GAME REVIEW: Metroid Dread (2021) – Challenging, Nostalgic and Amazing

By: Micah Burkholder | Contributor

Photo credit: Perfectly Nintendo

Have you ever heard of the video game subgenre called Metroidvania? It is a subgenre of games that combine 2D platformers and role playing games (RPGs). This genre alone is excellent and paved the way for many successful games that are still talked about today. Metroidvania originated from two classic games: “Super Metroid (1994)” and “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997).” 

Metroid Dread” is the latest Metroid game, and it’s the fifth installment of the main Metroid timeline. It follows Samus Aran as she finds herself on the planet ZDR, where she investigates the source of a mysterious transmission. This time around, Samus fights twice as many hordes of enemies and collects lots of arsenal for her armor, just like she does in the other games. Unlike previous installments, “Dread” has boss battles that challenge you based on how far you’ve progressed in the game. The boss battles are harsh, challenging and might frustrate you if you don’t typically play these types of games. This new installment of the Metroid franchise takes everything that gamers know and love about the Metroidvania genre and the franchise as a whole and amplifies them, bringing them to a whole new level.

Puzzle-solving also makes a return to this franchise, and this time around, they’re twice as challenging as what you’d expect from these kinds of games. Metroid games have always been interesting for their grim atmosphere and challenging puzzles that force you to get good at them before you can get any further into the game. The games themselves are mostly centered around exploration, and “Dread” also gives you that feeling that leaves you on the edge of your seat. This game does not disappoint in any of its newer updates compared to previous installments. When you control Samus in this game, it really feels like you are exploring a new world where mercy is not in its vocabulary.

The plot of this game is just as dark and atmospheric as the previous installments of the Metroid games. The Metroid Prime trilogy is considered the best of the franchise in terms of both storytelling and gameplay. Samus’s character has always been intriguing and gets much deeper into character growth with each new game. The lore of these games are given a massive update in “Dread.” This game has a lore and a world that will never lose its grip on you whenever you keep leveling up Samus.

The gameplay present in this game is easily some of the best gameplay you will find in the Metroid franchise. The previous gameplay in older Metroid games feels a bit limited, yet there is plenty of exploration in its gorgeous settings. The world in “Metroid Dread” is cybernetic, cold, dark and compelling as the game’s progression is in your face. The controls are tight and responsive; it seriously feels smooth every time Samus moves around. Even though the Nintendo Switch is still limited at 60fps compared to the PS5’s and Xbox Series X’s 120fps, it still feels good on your hands whenever you play as the titular character from start to finish.