After 2017's Metroid: Samus Returns, Mercury Steam are back at it again with Metroid Dread. The fifth and final entry in the 2D series sees our favourite bounty hunter taking on a brand new threat where the mysteriously sentient E.M.M.I robots turn Samus into the hunted. Stranded and isolated after responding to a transmission on Planet ZDR, Samus will learn the answers to her strange metroid mutations whilst fending for her life once again.
This is arguably the best Samus has ever moved in a 2D space. Much like previous 2D Metroid entries, Samus becomes increasingly versatile as you acquire more upgrades. Couple this with the melee counter established in Metroid: Samus Returns and Mercury Steam certainly know and acknowledge the importance of Samus's movement. With the power of modern hardware, it accentuates this feeling exponentially, bringing the Metroid series well into the second decade of the 21st century.
Despite Metroid Dread being strictly a 2D platformer/metroidvania, the depth to the environments is something to marvel at. In key areas, there is usually something to stop and look at in the background and the camera will occassionally pan to show off intricacies in the environments from different perspectives during transitions and cutscenes. This becomes most notable when the player obtains the Pulse Radar which pulses light to uncover hidden blocks; upon doing this, the pulsing light seeps throughout the intricacies of the background, proving that the developers focussed on the backgrounds with such wonderfully meticulous detail.
Story-wise, Metroid Dread is a wonderful conclusion to a 35 year old series. The latest entry calls back to its predecessors marvellously, providing context from games as early as the original from 1986. Much of this is done either through dynamic cutscenes (which gives Samus the rightful silent bad*ss demeanour we've grown to love) or interactions with Adam during well spaced out save rooms. There are also quite a few surprises for good measure but no spoilers here!
- Incredible movement
- Detailed backgrounds
- A wonderful conclusion
While the newly introduced E.M.M.I robots act well as a new hook, in execution, they are nothing but hair-pulling nusances. Each area has its own E.M.M.I section where you must proceed stealthily or run the risk of being hunted down. If caught, you have two small windows to counter but this always felt more like luck rather than timing. The E.M.M.Is' range of detection is ludicrously large and most movements will draw them to your location (unless you hide with the Phantom Cloak which can only be used for a limited amount of time until it starts to deplete your health). In order to defeat them, you'll need to activate the Omega Cannon which then requires you to rapidly shoot at the E.M.M.I's face plate until it explodes and then charge up a final attack. To play devil's advocate, these segments certainly help to break up the pace and boulster that sense of progression - and finally getting to blast the things in their stupid metal faces is oddly therapeutic!
- Tedious E.M.M.I segments
- Pacing issues
Final Score: 8/10
After all was said and done, it's easy to conclude that Metroid Dread is a wonderful conclusion to the 2D saga of the series. While its obligatory E.M.M.I segments are frustrating to the point of dread (no pun intended), the game transcends in its ability to bring the series into the modern era (and back to home consoles, no less). The melee counter is perfected in Dread and it's easy to see just how much love Mercury Steam has for the franchise. This may be a conclusion to a five part saga, but here's hoping the Spanish developers continue with the franchise for many years to come!
Thank you for checking out our Metroid Dread switch review, thank you to Nintendo AU/NZ for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: