Metroid Dread, Samus' return is scary

Metroid Dread, Samus' return is scary

Metroid Dread

When Yoshio Sakamoto was working on a sequel to Metroid Fusion, he was not at all happy with the result. In the mid-2000s, Nintendo's historic director wanted Samus Aran's fifth 2D adventure to be graphically state-of-the-art, with the bounty hunter facing a terrifying enemy never seen before. It was supposed to come out on the Nintendo DS under the name Metroid Dread.

Too bad that in the meantime a Texan studio had set much higher standards by creating the impressive Metroid Prime for GameCube, and with the franchise now heading towards the third chapter in 3D, the two-dimensional action that Sakamoto was working on evidently he had not convinced Nintendo to continue the project.

Although some references have popped up over the years and fueled the theories of fans, Metroid Dread thus ended up in a limbo that lasted fifteen years, completely forgotten until the Japanese company began to collaborate with MercurySteam, the Spanish developer behind Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. "We decided to work with MercurySteam for Metroid: Samus Returns", Sakamoto tells us in a press interview held at the end of E3 2021. "In light of the excellent work done with that game, I knew we had found the ideal partner. to resurrect that old project, and so I asked MercurySteam to help us finally create Metroid Dread. " It is for this reason that the presentation of the game for Nintendo Switch aroused such different emotions in those who watched.

If the youngest were curious about this new game in two dimensions, those who for almost twenty years had been waiting for a real sequel to Metroid Fusion jumped on their chair as soon as the abbreviation "Metroid 5" appeared fading at the beginning of the trailer. The Samus saga, the Samus one, finally has a conclusion, and Sakamoto promised us an ending with a bang.

Final that we try to present to you in our Metroid Dread special.

The real Metroid 5

From Samus Returns the Aeon abilities that give Samus' armor are back capacity. The Phantom Clock, for example, is an upgrade that allows you to become invisible and walk slower to make less noise. It slowly consumes Aeon energy, which once finished begins to drain Samus' health. Put aside the story of Metroid Prime, forget about the parenthesis of Other M. The events of Metroid Dread resume exactly from the end of Fusion, with Samus who - after being infected with parasite X - is sent to the planet ZDR by the Galactic Federation. However, there is no need to have played the previous episodes, nor the remake Samus Returns, since an introductory sequence summarizes the main events of the first four chapters of the saga. "Dread" means "Terror", and in fact the novelty of this new Metroid lies in the new and fearsome threat that Samus will have to face and that Sakamoto has developed compared to the very first concepts of fifteen years ago.

In the regions we will explore, the E.M.M.I. , seven seemingly indestructible robots who scour the map and start chasing Samus as soon as they notice her. It wasn't clear from the game's trailer how constant their presence was, but the fear of a perpetually anxious experience disappeared as Nintendo explained in more detail how Metroid Dread's level design will work.

To amplify the sense of isolation and initial disorientation, in Metroid Dread Samus will begin the adventure from the depths of the planet with the aim of rising to the surface and reaching his ship While we see Samus crossing the caves and structures of the Artaria region, it appears clearer than the EMMIs are found only in specific areas of the map where you enter and exit consciously, allowing you to alternate moments of total panic, in which the tension is very high and you often find yourself hiding and fleeing, with other calmer ones, during which explore with the rhythms and times that Metroid fans are most accustomed to. In this case, many of the conventions of the series return: gadgets and power ups allow you to open new paths in areas already explored, some walls can be destroyed to create passages or alter the water level, while there is no lack of classic stations in which to download the map and restore Samus' health. However, it is when he enters an "E.M.M.I." that Metroid Dread introduces completely new dynamics and sensations to the saga.

Here the music changes and becomes more discreet to highlight the noises of Samus' footsteps or the verses of the enemies nearby.

Whenever the Slayer makes a noise, a * beep * and a yellow ring are a reminder that sounds can grab an EMMI's attention, prompting them to scour the area where Samus is more carefully . It is when the protagonist enters the robot's visual cone that the chase begins, the music suddenly changes to communicate a sense of urgency, while a red ring around Samus indicates that he is currently being chased.

Considering that the E.M.M.I. can continue the chase through several rooms of the same area, the huntress - now prey - must react instantly and think quickly: we were shown an example in which, running in an attempt not to be reached, it was necessary to study the surrounding area looking for a way to unlock a narrow passage, hit blocks without stopping, and slide down that tunnel before being hunted down. It is a risky idea but which, if well balanced and well distributed within the map, can always keep the pace and attention high without necessarily exhausting those who play.

A part of the fans is discussed by the artistic direction of the game, for some adequate, for others too cold and anonymous. Which side are you on? The speed of movement of the E.M.M.I., the inability to destroy them with conventional weapons and their ability to eliminate Samus as soon as they touch her are all factors that contribute to making the player feel helpless. But this does not mean that the protagonist is completely defenseless.

During the game Samus will be able to use gadgets that allow her to blend in for a few moments, she can hide behind platforms or crates to avoid the visual cone of the enemies, and as a last chance she can neutralize the fatal attack of an EMMI pressing a button with the right timing, leaving him numb for the time it takes to remove the curtains. "But watch out", we are told "because the animation of the attack changes every time, and it is very difficult to predict the exact moment in which the button will have to be pressed".

In certain rooms the camera appears significantly further away than that of Samus Returns. How comfortable will it be to play it in portability? There will be several more or less interactive cinematics throughout the adventure, emphasizing the most spectacular moments in the boss fights: Nintendo showed one, a gigantic alien beast with a scorpion tail and the ability to become invisible , which as per tradition requires the study of attack patterns, the identification of an escape route and the search for one or more weak points to hit with the most effective weapon.

It is the most classic experience of a 2D Metroid, but MercurySteam has made it more modern and more fluid giving Samus new techniques and possibilities of movement. The ability to aim in any direction while running, to perform slides without the need to transform into a Morphosphere, or to neutralize enemies with a powerful melee upright, are all ingredients that put together make the experience more frenetic and reactive. In particular, the combination of the slide and the melee strike, once perfected, will surely become fundamental to quickly navigate the regions of the planet. "Compared to previous Metroids, the world of Dread undoubtedly has a greater breadth," said Sakamoto. "The map is more open and the feeling is of a freer experience, which brings to mind the gameplay of Super Metroid".

Talking with Adam, the computer of his ship, Samus will receive some information about the planet and what happened before his arrival. Almost twenty years after the release of Fusion on the Game Boy Advance, Sakamoto has anticipated that Metroid Dread will represent the conclusion of the Metroid story arc, the one started in 1986 on the NES and which has since crossed several home and portable consoles. "In the end you will understand what I mean and everything will be clearer" he told us, suggesting an ending that will surely make fans of the Nintendo series discuss. What it means for the future of Metroid in 2D is not clear - Sakamoto simply said "Samus's adventures will continue" - but the premises for a high-level game are all there, with the development team clearly wanting to propose a experience authentic to Metroid's DNA, but which at the same time seemed more modern in gameplay and was able to communicate new sensations with a more pressing threat than ever.

The only certainty is Sakamoto's sense of relief, who wears the producer hat for the new Metroid Dread: "Working on such a long-lived series has its fascinating aspects but also its enormous challenges", He told us. "Looking back at what we have created, it is obvious that along the way we had to go and tweak the essence of the game a bit to make sure that today it is able to offer something new. For the future? I would like to try new challenges but for sure I feel enormous satisfaction in having finally completed this very long project "

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