekend, I finished the game with 11 hours and 30 minutes and 87% of the items collected. It’s not quite a world record, but it was a good time with a good percentage of items collected.
Okay, okay, let’s get started with the Metroid Dread review.
Metroid Dread has 8 different areas that are interconnected by tunnels, elevators and teleports. All these connections are very organic and sell the idea of an alien world with wild and technological parts, and of course, lots of secrets hidden in every corner.
MercurySteam managed to capture exactly what makes a Metroid game a Metroid game, and many times I thought I was taking a super secret path and going off the intended path, and to my surprise I ended up exactly where I was supposed to go and found some main power-up or some boss, so the game is really good at using level design to push you to the right path.
The game is full of secrets and items hidden in every corner, and many of these items will make you spend hours trying to figure out how to get them. I went through a lot of items that I thought were impossible to get because I hadn’t acquired a power-up for it yet, only to later find that I simply had to git gud and use shinespark in a creative way to get the item. 👏 MercurySteam 👏.
The pace at which you find items and bosses is very well-balanced and keeps you engaged with the game almost all the time, except for some E.M.M.I areas that sometimes break the rhythm of the game and leave me a little frustrated.
MercurySteam has also worked hard to include the possibility of sequence breaks in the game, which makes it possible to acquire power-ups or face bosses before their planned time. For example, in the video below it is possible to get the Gravity Suit earlier than planned if you have Speed Boost and a lot of shinespark skill.
Now, in terms of area arts and styles, the game left a little to be desired. I beat the game four times, and I still can’t tell exactly which area of the game I’m in if I just look at a random room, which is totally different from what happens when I’m playing Super Metroid, however, I know that this comparison isn’t fair, because Super Metroid is one of my favorite games and I can’t even tell you how many hours I’ve spent playing it at every stage of my life.
Yet I feel Metroid Dread could have had more unique and/or monumental room designs.
Metroid Dread brings several classic power-ups from the franchise, such as the Grapple Beam and the Screw Attack, and introduces new power-ups that I hope will become part of the franchise going forward, such as the Diffusion Beam and the wonderful Flash Shift.
On the other hand, the game also features useless items, such as Spin Boost and Pulse Radar. To be honest, Pulse Radar is ok, but Spin Boost…
But let’s talk about good things, let’s talk about
how Thanos was right the Flash Shift, a new power-up that lets Samus do a horizontal dash, which is great for evading E.M.M.Is or annoying boss attacks.
Also, combined with shinespark, Flash Shift makes it possible to move quickly through the level like a pro and allows us to solve some amazing puzzles that MercurySteam made for us.
Metroid Dread has a lot of bosses encounters and is one of the hardest ones in the franchise. Unfortunately, many of these encounters are repeated bosses with slight to no variations.
I read somewhere that Metroid Dread had a bigger scope and it had to be trimmed down to match a specific release date, so it seems that the game was supposed to have a bigger variety of bosses, but these had to be trimmed down and replaced with the same bosses over and over again.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the bosses’ battles are quite epic, and Samus is more badass than ever.
The first boss is pretty much a tutorial and already sets the ground for what’s to come in the game with a great battle and awesome cutscenes.
Later on, you have the chance to do some planned sequence break, which leads you to have certain power-ups in certain bosses, and by using these power-ups in these bosses you will have different interactions that make you feel like you just discovered a secret - classic Metroid stuff.
Most bosses have an intended way to defeat, and a secret way, that can be unlocked either with a sequence break, shinesparking, or by being extra skilled.
The final boss is probably one of the hardest ones in the franchise, and it will definitely take you multiple tries to beat it. Made me remember how it was like to play Megaman back in my Game Boy Classic. Just die, die, and die to finally learn all the patterns.
The soundtrack of Metroid Dread is good, but of course it’s good, after all, some tracks are simply ripping off Super Metroid.
Again, I might be biased, but I know every music from Super Metroid by heart, they’re so epic it hurts, and for Metroid Dread, even after beating the game four times, I still can’t fully remember any music that isn’t ripping off Super Metroid.
I wish that playing a new Metroid was like playing a new Zelda game, where the soundtrack is always incredibly epic. Sure, some of the songs are the same as the first Zelda, but the new tracks are as good, or even better than the classic ones. I still get chill from Spirit Tracks soundtrack. Seriously. That game’s soundtrack is simply 👌👌👌
The game is quite hard, but I honestly didn’t find it as difficult as I read on Twitter, and I’m far from a good Metroid player, despite being a big fan of the franchise, I was never very good at playing it.
A lot of people compared the game’s difficulty to FromSoftware’s games, and well, I’ve never played Dark Souls, so I can’t say, but in my head I think the Souls games are a lot harder.
Despite the game’s difficulty level, it is quite generous with save rooms and even auto-saves for the first time in the franchise. If you die on a boss, the game automatically saves, and you can practically go back inside the boss room, ready to die again.
Why should you buy it?
The Metroid franchise was struggling a lot in the past 10+ years, trying to find its own way to be a success. In that huge time gap, many indie Metroidvania games came out, and they all pay their respect to the game that created the genre: Metroid.
Metroid Dread is far from being perfect, it has its flaws, but it’s still a great game. I think that the path that MercurySteam is taking the franchise is the right path, and with the success of the Nintendo Switch, there’s a great chance that this will be the best-selling Metroid game ever.
Why you should buy it? To show Nintendo we care, to show them we love the Metroid franchise, and we want more games like Metroid Dread. The more success these games get, the more money Nintendo will put into its development, and the more polished they will be. Maybe one day, MercurySteam will give us a masterpiece like Super Metroid - and I know many people already think Metroid Dread is better than Super Metroid… but come on…
It’s super easy to hack your Nintendo Switch or simply download Metroid Dread and play it on an emulator, but DON’T DO IT. Pirating games will only lead to fewer sales and therefore fewer chances of us getting more games like this. If you think about it, U$60 for a game that can give you hours of fun, is not a lot of money. That’s ordering Uber Eats 3 times, so next time you feel lazy, save yourself some money and don’t order food and cook some healthy meal instead - and then buy Metroid Dread 😊