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Metroid Dread Review – Astro Dreadnought

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Much of the Metroid series is defined by its haunting atmosphere and ominous tone. Inspired by the Alien movie franchise and the works of H.R. Giger, Metroid has always been steps away from the horror genre. Metroid Dread brings the series even closer. The moment Samus sets foot on the planet ZDR, she becomes prey. Every deadly creature – and machine – in the world is hungry for Samus’ blood, and it’s trapped miles below the planet’s surface, far from her ship. And, the only way out is through the barrel of his arm cannon. While Samus’ latest adventure delivers the classic exploration-based platform / action we’ve come to expect, I’ve never shaken the overall anxiety that gives this adventure its name … and I loved it. every minute.

Metroid helped spur the idea of ​​exploring large non-linear spaces, so the world of ZDR and its disparate areas are essential to Metroid Dread. The peaceful underground waterfalls of Artaria contrast sharply with the deadly lava flows of Cataria. Meanwhile, the Burenia is home to a huge underground ocean teeming with carnivorous marine life. These environments feel alive; rainwater flows down the sides of an alien tram system, fresh air drifts from the sides of frozen platforms, and alien insects gather around light sources to disperse into the shadows when Samus turns approach.

Exploring these alien places is continually rewarding with essential upgrades scattered across planet ZDR like a trail of breadcrumbs. The handful of new abilities are incredibly empowering. I especially liked Samus’ new storm missiles, which allow him to lock onto multiple targets before setting off a volley of explosives. Unfortunately, most Dread upgrades are old watches that MercurySteam seemed compelled to include. Granted, Metroid wouldn’t feel the same without the morph ball, which allows Samus to squeeze through narrow vents, but finding this upgrade several hours in a new Metroid game isn’t exciting. I wish Samus had started with more of his traditional abilities, leaving room for more flashy upgrades. As it stands, Metroid Dread feels like it’s retreading old terrain every now and then, but that’s a small disappointment in an otherwise great experience.

Fortunately, Dread is doing a few things to shake up the old formula, and one of the more significant new additions comes in the form of a new type of enemy called E.M.M.I. These extraplanetary multifaceted mobile identifiers are powerful robots equipped with an arsenal of gadgets that could make a spaceship blush. The E.M.M.I. are so hardy that Samus cannot beat them in a fair fight; she must escape or hide, using a new camouflage device that grants temporary invisibility. These tense cat and mouse encounters made me sweat, and every time I encountered an E.M.M.I., I felt my stomach tighten as I ran frantically to safety.

At specific points in the story, Samus temporarily upgrades his arm cannon, allowing you to turn the tables on the E.M.M.I. Even fully armed, these encounters require careful timing and quick footwork, as one wrong move can leave you staring at a Game Over screen. Of course, overcoming these challenges is a rewarding triumph. Likewise, the other Dread boss encounters offer a tall order. For example, the giant green three-eyed reptile Kraid returns. This battle takes place in a confined space, and dodging the spikes of his stomach and then leaping to the sides of the wall to shoot him in the face was incredibly heartbreaking. Fortunately, each boss has a recognizable pattern, so these battles seem fair. Overcoming every mountain of combat left me in a thrilling euphoric state.

Metroid Dread begins with Samus stranded deep within Planet ZDR’s vast underground network. It’s a reversal of the traditional openness that often brings Samus down to the heart of darkness, implying that MercurySteam (the developers of the 3DS Metroid: Samus Returns) is ready to revamp the Metroid formula. Don’t be fooled; Metroid Dread follows the familiar Nintendo model for better or for worse, but mostly for better. This trip is not scary in the traditional sense. I never jumped out of my seat after taking a turn and coming face to face with an alien monstrosity. Nonetheless, Dread’s atmosphere is powerful, and his massive boss encounters are enough to secure him his title. Despite a few hiccups in this time-worn model, Metroid Dread is a thrill ride you shouldn’t be afraid of.


For more Metroid-like games, read our list of the 10 best Metroidvanias to play right now.

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