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Metroid Dread: A Study on Perfection

A 9 minute read.

Cadey is enby
<Cadey> I'm gonna try to avoid spoilers in this article, however I realize that some people may consider something a spoiler that other people will not. For the things I'm not sure about, I'm gonna put them in little drop-down things that look like this:

Spoliers here, click to expand
These are some words that I'm just making up to fill space so you can see what the <details> tag looks like.

TL;DR though: 10/10 must-play Switch game. All the screenshots in this article were taken from the beginning of the game (Artaria and Cataris)

This blog is normally about technology, so of course you'd expect me to start writing about video games that I enjoy. This game hit me a bit different. Metroid Dread is a name that has been up there with Half-Life 3 and Starcraft Ghost in the genre of mythical games that have been rumored about for years but we've heard next to no updates about in a long time. I had given up on the idea of seeing it happen. I thought that the Metroid series was dead.

The title screen

Metroid games have always been commercial flops as far as the numbers go. The games have never really been advertised that well and usually show up on consoles at the end of their lifespans. However at the same time, those games end up defining a standard for gamefeel and adventure platforming that have made a resounding impact on the industry as a whole. Metroid is half of the reason why the genre is called Metroidvania, and a lot of it has to do with how it carefully guides the player through the game. Metroid Dread is a masters level class in how to show the player how to do things without explicitly telling them how to do them.

This game is dripping with color, detail and brilliance in every room. Samus is fluid and deadlier than ever. Movement flows from one jump into the next. The game targets 60 FPS and it consistently hits it at nearly all times. The enemies will hit you and it will be your fault for not getting out of the way.

Cadey is coffee
<Cadey> The following is technically a spoiler, however it's probably better that you have this information if you get stuck at the entrance to Cataris. Hopefully you won't get stuck there for 2 hours.

Cataris entrance assistance

Throughout my 16 hour playthrough, I only ran into one part that you could really consider "bad". After I got to the entrance to Cataris, I got stuck and had to run around the small slice of the world I could access for a long time until I realized you just had to shoot to the left of the elevator. They really should have made at least one of those blocks obviously breakable.

Before breaking blocks

After breaking blocks

There is a subtle camera movement to telegraph it, but I feel that it's not obvious enough. That may have been the point though.

The EMMI are legitimately scary enemies to "fight". They will hunt you down. Each EMMI has its own gimmick related to the power you get.

Cadey is enby
<Cadey> "fight" may be the wrong word here, it's less of a fight and more of a "run away and hide" simulator, however yeah I guess technically it's a fight because you do have a 10 frame window or whatever to escape from the EMMI's grasp. It feels awesome when you land that hit.

You are faced with overwhelming power, accept your helplessness.

EMMI related spoilers

Morph ball is usually one of the first powerups you get in a Metroid game. Morph ball is a mid-game item in Dread and you have to kill an EMMI to get it. All the time the game will taunt you with all these neat powerups and places you could go if you just had morph ball. It's effective. It made me remember about them.

The speed booster EMMI comes at you at a speed of a bajillionty miles per hour and its stun window is probably frame-perfect. I'm not sure. It's really tight though. You barely have time to react.

The EMMI are defeated by grabbing a powerup from a "Central Unit", and the miniboss battles with the "Central Units" scream Mother Brain. Was Mother Brain a "Central Unit" that went rogue? What on earth were the Chozo doing?

It feels so satisfying to land the final hit on an EMMI with the Omega Blaster. Sometimes you can land a hit mid-air, which looks swag as all hell.

The music in EMMI zones calls back to the creepy sounds of Metroid 2. Not the remake, classic Gameboy Metroid 2. The ambient music from the overworld stops. There are no enemies in the EMMI zone, only automated patrol robots. One false move and the patrol robots snitch on you to the EMMI.

I could go on for a while. It's done really well.

The lava tube in Artaria

Boss spoilers

The boss battles are amazingly done. The Chozo Soilder boss gets reused a bit much, however it ends up teaching you how to do boss fights damageless. I'm sure that most if not all of the bosses end up having cheese strats (you can oneshot flappy bird by shinesparking directly into his face).

Kraid was such a throwback fight. I don't really know how to go into more details.

There were underwater fights and finally a battle in the sky. Everything was done so perfectly.

I have been waiting to play this game since it was rumored in 2005. It became a meme in the Metroid community for a mythical game like Half Life 3 or Duke Nukem forever. People had given up hope. There were worries that Dread would end up like Duke Nukem Forever: a hollow shell of its concept that would never really live up to the hype. I thought the day that this game would come out would never happen. Once I saw the words "Metroid 5" on the screen in E3 though, I instantly preordered it. I didn't need to be convinced. Dread was real.

My Switch home screen

It is now in my hands. I have played it. I loved almost every moment of it (save the mishap in Cataris). I can't wait to see how speedruns develop for it. I bet that speedrunners are going to crack this as wide open as Super Metroid has been. There's already been some sequence breaking and boss cheeses found.

If you are on the fence with this game, go for it. It is one of the best games I've played in years. I have heard that it works perfectly in certain programs that let you play Switch games on PC. But really, buy this game if you can afford to. It is easily worth the money. I can't wait to see what's next from MercurySteam.


This article was posted on M10 10 2021. Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.

Series: reviews

Tags: metroid

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The art for Mara was drawn by Selicre.

The art for Cadey was drawn by ArtZora Studios.