REVIEW: Metroid Dread

Friday, October 29th, 2021

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Any Metroid worth its salt needs massive and horrifying bosses, and Dread doesn’t disappoint. Though I don’t necessarily count the EMMI as boss battles, they’ll still test your skills to the max. You’ll also face some familiar faces from past games, though I’ll avoid spoiling those for people that haven’t played the game yet. All I can say is each and every boss will make you sweat, and that includes a handful of tough mini bosses as well. And without any spoilers, I will say the final boss in the game is one of the most challenging I’ve faced in Metroid history.

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Visually, Metroid Dread is stunning and a great example of what the Switch is capable of. You’ll never be visually bored as you explore, as each section of ZDR is totally different, from volcanic labs to teeming jungles and aquatic facilities. Besides just running around, you’ll also find Teleportals, elevators and trains to ferry you about. I appreciated the cutscenes that play during these, even though they do run a little long. And if I wasn’t clear before, the design for all the aliens, robots and other horrors in the game is on point. There’s a lot of great ideas here, and it all effortlessly builds on the rich foundation of the series.

Musically, the game is great, though I feel the soundtrack isn’t the best of the series. There’s good tunes aplenty, but not many that stuck with me for days afterwards. That said, the one thing that will haunt me for months to come is the sound effect of the EMMI radar pinging as they search for you. Altogether, the music and artwork combine to make a really captivating experience.

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There’s an awful lot I enjoyed as I played the game, but I’d be lying if I said it was perfect. There’s a handful of small issues that kept it from being the best Metroid game I’ve experienced. One is that Dread often lacks proper signposting. I know you’re supposed to find your way in the series, but this one really made it unclear how to proceed at several points in the adventure. One notable moment takes place after a section of ZDR freezes over, locking you out of several doors and making some areas unable to be accessed. You’re supposed to get to an engine to heat things up, but I couldn’t figure out how to get past the section I was stuck in. And when I finally figured that out, I was frustrated by the opaque nature of the situation.

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Another issue is that sometimes it’s not clear when you can and cannot counter attacks. There’s several attacks in the game that cannot be countered, and often they look identical to the ones that can. This issue made the final boss fight incredibly difficult until I finally realized one attack could be countered, which made my life much easier. There was also a particular robot mini-boss that I didn’t realize could take damage at any point. I thought you had to counter it first to lower their shields, and only then unleash your missiles. This error in judgment made me have to fight the mini-boss more than a dozen times before I finally realized what to do. Other than these, however, I felt most of Metroid Dread was quite well crafted.

Metroid Dread | Final Elevator

I was really debating how I would score Metroid Dread. After all, it did live up to many of my hopes and expectations, which is hard to do after a wait this pronounced. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling that Super Metroid did many things just a bit better. As such, I can’t help but score this a little lower than I wanted to. That said, if you’re a fan of the Metroid series, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here for only $59.99. Not only is it challenging and story-driven, but there’s plenty of incentives to replay the game in the form of various galleries. While there’s some frustrating design issues that could have been avoided, this is still a must play game for fans of the series, or just those that own a Nintendo Switch. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another 20 years for the next epic tale of Samus Aran.

Review Score

Review Copy Purchased By Author

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.

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