It’s been a long time coming, but I have filled this last year or two with many, many Metroidvania games in preparation. Even though I didn’t know it was coming. Of course I ordered it instantly.
And, it was really good. I didn’t expect otherwise, but people were very down on Metroid: Other M and I never really got into that myself either. It was lacking the Metroid lonely atmosphere, I think. Too many other people. Lots of chat. Not quite 2D. It was just a bit off in so many ways. But not here.
There’s a story which attempts to tie into the lore of previous games and references events in them, but ultimately it doesn’t matter as the outcome is the same as it ever was – Samus lands on a planet, some reason for her losing all her powers is concocted, and you then spend the rest of the game reacquiring them, which each opening up new areas of the map. It’s a good job they were all hidden in the exact order and locations they were otherwise you’d have no chance!
Samus is very quick, and has many different moves. These combine to form a slight issue in that the controls are a bit complicated, with often having to use the triggers as kind of shift modifiers, and this results in some moves and combos requiring use of the stick and three or even four buttons at the same time. My old brain can’t cope with that so often I’d be pressing the wrong things, thankfully rarely causing major problems or death. Still frustrating, though!
While I’m mentioning problems with the game, I should mention how easy it was. Previous Metroid games have been (for me) really difficult, especially the bosses, but Dread was was very, very easy. Only the end boss caused me headaches and even then, after a few attempts, I’d managed to see the attacks coming and knew how to best deal with them, so beat him virtually unscathed – eventually.
The EMMI sections, where you had to run and hide from evil robots, were also a problem. They were not fun, and often it would be random if you managed to make it through their designated area as they seemed to spawn in different places. They were like an unwanted gear-change, and didn’t really fit into the game.
Thankfully, none of these negatives really stopped me really enjoying Metroid Dread. Samus slowly becoming an unstoppable beast is, like most games in the genre, the big draw, and the exploration and puzzles are both great. It’s not a perfect game, but it is a fantastic one.