Metroid Dread Review (Switch)
EMMI, you may kill me 99% of the time, but eventually that 1% will be in my favor and I’ll parry you… before running like hell.
Available on: Switch
Genre: Action Adventure
I actually never played a Metroid game before. Sure I knew that the series existed, and the surprise reveal that came at the end of the first game, but I never picked one of the games up (which part of it is because my family wasn’t able to afford many games). The only thing I really knew were the alien bug enemies called Metroids (though certainly not the wide range of shapes they can take on) and that Samus Aran was a badass. Despite that, when Metroid Dread was announced I wanted to get it. It did look pretty cool and creepy at that. So with Metroid Dread as my first entry into the Metroid series, how did it turn out and is it a good first game?
In Metroid Dread, you play as Samus Aran and after getting some background info on what happened in previous games and what Metroids and X Parasites are (which was very helpful as someone that haven’t played other Metroid games, we learn that the Galatic Federation (which Samus is a part of) received a mysterious video transmission showing a X Parasite. With the video proven to be real, but the sender a complete mystery, Samus was sent to investigate the planet this video was taped at just in case, as they can’t take any chances. The planet Samus is being sent to is called ZDR and before you they did sent in 7 EMMI robots to investigate, but as you probably already know based on trailers, these EMMIs have turned hostile. Little does Samus know, or maybe she suspected considering what happened to her before, this turned out to be a much bigger and dangerous job than expected.
It also doesn’t help that Samus comes into contact with one of the only living beings on ZDR, Raven Beak, who was just about to overpower her with his own overpowered suit before something awoken in Samus, saving her but also giving her physical amnesia (which basically stripped her of all of her abilities).
So throughout Dread, while your main goal is finding out where the X Parasites are, who sent the video, and who attacked you (and maybe get revenge?), you’ll be traversing the various different locations of ZDR, killing any enemies before they kill you, and gathering your abilities back. It does take a while to get use to how the controls are mapped, and remember if you happen to take a couple days off, but you do get used to it. At the start, you really just start with the basics and it’s only by defeating bosses and EMMIs that you get more abilities that give you more attacks or make your current one stronger, while also give you more tools to getting into places that you previously couldn’t. Like being able to drop a bomb while in the morph ball, gaining the grapple hook, or gaining the ability to withstand high temperatures. While there were two or three times where I got stuck, which to be fair the first two times was because I was being too stubborn to move to the next area, it was really fun to traverse the various locations you get to. And it gets even more enjoyable as you get more abilities (it feels so good towards the end specifically).
The combat here turned out to be good and makes you feel so powerful. To help with killing the various enemies that you’ll encounter, you have the use of Samus’ arm cannon which can send out regular beam shots or missiles towards your enemy (which you can stand and aim or not) and a melee attack that she can do if you’re close up. The melee attack is especially important as all of the enemies will have an attack that you can parry, which is signaled by a flash of light, and this carries over to the bosses. Also, every enemy has their own attack patterns and which attack will be parry-able. Even when you get good at it, it still may make you feel powerful (which was true for me).
A new aspect that got introduced in Metroid Dread are the EMMIs. Each location has their own EMMI bot and they are just as creepy and scary past the initial introduction cutscene. These are particularly powerful bots that you can’t break with your normal gunpower and if they catch you, you only have 2 hard parry chances before they kill you. Luckily, EMMIs are only in their designated areas, which you will know when being faced with an EMMI door. As long as you’re careful enough, you can more or less avoid detection or the EMMI themselves. EMMIs will constantly scan their area and if you get pinged, they’ll follow it; but if they see you, they will start pursuing you and you won’t be able to get out of the EMMI area unless you lose it. As you get more abilities, you do get areas that you can hide, which is also important as the EMMIs get more powerful and hard to deal with. If you don’t like stealthing, I wouldn’t worry about it to be honest. I barely stealthed around the EMMI areas and when I did, it was in the one submerged with water when I didn’t have the gravity suit and for the one that is fast. Either way, you are put right before you entered the EMMI area if you get killed anyway (par from one specific sequence). Though, that didn’t stop me from panicking every time an EMMI saw and chased me.
The only way to get these EMMIs off your back is to find Central Units, getting the Omega Blaster temporarily, and using it to make the EMMIs vulnerable and have a powerful enough blast to kill it before absorbing whatever ability it holds. These sections were great in a “I’m deathly scared, but I’m ready to defeat them” way. You essentially have to avoid the EMMI from grabbing you, while giving you enough distance to first heat up their faceplate and then to charge the blaster. And you have to also take into account their habit of taking the quickest route, which you may have to purposefully lure it to where it has to take the long way (or the quickest way becomes the long way, if that makes sense). And if you felt powerful parrying the EMMIs before, parrying them here is even more so (especially if you parry the fast one twice in a row).
And the bosses, I’d say, are really good and well designed. Granted, this is my first Metroid game so I have no idea how previous bosses were, but I really liked these bosses. They were fun to fight against and finding out their different attacks and how to dodge them. They were a good source of difficulty and it felt good finally defeating them. The only bosses I really had a lot of trouble with was the second to last boss and the last boss (which is understandable).
While these aren’t necessary to pick up, and I myself mainly picked up the ones along the way, there are missile (either +2 or +10) and health upgrades (either an automatic added health bar or needing to find 4 parts) that you can find hidden all around the various maps. The map itself will flash in an area where there are still a pickup there, which can be helpful as the breakable blocks that lead there can be tricky to spot or know about. Though, a lot do require you to have a future ability to reach, so you may have to file it for later when you get it and have a chance. These do really help in staying alive longer and having enough missiles during bosses.
Metroid Dread turned out to be an excellent game and I’m glad I decided to pick it up. Since I never played a Metroid game before I didn’t know what I should expect or if I would like this entry, but I ended up quite liking it pretty quickly. I ended up liking how Samus fought, I loved her movement here, I really liked the bosses, and I loved how powerful it felt whenever I was able to land a parry and/or finally beat a boss. Not to mention the creepy atmosphere that may have taken up 90% of my reasoning for getting Metroid Dread.
I would also definitely recommend this to those new to the Metroid series, since I found this as a nice entry point to the series for me. The story is easy to follow and while there were aspects that I was totally lost on until I watched a lore video (which probably didn’t help that I forgot the beginning cutscene by the time I got to the final boss), you won’t have much trouble following what’s happening. And hey, even then there’s a demo that you can download and try before buying.