If you want to know why Metroid is so special for years, consider the opening moment of Super Metroid. After barely escaping the exploding space station, Samus Aran descends to Zebes to investigate the ruins of the pirate base destroyed in the first game. This is a perfect example of Super Metroid’s minimalist storytelling, silently expressing the tense anxiety of exploring the ruins of Mother Brain’s old Turian base in the rain and thunder.
Such moments find Metroid at its best and effectively convey the fear and mystery of moving the series forward. Metroid Dread does its best to capture that emotion with its own opening. Samus descends towards an unknown planet and investigates the mystery below.
It’s the opening moment that makes me most hope that the Metroid Dread will deserve its famous name. Metroid dreads don’t accurately represent the production value of AAA, but the first few scenes are beautiful in their own way and stimulate the tense curiosity peculiar to the series. A wordless duel helps establish a mood as Samus begins to delve into the mysteries of the planet ZDR, which is swarming with aliens, robots, and perhaps Metroid (what is a Metroid game without Metroid after all). increase.
Metroid Dread: Final Preview Gallery
The end of the journey
Billed as the conclusion of Metroid Story Arc, Metroid Dread is the first new 2D Metroid Adventure since Metroid Fusion in 2002. Since then, other games have been released, but they’re all remade like Metroid: Zero Mission. It was a first-person adventure like Metroid Prime. Metroid Dread is a special opportunity for series fans, as series producer Yoshio Sakamoto has been trying to make this game for 15 years.
Metroid Dread follows in the footsteps of Metroid: Samus Returns, a remake of the Game Boy Metroid 2 released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2017. : Road of Shadow. As you can imagine, this is a visually clear step up from the 3DS, and the color palette shines, despite the otherwise simple presentation.
Backed by the improved screen of Switch OLED, it is a great help to realize a spare environment for Metroid Dread. Launched on the same day as Switch OLED, Metroid Dread is treated as a showcase game for Nintendo’s new console. And honestly? It looks great. The more vibrant colors of Switch OLED really help you get out of the screen.
The map is huge again, full of corners and crevices infested with numerous aliens to explore. In addition to that sense of range, Samus is now the way to occupy a much smaller screen area, making the cave and corridor feel vast compared to each other. I’ve used Metroid Dread many times and looked back, but I was a little panicked about the lack of morph balls (Samus, as always, has lost the power to start the game). In particular, maps look more complex than they used to be, making it much harder to “go to places you haven’t explored yet.” Traversal definitely needs some thought in this game, which I am grateful for.
This kind of exploration is a big part of the Metroid experience, and Metroid Dread has a lot of it. Where it separates from the rest of the series, it focuses on combat. A typical Metroid Dread moment occurs in the first few minutes of the game. The damaged EMMI (one of the robots that relentlessly hunts Samus) trembles, moving and chasing the terminator’s slow but relentless gait. When Samus fires at the Omega Cannon, the camera shifts to an over-the-shoulder view. For better or for worse, Metroid Dread is full of such “movie-like” moments. It is designed to interrupt action in a way similar to a larger budget action game like the god of war.
An impact on this approach is that EMMI’s rooms are scattered around the map and act as bottlenecks hunted by droids that Samus only wants to harvest DNA. These rooms are actually my most disliked part of Metroid Dread, even though they form the core of Sakamoto’s original vision for the game. They are trying to expand the famous encounter from Metroid Fusion where Samus is hunted by the dreaded Doppelganger called SA-X. But if those encounters are so scary that they appear out of nowhere, the image of SA-X slowly moving through the tunnel and the Samus hunter in the vent below burned into my memory shows the EMMI encounter. It feels more noble. Probably because they are artificially restricted to a particular room.
On the contrary, the encounter with EMMI takes full advantage of the various traversal mechanisms of Metroid Dread. It’s the fastest and most fun you’ve ever experienced in a Metroid game. Samus can bounce, slide, and air dash around enemies, and it’s a cool sight to pinball the ball while EMMI is chasing. In particular, the Metroid dread mechanism is already drawing attention from speed runners. This is a tradition of the series dating back to the Super Metroid era. In that respect, at least, the Metroid Dread is very much in the veins of its predecessor.
The special atmosphere of Metroid
My hope is that this is just the beginning and that Metroid Dread will find an increasingly creative way to take advantage of robotic enemies while devoting themselves to its superior movement mechanics. We also hope that Metroid Dread will not suffer from exactly the same bloating as Samus Returns. Samus Returns slightly outperformed the welcome by dramatically expanding the number of Metroids and the range of the map. Best of all, I would like to see what Sakamoto and Mercury Steam can do when they are not bound by an established structure like Samus Returns.
Ultimately, it’s up to Metroid Dread to conclude one of the most beloved stories in the history of the game as the Grand Finale of Metroid Ark. This is a difficult order, and Metroid’s storytelling track record is clearly mixed over the last decade (Metroid fans definitely prefer to forget about Metroid: the other M). But it’s hard not to be fascinated by the early moments of Metroid Dread. It effectively establishes a mystery at the heart of the story. They are great reminders of the atmosphere that has made Metroid special.
Metroid Dread will be available on October 8th. Check out the Switch OLED article released on the same day and seven things you (probably) didn’t know about Metroid.
Kat Bailey is IGN’s Senior News Editor.