Looking for a near-perfect level of difficulty? Then Metroid Dread is the game for you.

Nov. 28, 2022

By Jude McElroy

After nearly two decades of radio silence, Metroid Dread debuted on Oct. 8, 2021. 

Upon the release of Dread’s predecessor Metroid Fusion, producer Yoshio Sakamoto was ready to release the fifth mainline Metroid game, but due to the technical limitations of the Nintendo DS, the game got stuck in development hell

The game was only publicly mentioned a couple of times, first in a 2005 internal software list and then in the February 2006 issue of “Official Nintendo Magazine” with an expected release date in November 2006. Then, the March 2006 issue of the magazine said that at the E3 2006 convention, more information about the project would be announced. 

Metroid Dread never appeared in E3 2006, and the final time it was alluded to was in Metroid Prime 3, released in 2007, where a text string read “Experiment status report update: Metroid project ‘Dread’ is nearing the final stages of completion.” 

That was the last fans had heard of the game, so many believed it was canceled. However, in June 2021, during Nintendo’s E3 Direct, the game was revealed to be coming to Nintendo Switch in October 2021. After 19 years, Metroid fans had finally gotten the sequel for which they had been waiting.

Metroid Dread turned out to be an amazing game, but it has two main shortcomings. First is the music. It’s not bad by any means, but when compared to the soundtracks of its predecessors, it kind of falls short. I actually quite like the music, but it was missing the magic that the music of past games had. 

Next is my issue with the storyline, specifically the way it is presented to the player throughout the game. It starts with a recap of the events of the main series Metroid games. After the game catches people up on the storyline, it jumps into Metroid Dread’s story. A recording of an X-Parasite, a being thought to be extinct, was sent to the Galactic Federation. The recording was traced to a planet named ZDR. The X has the potential to destroy the galaxy, so the Federation sends seven robots called E.M.M.I.s to investigate the recording. After communication with the E.M.M.I.s is severed, they turn to bounty hunter Samus Aran, the only known person in the galaxy that is immune to the X. This is due to Metroid DNA that was injected into her in the previous game, Fusion, to save her life after her first encounter with the X. 

Samus quickly embarks to ZDR and descends into the planet’s depths to find and exterminate the X by using an elevator that goes to the very bottom of creature-made infrastructure. Once she steps out of the elevator, she is attacked by a mysterious creature. After putting up a good fight, Samus is cornered, but right before the screen fades to black, Samus opens her eyes wide with red energy pulsating around her suit. 

Players gain control after Samus wakes up with all of her abilities gone, and her only lead is that her ship is still on the surface of the planet. 

The game sets up its plot wonderfully and leaves the player with a lot of questions about what they just saw, especially regarding the creature who attacked her and why it didn’t kill her when it had the chance. The game drags the player in with all of its unanswered questions. 

I absolutely adore this game’s combat and bosses, and it is by far the game’s greatest strength.

Then, the storyline takes a backseat until halfway through the game when another long cutscene dumps a ton of information. I won’t spoil the game by explaining this information, but I dislike that the plot goes ignored for a lot of its runtime. I would have much preferred the information to be sprinkled throughout the game as it is played. 

Thankfully, the gameplay is phenomenal. The way Samus moves is so fluid and responsive, especially when paired with the mobility upgrades. From the Grapple Beam to the Speed Booster to, my personal favorite, the Flash Shift, players will constantly be moving around when fighting or exploring. 

Speaking of upgrades, Metroid Dread is designed so players will find almost all of them naturally. There is only one optional upgrade that one needs to go out of their way to look for. Every other upgrade appears as needed to push players toward their next objective without outright telling them where to go next. 

Samus’s companion ADAM will sometimes point players in the right direction, but it never feels too straightforward. I’ve seen some contention over the progression, but I find it ingenious how the developers managed to create a world that flows so beautifully.

My favorite part about Metroid Dread is its bosses. If you had asked me what perfect difficulty looks like in a game, I would say, without hesitation, that Metroid Dread takes the cake. The bosses are all incredibly difficult, but they are never overwhelming. Every single death is the players’ fault, not the bosses’. 

It all comes down to skill. The bosses don’t pull any fast ones or hit players repeatedly with powerful attacks. Metroid Dread asks you to get good, not get lucky, and I love it. Every victory feels all the more satisfying when players know they overcame that boss with little luck involved. 

The way Samus controls and the way the bosses are designed creates some of the most difficult yet enjoyable boss fights I’ve ever seen. That shaking I felt after beating a particularly difficult boss like Kraid, especially my first time around, was so gratifying. I absolutely adore this game’s combat and bosses, and it is by far the game’s greatest strength.

Overall, I’d give Metroid Dread is a 9/10. It has weaknesses in its story structure, and its music is a bit underwhelming. Everything else is amazing, though, and I cannot recommend this game strongly enough. It took a while to be released, but Metroid Dread was definitely worth the wait.

  • Samus stands in an elevator ready to go to another area.
  • Samus successfully parries Drogyga, the boss of the Burenia area.
  • Samus is in front of the grapple beam upgrade.
  • Samus gets ready to hear another briefing from ADAM, her guide throughout her adventures on ZDR.
  • Samus just defeated the first major boss of Dread, Corpius.


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