For four years, we Metroid fans have waited for a new game (Federation Force definitely doesn't count). For eleven years, we've waited for a new game on a home console. Finally, Nintendo has seen fit to grace us with a new game, and considering that Mercury Steam - the folks who did Samus Returns on 3DS - developed Metroid Dread, my expectations were pretty high. Not only did Dread manage to meet my expectations, but it handily surpassed every single one.
Dread is the fifth entry in the main Metroid series following Metroid, Metroid II, Super Metroid, and Metroid Fusion; and it picks up shortly after the events of Fusion. Samus has received a video of an X parasite - the nemesis from Fusion that was thought to be extinct - and, after the Federation loses contact with the robots it sent to investigate, she must rush to the planet from which the video originated and investigate for herself this allegedly resurrected threat to galactic peace. Just like Bill Gates and vaccines, though, you should know never to trust a robot with which you mysteriously lost contact.
A lot of folks online have complained that as a 2D game, Metroid Dread isn't worth $60. These people have clearly never actually played the game. If you do, it becomes immediately apparent why the game commands a full retail premium (in addition to the fact that the Metroid IP carries a certain inherent value). Most immediately is the fact that the game looks absolutely gorgeous. Despite being a handheld system that outputs to the TV without any HDR support and often failing to hit a native 1080p, Metroid Dread looks phenomenal especially in the cutscenes. As you get into the game itself, you'll start to notice how smooth and precise the controls are. Nothing feels janky, and you'll never find yourself frustrated at bad enemy hit detection or missing jumps you definitely should have made; the game's mechanics are polished to near perfection here. The bosses, as well, are an absolute master class in game design. At no point does any boss ever feel unfair; they can be extremely difficult, and you'll probably die a lot when you first encounter a new boss, but it's always very clear that it's your fault and not due to a cheap attack or a BS hitbox.
With all that said, the game isn't quite perfect. The EMMIs, the robots that serve as your big scary enemy for most of the game, fail to deliver the scary impact reminiscent of Mr. X or Nemesis from Resident Evil like they feel as if they were designed to do. Instead, they just end up being frustrating. They're ridiculously annoying to navigate around without getting caught, and the last couple that you have to fight are an absolute pain in the ass to destroy. They never feel frightening, though. Just infuriating. Fortunately, that's the only real complaint I have with the game, but given how terrifying the trailer made them seem and the fact that it released in Spooptober, I was hoping for a bit of a horror-tinted Metroid.
Metroid Dread may not be a perfect game, and I don't think it quite lives up to the high bar that Metroid Fusion set, but it's definitely a SOLID game that an absolute must-play for Switch owners. Aside from the EMMIs, there's not a single aspect of this game that I thought was poorly designed. In a sea of indie games that, while good, often show their low budgets with off-putting hit boxes and shoddy platforming mechanics, it's really refreshing to see a superb AAA 2D game that reminds people that yes, 2D platformers can absolutely be good enough to justify a full retail price. If you've got a Switch, you need to play this game.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.