We have tried ‘Metroid Dread’ and it has everything to become the best Metroid in decades: this is the new Samus
We already know what you are thinking: it is not difficult to be the best ‘Metroid’ in decades, considering that ‘Metroid Prime: Federation Force’ was a disaster with nothing to do with the franchise, than ‘Metroid: Another M’ (¡ You have to go back to 2010!) is an irregular title and far from what should be a ‘Metroid’ with all the honors, and that ‘Metroid: Samus Returns’, even though it is a very competent game, is a remake of’ Metroid II ‘from 1991. That is, You have to go to ‘Metroid Prime 3: Corruption’ from 2007 to find the last genuine great game of the saga.
Okay, it is not that we have a ‘Metroid’ every year to go around choosing which are the best, but you understand what we mean: after the Spanish Mercury Steam demonstrated with their ‘Samus Returns’ of 2017 that they perfectly understood the codes and resources Of the classic incarnations of the franchise, ‘Dread’ is presented as nothing short of an event. It takes back the 2D workings that made the series great, updates what it should and, finally after so many years, it gives us back the taste of a genuine ‘Metroid’.
The new taste of the old
We have had the opportunity to play this new ‘Metroid Dread’ for just over an hour, and test many of its proposals. In many aspects feels like an extension of what Mercury Steam had already rehearsed on ‘Samus Returns’. Some of the features presented for the first time there come back here again, starting with the possibility of precisely aiming at the point you want with the help of the sticks. It will be essential to solve a puzzle or open secret areas.
It is not the only capacity presented in that portable game that returns. Again there will be clues that indicate hidden areas, and weapons that serve both to solve puzzles and open areas and to face enemies more effectively. And of course they are the counterattacks, invented for that adventure and which here again are essential to develop strategies Against the Most Powerful Enemies: A block that stuns opponents for a few seconds, protecting themselves from otherwise insurmountable attacks.
We have not been able to taste many of the new powers announced in this first hour of play: the missiles that aim at several simultaneous targets, the possibility of climbing walls or, of course, the very classic Morphing Ball that allows Samus to slide through narrow corridors. Actually, it’s a good sign. Unlike what was being usual in the last games of the series, where Samus unlocks new features in a short time, here the new weapons and abilities of the heroine will be opened more gradually.
And that is good sign because it points to a less friendly exploration than in the last titles of the series. One of the characteristics of the classic ‘Metroid’ and the metroidvania genre they helped found is that you have to go back and forth across the map countless times, memorizing, groping and testing new areas. In that sense, we will see many closed areas that we can clearly only go through later with new powers: ‘Metroid Dread’ does not seem willing for this tour to be a walk, as it has been happening with some of the most recent 2D incarnations of the franchise.
Some of that is pointed out to us on the map that we have seen in ‘Dread’ and that, again, has a lot in common with the one in ‘Samus Returns’. Among other features, we have a color code that divides the immense planet into places of different characteristics that must be thoroughly explored, clearly indicates the areas yet to be discovered and gives the possibility of marking points that we want to investigate later. All this makes it clear, in the absence of a complete analysis of the game, that although we will not be given everything done, it will also not be an absolutely hardcore experience where we will be missing every two by three. ‘Dread’ clearly seeks the balance between challenging our patience and guidance, and helping us make the game, ultimately, fun and fast-paced.
Those damn EMMI
Without a doubt, the most talked about of this installment are going to be these versatile and lethal robots that will relentlessly pursue Samus as soon as they discover her. The only chance against them is to flee, which In the labyrinthine terms of ‘Metroid’ it means memorizing zones, solving puzzles against the clock and think fast to get away from them. Enemies that have been very cleverly designed by Mercury Steam to pose a total threat, but still give the possibility of always outsmarting them (as they become more ruthless, Samus will gain cloaking abilities).
This relentlessness returns us to the elements of tension and suspense, almost with drops of survival horror, which occurred in other games in the series. Indeed, Atmosphere has always been crucial in the best games of the series, rather than the annihilation of the Metroids en masse. And the moments of terror and unease that EMMIs provide, even if not exactly Dead Space, remind us that Samus is in an overwhelming minority of forces on a terribly hostile planet.
The rest of the atmosphere is achieved with an argument that plays first to bewilderment, but that reveals details of the history of Samus that go way back in time. The continuists of the lore of ‘Metroid’ they may be satisfied (another detail that will have to be corroborated with the full version), but certainly more than with games like ‘Another M’ or ‘Federation Force’.
Samus is back
All this is part of a package that for the moment looks great. It can be blamed –as always in this type of game that recovers mechanics of yesteryear – that does not innovate enough, which is almost a step back in that regard. But on the one hand, we have a ‘Metroid Prime 4’ announced. Second, it gives the impression that Mercury Steam is going step by step, and this is a step beyond ‘Samus Returns’, but that there are still rungs to climb.
A Super polished gameplay and perfectly adapted to the technical and visual possibilities of Switch, a great visual section that shines in tricks such as the chromatic division of the levels according to the type of which they are and a Samus that we feel ours but at the same time we perceive as new. ‘Dread’ may be the ultimate revitalization we’ve been hoping for for one of the most influential historical franchises in the business.