The game that put the “metroid” in “metroidvania” continues! In Metroid Dread, Samus finds herself traveling to the mysterious planet “ZDR”, seeking out the incredibly dangerous X Parasite that nearly killed her in Metroid Fusion. After a run-in with a mysterious and formidable opponent afflicts her with “physical amnesia”, it’s up to Samus to survive the planet, and its 7 robotic defenders (E.M.M.I) so that she can return to her ship, while unlocking the mysteries of who invited her to ZDR in the first place…and for what purpose.
Admittedly I’ve only put a few hours into the game so far, but what I can share of the experience is that it’s (largely) been a fantastic reminder of what made us all fall in love with the genre to begin with.
The world of Planet ZDR is vast, and rather than a room-by-room approach when it comes to completion, it leans instead towards a more Symphony of the Night style of % completion and the encouragement to seek out, literally, every nook and cranny for the sake of completionism.
There are certainly some gorgeous backdrops within Metroid Dread – and a number of the cutscenes are very cinematic and strategic in the use of these elements in helping make the world feel larger and more engrossing. However, areas of the world begin to “rhyme” a bit, which does blunt the unique regions aspect that Metroid titles are often pretty good at preserving.
Narratively, there’s a lot going on in Metroid Dread. Lore junkies will have a field day with the revelations that await within, and while I haven’t reached the end just yet I’ve got it on good authority that it will drastically affect the way players approach the story in the looming Metroid Prime 4 game and beyond.
My biggest gripe with the game so far is the gameplay. Yes, you have your standard running, jumping, firing, charge-shot, missile switcher etc…but there’s also a targeting laser, a melee counter, dodge mechanics and boss battles laden with quick-time events. At times it feels like I’m precariously holding 5 jenga pieces at once just to take out a killer robot – and this is with a Pro Controller. I wonder how effectively someone would be able to execute the complex mechanics on the handheld unit.
Despite the carpal-tunnel inducing gameplay at times, I will say the EMMI sequences are a delight, and help the title live up to its name. The telltale chirping of the EMMI robots will soon be filling your nightmares, as their uncanny movements and dogged pursuit of you will no doubt leave your heart racing.
Overall, it’s been a thrilling romp with Samus over the last few hours, and I’m looking forward to following this story through to its completion – I’ll just have to apologize to my cramped hands later.