19 years after the last 2D platforming Metroid game, Metroid Dread has finally made it onto Nintendo Switch!
Before Dread I will admit that I wasn’t a Metroid superfan by any means; I knew of the games but never played them — and if I’m completely honest, I only knew of Samus because of Smash Bros.
I remember watching the Nintendo Direct when the game was first shown; everyone was anticipating some new information about Metroid Prime 4, since things had been quiet on that front for a while — and instead we got Metroid Dread. Again, I’ll admit, I wasn’t completely blown away on the reveal, but the gameplay looked fun — and good Lord, it is fun.
Gameplay: the most addictive loop
Metroid Dread opens by giving you a quick rundown of the events up until this point in the Metroid storyline. We learn about the Metroids themselves, the X-parasite, and how Samus came to be part Metroid herself. I’m the type of person to watch summary videos on YouTube when I know I’m getting into a series partway through, but this small expositional dump was quite appreciated.
After that, Metroid Dread rarely pulls you out from the driver’s seat, and it’s almost entirely gameplay from here on out. Due to the events at the very start of the game — and in true series tradition — Samus is left with access to only a few of her signature abilities when you take control, which turns out to be a convenient thing for us as players. Dread is absolutely loaded with stuff to add to Samus’ arsenal as you progress throughout the game, but having access to all of these from the get-go would be quite overwhelming.
One of the best things about Metroid Dread is the way it introduces you to these new abilities and weapons — it’s done at such a good pace that you never feel like you’re taking on too many things at once. Once you feel as though you’ve gotten used to a new ability and mastered it, the game will give you another toy to play around with.
This, in combination with the immensely fun combat, creates one of the most addictive gameplay loops — I technically didn’t turn off my Switch from the time I started the game to when I finished it. Every time you get a new ability, all sorts of doors suddenly swing open because you have the tool to open them now.
The bosses of Metroid Dread
Let’s talk bosses! First up are the EMMIs, which is the name for the patrolling robots that you will have seen from the trailers. These are enemies that you can’t actually fight unless you have your blaster charged up with unique energy. This adds something fresh to the game: you are suddenly presented with an enemy that all you can do is run from.
When you enter the patrol area of an EMMI you immediately know it, and the added intensity is such a nice change of atmosphere. To make it even better, if you’re caught by an EMMI you have two chances to parry and escape, but there is such a small chance of successfully parrying that when you do manage to pull it off it’s so hype!
Outside of the EMMI fights, there are also more conventional boss fights of the type that you would expect from a game in this style. Each boss fight will force you to make use of your newly acquired abilities and weapons in order to win. Each battle will also put your ability to dodge and parry to the test, and you will have to think on your feet and sometimes use the surroundings to your advantage. The Mawkin fights in particular will test your skills to the maximum!
The greatest thing about these boss fights, however, is the way in which Samus is portrayed. This game single-handedly convinced me that Samus Aran is the coolest and most badass character that Nintendo has to offer! The things Mercury Steam managed to pull off with a character that is, for the most part, a silent protagonist who is completely covered in armour, is downright amazing.
It’s just a ton of fun!
Metroid Dread is without a doubt one of the most fun games I have played this year, and I am so happy my degenerate-ass mained Zero-Suit Samus in Smash so that I became invested enough in the character to buy the game. This is how I became interested; I’m a very character-driven person who becomes very attached and then my love of said character will spread into the series from there.
I praised the gameplay loop to death already, but even just moving around the map is seamless, fast-paced, and with each pass, you find something new thanks to your newfound abilities. Ultimately the game just feels like a perfectly refined, classic Metroid game — and I cannot wait for more!
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