Metroid Dread Review

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Review of: Metroid Dread
Gaming:
Autumn Wright

Reviewed by:
Rating:
2.5
On October 20, 2021
Last modified:October 20, 2021

Summary:

Metroid Dread can't commit to giving players an action-packed power fantasy or a suspenseful adventure against the odds. It's quick, short, and snappy -- all things that can be good when used right, but not at all what Metroid Dread set out to deliver.

Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread is a game for the season only. It’s satisfying like an incredibly clicky toy and assuredly will find replayability in those looking to maximize their progress and speed. But it’s a brief foray for everyone else, like a single note trying to make as much music as it can with rhythm alone. And that’s not all bad — I could have just described a Rubik’s cube too. But the difference is that Dread makes promises. And whether I ignore the hype of hungry fans and Nintendo itself, or consider what the game in my hands sets out to do, Dread fails to deliver.

The biggest swing Dread takes, its whole conceit really, is purely tonal. Isolation, detachment, suspense — dread. It never really achieves this though. The opening hour is promising: Samus, the great hero we know, is tasked to merely survive her ascent to the surface of planet ZDR. She wakes up with amnesia after the first of many narrative contrivances, and her chances of achieving that basic goal look quite slim.

But of course, her chances are great. In fact, Dread also wants players to revel in Samus’ power. It’s hard to worry for the woman who struts around carrying a giant cannon. If we’re being generous, Samus is stoic. And that’s fine, but what’s the point of making us slowly crawl through this intricately designed haunted house if she’s never going to get caught off guard. It is, as many have noted, supremely satisfying when Samus blasts an encumbered Kraid in the face. It’s also the opposite of what the entire area surrounding that boss room wanted me to feel. In trying to cut it both ways, Dread fails to make me feel much of anything most of the time. 

This tonal juxtaposition extends to the EMMI — quadrupedal Federation robots that have oh so mysteriously gone rogue and you’ll never guess what happened. Encounters with the EMMI, and all my attempts to not encounter them, were suspenseful at first. But again, Dread tried to play a whole song with one note. There’s static-y overlay and grey filter in their allotted zones to set the mood, but egress through any of the many doors nearby, and the screen will saturate in safety.

The gameplay itself does little to hold the suspense. I had assumed that taking each EMMI out would feel novel and substantial, probably forcing me to utilize my new abilities uncovered nearby. Instead, the game commits to a singular mechanic found only in these heavily scripted sequences that tries really hard to be suspenseful, but is too much of an obvious puzzle to make me scared.

Really, Metroid Dread is a big puzzle box rather than a haunted house. Boss fights are most often frustrating because I know exactly what needs to be done but lack the precision to execute without practice. This is dreadful in a different sense. Suspense traded for tedium as I grind through the next point of progression. 

I overcame each of these obstacles and was quickly ushered down an almost completely linear route to the next boss fight. There was little incentive to explore beyond making the numbers go up. I was guided directly to the powers I needed when I needed them. Sure, they feel cool when you first obtain them, but that didn’t change anything because the most effective way to deal with the many, many, regenerating enemies around the map is to simply wait, parry, and tap one button to execute a fatal counter-attack.

What’s there is there, and all that I am left with is the feeling that this is another one of those. You know, the run-based rogue-lites we’ve seen a plethora of. It’s fast, action-oriented, and doles out power-ups like Dead Cells or Hades, trading in exploration for a string of fast-paced combat sequences that don’t actually utilize these new abilities.

So yeah, Metroid Dread didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t impress upon me the way a game with an entire genre named after it feels like it should. It’s all just a bit trendy, I guess.

This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Nintnedo.

Metroid Dread
Middling

Metroid Dread can't commit to giving players an action-packed power fantasy or a suspenseful adventure against the odds. It's quick, short, and snappy -- all things that can be good when used right, but not at all what Metroid Dread set out to deliver.

Comments (30)

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  1. Sid Nightwalkersays:

    Oh yeah right. Go back to playing some more overrated joke indie games you wannabe intellectual.

  2. Kungfu Herosays:

    Trendy? All those kids with their Fortnites and Metroids. They’re just pretending to like Metroid to be cool.

  3. killerwhalesays:

    This is an awful review it uses words like grinding incorrectly, grinding is the exact opposite of what you described. Having to practice timing is how bosses are meant to be, being able to learn a boss the first time but needing to simply become strong enough to bullrush an opponent is grinding. Also trendy? what trend is dread supposed to be chasing? This review is filled with so much pseudo-intellectual nonsense that it doesn’t mean anything, if this is your reasoning as to why dread is a 5/10 game I fear for your taste in videogames in general .

  4. gesichtsalfsays:

    Ah now you’re trying to reviewbomb by publishing a terrible review on this website. I bet you don’t make money with this or at least I hope so, because it’s not possible to call you a journalist at all.
    P.S.: Pure incompetence.

  5. Fuck yousays:

    Fuck your article.

  6. Someonesays:

    This women or whatever this creature is, is an idiot. She shouldn’t be allowed to rate games.

  7. StarPlatinumsays:

    These comments from butthurt kids who specifically look for bad reviews on something they’ve already played. If thats not proving the authors point, I dunno what is. Anyway, well stated opinion from someone whose parents didn’t have to buy them a switch. Thank you.

    1. You’re a dumbasssays:

      Stupid you comment is dumbfounded you probably don’t even know how to play the game

    2. Lukesays:

      I wonder if you’re just a hater who wastes time defending review bombing or a secondary account of the pathetic “Autumn Wright”?

      In either case, I don’t know which is more ridiculous.

      1. You’re a dumbasssays:

        Same!! Everything in this article made no sense whatsoever….

    3. You’re a dumbasssays:

      The other has no point they are very incorrect…. The game is so good. I’m sorry it’s not a battle royal or a stupid animal crossing that you people are use too. Your small illogical minds don’t let you learn how to play a different game and use you mind to think.

    4. You're still a dumbasssays:

      idiot, anyone with half a brain knows this is a 8/10 for even the most cynical gamer. 5/10 only tells us she dont know what shes talking about. Read this review before purchasing the game and after finishing it I had to come back to let her know just how off the review was. It’s pathetic, just like u

  8. Lukesays:

    Dude, just look at the face of this Autumn Wright LOL

    This is not only a refutation to his pathetic and poorly written review, but to his very existence as a person.

  9. I have three words for this great article author. YOU ARE STUPID.

  10. This webpage dont know how rate a game, so uselesssays:

    Son unos pobres inútiles , se nota que solo llevan jugando videojuegos hace menos de 5 años, unos completos ignorantes en entender la lógica del diseño de niveles y el gameplay de una saga clásica. Dediquense mejor a jugar Fifa y CallofDuty o también a jugar juegos cinematográficos de playstation hahaha

    1. joeswansonsstraightloversays:

      Now, I dont speak spanish, but I feel you bro

  11. Martinsays:

    Damn. People down here are so angry 🙁

    I felt the same about the game. I admire the work that was put into it. And the boss fights were really fun. But I never felt that DREAD. I liked the EMMI sequences but, as you pointed out, they just felt like puzzles and never got that hard anyways.

    I always had that lingering feeling that I was somehow pushed (or rushed even) to the next item, boss fight and whatever place I needed to go, exploring felt kind of useless.

  12. The problem with this review is the writer looks barely old enough to have a long standing history with the series. This should’ve been reviewed by someone familiar with all the games; ie. the original on NES, Super Metroid on SNES, Metroid Fusion, etc…and has played through at least a couple of them, not someone that’s first console was likely a Nintendo Wii. If this website is having trouble finding experienced games reviewers familiar with what they’re reviewing, don’t even bother publishing reviews on beloved franchises like this.

    1. Basically wrote my own review on an article I'll never read againsays:

      That’s an interesting perspective, but I don’t think I agree. This article, at least I think, has tons of flaws to pick apart. Heck, it seems like Autumn even calls Dread a rogue-lite in the second to last paragraph, and what’s more Autumn calls Dread trendy… which is hilarious because unfortunately metroidvanias have literally never been trendy. Dread is a great game, and Metroid is my favorite franchise, but I don’t think it takes someone older to appreciate it, and I certainly don’t think its design and formula are too old school to effectively critique, even with new wave principles in design and feedback. I think it’s more likely that this game just wasn’t a good fit to the author’s taste.

      Still don’t know where the author got the impression that it’s a rogue-lite though…

    2. Finallysays:

      Don’t try to undermine the critic’s view by throwing in the “unexperienced” card, first of all the game was advertised as something anyone could play, of course. It wasn’t only directed to die hard fans. Second of all, die hard fans like me who’ve been played Metroid for twenty years, might actually agree with the statement that this chapter is overhyped and actually lackluster and mediocre, compared to the likes of Zero, Fusion and of course Super.

  13. B Lettsays:

    As others have pointed out, the wording used throughout this review to complain about the game makes it seem the reviewer’s own history and experience with video games, and specifically this genre of games, are a bit limited. You don’t ‘grind’ through a platformer or Metroidvania game, because typically it’s a skill based game and you can push through it all at breakneck speeds if you’ve got the skills to do so. Grinding is something you do in RPGs or games with level based systems. Dying to a boss or EMMI and trying again until you can do it is just part of the challenge of video games in general.

    The reviewer complains the game is linear, but the game is very smartly designed to keep you on track forward through the story. If it wasn’t, the reviewer would likely instead complain about getting lost and not knowing where to go and feeling their time is wasted. That would be a problem of most Metroidvanias historically, including Hollow Knight which is extremely easy to get lost in. Dread is modern in the sense that it respects the player’s time by subconsciously keeping you on track using environmental clues and being easy on the death respawns.

    Metroidvanias are meant to be giant puzzles to figure out. It’s a combination of action, platforming, puzzle, shooter, etc. It’s so many genres in one, it’s its own thing. Maybe the game was just not for this reviewer, but I’d hate to see the scores they’d give to the classics of the genre, given Dread improved so much on a lot of the issues within the genre. There’s also nothing trendy about Metroid given it barely scrapes by as is.

    It’s perfectly fair to have criticisms against Dread, but I feel the score is just completely slanted as if they lack the context of what to compare it against. As a Metroidvania game, the game excels among its peers, but as a game to this person’s personal taste, it’s just meh, 5/10.

  14. factsfromspacesays:

    I’m a huge Metroid fanboy and Dread is probably my game of the year, but I have to admit that this review is right about about pretty much everything.
    The game never really knows how it *wants* you to feel at any given point, or rather it knows all too well how it wants you to feel by being split up into EMMI and non-EMMI zones, which defeats the entire purpose. It’s also way too friendly with the checkpoints – to a degree where Save Stations almost feel pointless.
    But not only that, the game is also indecisive about what kind of player it’s trying to appeal to. Usually it railroads you from one upgrade to the next (dialogue included) like Fusion, while keeping up the pretense of being a large explorable world like Super. There really is little reason to explore when memorizing bosses’ attack patterns gets you much further than having 10 more missiles or an additional energy tank at your disposal.
    I still adore this game – it’s such a joy to move around with all these new abilities (it really works better as a power fantasy, most Metroid games do), the enemy variety is higher than ever, sequence breaking is back and… well, it’s a Metroid game. I care about this franchise. But it’s because of this bias that I can see why other people don’t see what the hype is all about. There is little to be hyped about when you’ve played other Metroidvanias in the past.

    1. Senor Snipeysays:

      Emmi area doors are the only place that give you that check point and if you dont save you loose progress🤷

    2. Senor Snipeysays:

      Im sorry but Ive never played another Metroidvania that made me feel this good

  15. Basically wrote my own review on an article I'll never read againsays:

    Full disclosure right away, I’m a huge metroid fan. It’s been my favorite game since I was a kid, but even so I’m trying to come from an unbiased perspective here. I don’t think you really got the game like others did. Maybe it wasn’t for you, and that’s cool. I think other reviews on the game speak for themselves, and at the end of the day I think it’s up to the individual player to decide how a game makes them feel, and I guess it just didn’t make you feel great.
    Metroid is definitely meant to be optimized, even if not by a speed runner, at least by an average player throughout even a single playthrough. In my opinion, a good metroidvania shouldn’t ever be such a power trip that the final boss becomes cake, but should rather give you the tools to progress and optimize your playstyle so you can deal with new and increasingly difficult threats throughout the game – something Dread really succeeds at, especially with the tried and true Metroid formula of giving you a power up and immediately showing you how to use it effectively, then letting you figure the rest out by yourself. Something I really like about metroid dread as compared to other metroid games are the emmi rooms. In a typical metroid game, the ultimate test of how well you can use your newest abilities are during boss fights, where you combat incredible threats with the fundamental gameplay of running and shooting, while using one of your latest power to solve how to beat them (like the tether with Drogyga). Fights with emmi on the other hand are less about the combat, but would rather ask the player to showcase their movement abilities, not allowing them to even touch the boss without facing near certain death. The emmi rooms are definitely what give the player the biggest sense of dread, knowing that, in stark contrast to the rest of the game, they have no power over killing the robots until they solve the puzzle. Moreover, I actually really enjoyed the immediate jump from a saturated regular room to a desaturated emmi room, and I think the special emmi doors are what made it work for me because it was very up front about telling the player where they were going, almost like a challenge to the player that dared step foot in an emmi’s massive layer, and as soon as the player gets there it’s like a cold splash of water to the face with an immediate tone change.

    There’s a lot more I could say, and I’ve practically crafted my own review of the game here in your article already, but I also just wanted to say the point of my comment isn’t to say your article was bad or anything, just to politely give you my perspective on some of the points you made. Heck, best case for me would just be if you went back and got a better reaction out of it on a second playthrough, purely for your own enjoyment. Once again though, if the game isn’t for you then it’s not for you, I don’t think any game is for everyone.

    Also, Dread definitely isn’t a rogue-lite like you seemed to say in your second to last paragraph. I don’t know what gave you that impression.

    1. Senor Snipeysays:

      Even when a game isn’t for you you should be able to review objectively. 50 is a joke. Break down the game in its various components and its clear that the game deserves no less than an 80. If you cant do that dont call yourself a video game journalist. Or hand it off to some one who will within the website.

  16. Senor Snipeysays:

    Wow this is one of the worst reviews Ive ever seen! I mean 80 out of 100 is cutting it close to being atrash rating for this game but 50. You should maybe think about another profession or give the review to a more experienced game journalist.

  17. Finallysays:

    I can’t believe my eyes, some actual criticism instead of go-with-the-flow, praise-everything, “game of the year” nonsense. You don’t like how the game boasted about how good the mood would be set? You didn’t feel any “dread”? Too bad, look at all the butthurt kids who can’t accept their beloved kids is getting some actual critic. The parry is a ridiculous mechanic that overrides anything you could want to do, and it’s a defensive option. A parry. A defensive option. In Metroid. And it’s the best thing you can do in any fight. Wow. The dread? Those funny-looking robots, with the same mechanic repeated for 7 times except woo, this time it freezes you from the other side of the room!, never made me feel any dread. Hunted? Prey? Lmao, they patrol areas. I’m a trespasser rather than a prey. The story made ZERO sense, they couldn’t bother explaining anything and instead added even more nonsense, but hey, some flashy cutscene, Samus being a BaDaSs, and wow, the kids are happy with that. Soundtrack nowhere to be found, the most notable track is a remix from Super, the rest could’ve been replaced with a lo-fi radio and I wouldn’t have complained. The graphics are the bare minimum I expect from a 60€ Nintendo IP, inferior to Zelda and Odyssey, with uninspired and forgettable enemies, backgrounds and scenery and with those ridiculous plastic-looking white suits (seriously, Samus looks like an action figure) and that laughable ever-present white cone of light from high in the centre. World design inferior to Super and yet with the same old bullshit caveats, which they were too lazy to actually evolve and modernise so from halfway (even too late imho) they just go “here, spam this radar everytime you can or get a stroke finding out the “secrets”). They couldn’t even get a fast travel system right (those “teleports” might as well be called trains, as they only literally go from A to B and viceversa, with 85 minutes of loading). I can’t stand people going “best 2D Metroid ever” and all that shit. You’ve never played Metroid during your life, that’s what that makes me think. Get the hype out of your eyes, calm down, and think about it again, fellas. This was not as great as everyone wants so hard to depict it, especially after waiting for 19 years. Or deny reality and think that this game has nothing to be complained about and try to convince yourself this is the top dog of the series and be exaggeratedly and childishly butthurt when somebody criticises it.

  18. ALLNEGATIVEYUCKsays:

    THANK YOU, for not giving Nintendo a pass, like all the other reviews I’ve read today have. The same way most of us roll our eyes and give our foul mouthed grandma and grandpa a pass when they use certain words out in public that shouldn’t be said in private but since they have been around for so long and have a prison free history to be proud of, DOES NOT make them an instant classic that everyone should love and respect and never complain of their awfulness, to anyone, is pathetic and cowardice. But we do, and look where it’s gotten us. Nintendo no longer feels the need to add the words like, RETELLING or ENHANCED or UPDATED or AN ENHANCED RETELLING of an UPDATED Nintendo Classic that came out 30 years ago in any of its advertisements for these “NEW” Game Releases. They told us that Links Awakening was gonna be the same game that it was 20 years earlier when I first bought it but this new and improved version will not ease the burden of shelling out $70 for this aggressively lazy remake with awesome Money Grab appeal that after the first 20 minutes of playing this soon to be “classic” new to you Zelda game, then congratulations, you saved Not Zelda and completed all the side quests and now you can go fish, hang out in a tree trunk with Old Man Lester or play with that viscous village dog that no one does anything about or maybe completing an entire game in 20 min has made you angry, and exaggerate a little more than normal. Then here’s some good news, a new Metroid should be released soon and it will be totally new to everyone who’s never played a Metroid Game a day in their life. It’s nice when there’s truth in advertisement. I was prepared for disappointment when buying Link’s Awakening, but no one was gonna stop me from throwing away my good money PLUS I was brand new to Switch in 2019 and so I had to set my disappointment bar much lower than it already was but there will always be certain games that no matter the reviews, good or bad, I will buy everytime. So HAD Nintendo been honest with their advertising of Metroid Dread been truthful by admitting that it’s the same game board, with the same game pieces and same extras and add ons like all previous Metroid games ever made but this one has something those all don’t, ZERO surprises or formula changes at all AND one of the most quickest and jaw dropping, head spinning event that leaves each player asking themselves… “is that it”, “that can’t be it”, “can it” and as the shock of what they just saw continues to overwhelm them while begging more questions like “you think it’s after the credits” and “this can’t be right” which is more of a statement so maybe reality has set in and there’s no more questions. Just words, ugly mean words. Although some of my words here were meant in a joking way, I do find it annoying and very tiresome that each new game in whichever series that I wait 5 to 10 years for its release and it’s the same retelling of the same old story but set in a different location or in a different year and with different outfits but with a higher purchase price and at times, less gameplay. I question purchasing Dread when I saw it’s 2GB size, knowing that BOTW (no game will ever compare, not even BOTW 2, u wait n see. ONLY comparing size) is like 14-16 GB in size. There could have been some decent cinema in Metroid but NONE? Only flash cards? I’ve said nothing positive so far about this game and I stand by that. As I said, the author has said it for me and I agreed with his entire piece here. I didn’t want to which is why I learned real quick to not play as much as I wanted to and to let the final boss fight play out for over 3 weeks because HE/SHE/IT was a tough battle but I also wanted to feel like I got my moneys worth out of a game I’ve always loved, respected and very much enjoyed since 1986, and although I’m sure I tried, there’s no way in Metroid Hell I could have finished any Metroid on any platform in one day. But I knew I could with Dread so that’s why I dragged it out as long as I did. Oh well, I’m still buying Metroid Dread again when they rerelease a remastered DX version of Metroid Dread in 6 months or 6 years. Try and stop me. THANKS FOR YOUR HONESTY!!

  19. Fredsays:

    I tried to like it. It’s just hollow and disjointed. Sneaking around isn’t metroid. copy pasta robots and emo chickens is just…bad. The music…is their…I guess. Pretty bugy as well. just not that great. it’s way to easy to get the game confused or be stuck. boss battles are tedius. smash missiles, a bajillion times. it’s just bland and boring.

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