We have had to wait a whopping 19 years to be able to enjoy a completely new Metroid 2D that continues the story of Samus Aran after the events of Fusion, but if there is something that has become clear to us after having passed Metroid Dread several times and having discovered Every last one of his secrets is that the return of our favourite space bounty hunter couldn’t have been sweeter. Not surprisingly, we are talking about an adventure that has managed to live up to a series that has always been characterized by its excellence and that once again has reminded us why it gives its name to a whole subgenre.
So, we will embark on a new mission that will take us to a mysterious planet known as ZDR. It seems that the X, the very dangerous parasite that we supposedly exterminated in Metroid Fusion, is roaming freely. However, what begins as a simple reconnaissance mission to confirm the presence of this threat will soon turn into an absolute nightmare for our heroine after encountering a powerful Chozo that strips her of almost all her abilities and that, for some motive, let it live.
As you can guess, from here on, we will have to explore a gigantic and labyrinthine map to rearm ourselves and discover the truth about what is happening, a premise that gives rise to a simple story in which the origins of Samus are explored and where the name of the series takes on a new meaning. Anyway, the script only makes an appearance in a few moments, and although there is some ambient narrative, the plot has a relatively secondary role that never obstructs the rhythm of the action.
The best-prepared bounty hunter in the galaxy
Focusing on its gameplay, we are facing a new action-adventure and 2D platforms in which we will have to go through a vast stage with all its interconnected areas. Of course, as we advance, we will obtain new skills that will allow us to access new places, open additional routes and unlock shortcuts, not to mention how useful many of them will be to face the enemies that come our way or find secrets in the form of missile expansions and life tanks with which to increase our maximum health.
We want to highlight how incredibly well Samus controls and moves this time if we’re going to highlight. By this, we are not referring only to the millimetre precision with which the controls respond, but also to the enormous agility that the bounty hunter has gained when moving and fighting, something that is especially noticeable in details such as the fact of being able to slide through the ground while running or make melee attacks while moving without losing momentum.
In this way, both the exploration and the confrontations have gained a lot of fluidity and dynamism, reaching a point of satisfaction so high and rewarding that it ends up making the simple act of moving the character result in a tremendously fun experience by itself.
Speaking of skills, it is worth noting the return of the counterattack, a maneuver that has gained in importance, as well as the free aiming in any direction, something that this time we can do on the move and that also contributes to making this the most agile delivery of all. Of course, you will not miss classics such as the morphosphere or the charged ray, a repertoire we must add new gadgets, techniques and the most valuable enhancers.
Luckily, all this good work in the purely playable is also accompanied by an excellent level design that allows us to experience various situations while successfully connecting its different regions to make navigating the map the most comfortable and fluid as possible. You can expect very diverse environments with their environmental characteristics, traps and enemies, and rooms with unique and exceptionally handcrafted designs that are never repeated.
However, best of all, the scenarios themselves evolve as we progress through them and things happen in the story. We cannot talk too much about this without falling into spoilers. Still, you can be sure that you will not be short of surprises when returning to areas already visited, something that helps always to keep our interest awake and prevents us from relaxing, especially after one of the most imaginative playable and plot twists we’ve ever seen in a title of this style occurs.
Of course, we warn you that the development of the adventure is more guided than it might seem at first. It does not reach the levels of linearity of Fusion, but its design is committed to placing the rooms through which we have to advance right next to the place where we get the corresponding ability. In this way, the scenarios guide us subtly and elegantly towards our next goal, preventing us from getting lost too much, something for which some very convenient blocks are also often used. There is always the possibility of going back and exploring on our own to get hold of those secrets that were previously inaccessible, so we will not lack the freedom to set our own pace.
Since we have mentioned obtaining and searching for secrets, we have to admit that we have been surprised for good by how their developers have decided to hide many of them. As we said before, most of them consist of life tanks and missile expansions, improvements that will considerably increase our chances of surviving in this hostile environment, but getting them will not be as easy as finding the hidden block on duty, using the necessary skill. And pick up the enhancer in question.
Yes, this will be enough in many cases. Still, others will pose tremendously twisted puzzles that require chaining many actions with head and precision while taking advantage of the environment. We will almost always know where the objects we are looking for are, but finding a way to reach them will test our gray matter and our command skills, a challenge that has been enormously fun, satisfying and stimulating. We know that this is not something new in the series, but here it has been taken so to the extreme that we could not avoid highlighting it because of how much it has made us enjoy completing the adventure 100%.
As you can see, so far, what we have is another great Metroid with a classic flavour that offers us an adventure with much more agile and polished gameplay and a fantastic scenario design that favours the rhythm of the action and the variety of situations. However, this does not mean that there is no major news.
As its name suggests, Dread is a delivery that wants to terrorize and make us uncomfortable with the presence of the EMMI, robots that will hunt us relentlessly and against which our weapons are entirely useless, not to mention their ability to finish with us instantly if we get caught. Thus, we will only have one option when we enter the areas they patrol: flee and try to go unnoticed so that they do not detect us, something that is easier said than done, since they can capture our footsteps, chase us along with different rooms and block exits if they hit us.
The good news is that they cannot leave their enclosures, limits indicated with doors that have a very particular and characteristic design, although if we want to advance in history, we will have no choice but to enter their territories numerous times, moments in which the game becomes a much more tense, frantic and overwhelming experience as we run everywhere looking for a way to escape and reach a safe area.
As a general rule, the sections with the EMMIs are relatively short, and it will not take us five minutes to overcome them. Still, the main path will force us to constantly enter and exit them to reach specific places on the map, thus causing us always to dread the moment to re-enter the domain of one of these mechanical devices.
If we are honest, what is said is fear; it is not that they give. Still, they do know how to manage to generate a lot of tension and that we forget even to breathe, something that also applies when facing them when we manage to find the right weapon necessary for this since we will have to charge our shot for a few seconds that are eternal and aim with great care while we see how they slowly and inexorably approach us.
In general terms, it is a novelty that we liked. That helps bring some exciting changes within the series, assuming a successful evolution of our confrontations with the SA-X in Fusion. In addition, they have managed to ensure that their presence is fair and never overshadows the classic exploration by which the series has been characterized, assuming a tiny percentage of the total hours that we will invest in reaching the credit titles.
Perhaps our biggest drawback with them is that they end up falling into a somewhat predictable structure and although the scenarios change and the EMMIs gain skills, in the end, we will always do the same without there being changes in their mechanics or objectives. There are abilities to bypass these creatures, such as turning invisible, that we’ve hardly ever had to use to slip them, so we think developers could have exploited them a bit more.
But if there is something that we especially liked about this installment, it is its bosses, probably the best of the entire 2D side of the series. We are talking about very intense, challenging, long battles, with a multitude of different and tremendously spectacular phases that will force us to learn the attack patterns of our rivals by heart to finish them off, leaving us some very memorable confrontations to remember.
In addition, the difficulty curve is brilliantly adjusted throughout the adventure, so you can expect a final stretch full of memorable battles in which you will have to demonstrate your skills as a bounty hunter while trying to figure out how to damage the creatures that get in your way.
Since we have mentioned its final stretch, to say that our first lap has taken us about six and a half hours, while to achieve 100%, we have needed 9, a duration that seems perfect and in line with the series, especially if we have in Note that there is a second unlockable difficulty level and that the real challenge lies in reaching the credit titles in a short and demanding time, something that will surely encourage you to replay it until you master it.
At the graphic level, it has also surprised us very positively, since we are talking about a game that boasts not only good modelling but also varied scenarios, full of details and in which a multitude of things happen in the background to create that atmosphere so unique, lonely, oppressive and characteristic of the series. And if that wasn’t enough, Samus has outstanding animations for just about everything, which makes watching her interact with her surroundings and enemies a real treat. Of course, we cannot finish talking about its technical section without commenting on how sharp it looks on a laptop and a desktop, with a clean and clear image. We must also add an exemplary performance of 60 images per second.
Finally, the sound leaves us with a fantastic soundtrack that focuses, above all, on evoking terror and mystery, but also knows how to be epic when it should and does not forget to recover some of the most iconic themes of the series new and great remixes.
Metroid Dread is that Metroid 5 that we have been dreaming of for so many years, a fantastic action-adventure, platforms and 2D exploration that has lived up to the legend of its series. Among its great successes, we find exquisite controls, polished gameplay to its last consequences, intense and spectacular bosses, a well-balanced difficulty, good puzzles to get secrets and a meticulous level design, not to mention an audiovisual section absorbent and capable of giving us tremendously spectacular sequences.
Perhaps the sections with the EMMIs have been a bit wasted, and a different approach could have solved the repetition of several mini-bosses in another way, but if you are a fan of Samus Aran or simply passionate about this subgenre to which the series gives its name, here you will find an essential purchase. Ready for your next mission?
We prepared this review on a Nintendo Switch OLED with a digital review code for the title provided by Nintendo.