Metroid Dread: Is it better than Prime?

It’s a rare achievement for a single work of art to give birth to an entire genre, but Metroid managed to do just that in 1986. In a gaming world where moving to the right of the screen was the norm, Metroid boldly encouraged players to explore left, up, down, and across an entire planet. Metroid Dread follows this legacy.

The genre has since become known as “Metroidvania,” a nod to the Castlevania series. This helped to further define the genre. Nowadays, it’s a favorite among indie studios. And its impact can be felt in a wide range of games, from “Dark Souls” to the Batman: Arkham series.

Metroid Dread Release Date

Metroid Dread marks the first new installment in the series since 2017. After its release on October 8, 2021, it faces two daunting tasks.

Metroid Dread’s One of the Toughest Bosses in Drogyga. Wanna know how to beat him? Click Here.

One is introducing a franchise that has underperformed in terms of sales. Compared to other prominent Nintendo titles. And to a new generation of gamers and recapturing the essence that made the series so influential, to begin with.

Metroid Dread

This challenge comes at a time when Metroid-inspired games such as Ori and the Blind Forest have demonstrated a deep understanding of what made the original Metroid such a captivating and unforgettable experience.

Metroid Dread Review

Metroid Dread and its Spain-based developer Mercury Steam come tantalizingly close to achieving these objectives. With one notable exception: its world design is difficult to commit to memory.

These games typically require players to remember locations they can’t access early in the game.

Metroid Dread

So that when they eventually acquire the necessary tool or power-up, they know to return to that area and claim their reward. Planet ZDR in Metroid Dread presents a commendable effort in this aspect.

Having difficulty finding the Elun Items in Metroid Dread? Click Here.

The backgrounds, for instance, are frequently breathtaking. Particularly when the protagonist of Metroid Dread Samus Aran discovers the majestic ruins of ancient Chozo civilizations. A species with which she shares a deep connection.

Gameplay

Regrettably, the stunning backgrounds are not enough to make traversing ZDR more manageable or memorable. It’s the gameplay situations that matter most. And it may be a case of the game stretching itself too thin. With eight distinct regions, more than any other Metroid game, this vastness appears to work against its strengths.

Metroid Dread

Take the Cataris region. Which aims to embody the quintessential “fire and brimstone” theme. However, at least two other regions also feature sizable rooms engulfed in lava and fire.

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This makes navigating the map challenging. As players must remember multiple lava-infested areas to revisit. This issue would be less prominent in a game with fewer regions. But it seems the eight regions in Metroid Dread don’t do enough to differentiate themselves from one another.

The result is a Metroid game that feels more like a gridwork design and is less focused on building a believable world.

Background details, such as native wildlife roaming the planet, somewhat alleviate this issue. But in a Metroid game, the foreground should take precedence. The first and second Metroid games primarily featured pitch-black backgrounds. Yet the distinct qualities of the Brinstar and Norfair regions were memorable due to the developers placing those details at the forefront.

Norfair was teeming with lava, accompanied by an intense, syncopated musical march.

And even though it’s been years since I’ve played Metroid Prime, I can still recall the snow-capped Phendrana Drifts. But if my life depended on it, I wouldn’t be able to describe the Ghavoran or Dairon regions of Metroid Dread a game I played as recently as last night.

Metroid Dread is Kinda Dread

I’m not robbing Metroid Dread of its qualities. For fans of Metroid, this game is a must-play, as it pays homage to the entire series history. Many anticipated that Metroid Dread would be a direct sequel to the highly acclaimed, horror-infused Metroid Fusion.

However, it would be more accurate to say that it’s a continuation of the stories from Super Metroid and even the original Game Boy game, Metroid 2: Return of Samus.

Without giving away any spoilers, it’s safe to say that Metroid Dread will compel seasoned players to view the older games from a fresh perspective.

The conclusion of Metroid Dread left me astonished with its narrative twists, ultimately justifying this new addition to the series. Metroid Dread presents significant questions for Samus and the series’ future.

This is a story that series writer Yoshio Sakamoto has been eager to share for a long time, making it a triumph for both him and the fans that it finally came to fruition.

As the game progresses, both the gameplay and environments improve during the 10-hour journey. Later locations like Ferenia and the aforementioned palatial grounds may linger in my memory longer than others.

As Samus ventures through the planet, previously visited locations are reimagined and restructured, ensuring that backtracking remains engaging and pleasantly perplexing. Regaining your powers (yes, Metroid Dread adheres to the classic Metroidvania trope of depriving Samus of her abilities initially) creates a satisfying rhythm for exploration and item discovery.

However, this rhythm is occasionally disrupted by ZDR’s world design.

Metroid Dread Controls

Players may encounter certain bottlenecks on the planet where progress is halted until they figure out the next step or how to defeat a specific enemy.

This could be a challenge for some, as Metroid Dread demands considerable dexterity. Holding the L shoulder button to aim, the R shoulder button to select missiles, pressing Y to shoot, occasionally using B to dodge, and the R trigger to employ a grappling hook are all necessary.

These controls and abilities must be executed simultaneously while avoiding powerful, screen-filling attacks that can deplete one to three energy tanks in a single blow.

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