Metroid Dread, tested on Nintendo Switch OLED: initial impressions

Metroid Dread, tested on Nintendo Switch OLED: initial impressions

Metroid Dread, tested on Nintendo Switch OLED

One thing is clear. With its pacing changes, smooth action, and more aggressive approach than ever, Metroid Dread could be the hottest and funniest chapter in the entire 2D saga. Or at least this is the impression I got after playing the most important game in the autumn of Nintendo Switch for two hours. Awaited for almost twenty years and developed by the Spanish MercurySteam, the new game supervised by the historical director Yoshio Sakamoto has two objectives: on the one hand, to offer a worthy sequel to Metroid Fusion and a satisfying conclusion to a narrative arc that began on the NES in 1986; on the other hand to modernize the Metroid formula in 2D, while remaining faithful to the DNA of the series, but demonstrating that Samus Aran still has a lot to say in an age when games like Hollow Knight have set the bar very, very high.

Nintendo has allowed us to try the beginning of the adventure on Switch OLED, but while we will talk about the console very soon, on this occasion we focus specifically on those aspects that, in the heat of the moment, we have remained more impressed than this test of Metrod Dread.

The funniest 2D Metroid

Metroid Dread, the new suit with which Samus Aran begins the adventure With Metroid: Samus Returns on Nintendo 3DS, MercurySteam had already experimented with some ideas capable of modernizing the Metroid 2D formula. The ability to aim 360 ° or neutralize enemy attacks with a well-placed uppercut gave new and more dynamic ways to interact with the environment or respond to dangers.

Yet, both to take aim and to counterattack, the remake of the Game Boy game forced to stop, continuously interrupting the flow of the game and the movement of Samus: too often we put ourselves on the defensive, waiting of the opponent's attack. In Metroid Dread this does not happen: you can aim 360 degrees while running, use a counterattack without slowing, slide into tight spaces, hit enemies with midair kicks or energy-charged jumps.

Samus has never been so mobile and fun to control, jumping and running from room to room like a possessed woman. The new skill set (which will inevitably expand as you progress in the game) allows you to play much more aggressively, to neutralize enemy attacks without stopping, to anticipate the moves of your opponents and consequently also lead to a more vision. wide and organic of the room in which you are located. Never like in Dread, Samus is a real fury, and once you become familiar with the dangers and patterns of the enemies it becomes fun to cross even the most harmless rooms.

From hunter to prey

The close shot in Metroid Dread, much more violent and effective than in Samus Returns One of the most interesting dynamics introduced with Metroid Dread is that linked to EMMI , deadly and fast robots that patrol specific areas of the map and that cannot be eliminated except with the use of a special Omega cannon. This means that, once you enter an E.M.M.I. area, Samus's role is completely reversed and, from an unstoppable hunter, she turns into a prey on the run.

Very early in the adventure, the game gives the protagonist the opportunity to become invisible for a limited period of time, but the tight spaces and the tenacity of the E.M.M.I. they leave few options: sooner or later you are caught and have to run away, desperately looking for the best path to sow your pursuer.

One of Samus' abilities in Metroid Dread allows her to go invisible for a while. If you are then hunted down, Samus has one last chance to survive, but the timing required to repel the enemy attack is ( thankfully) extremely strict. This means that the E.M.M.I. they should remain a formidable threat for the duration of the game, but the rare satisfaction one feels in being able to escape is priceless. Whether she will remain like this for the whole adventure, however, is to be seen. The chase sequences work so well precisely because, as mentioned, outside the E.M.M.I. there is a strong feeling of power and agility. A moment before you cross the areas of the map relentlessly stocking up on enemies, the next moment you are in a panic, trying to sow an indestructible robot. The musical accompaniment also contributes perfectly to emphasize Samus's passage from huntress to prey: as soon as he sets foot in an EMMI area, the music presses in a dramatic way, with the gait of two notes that winks at the terrifying theme of Lo Shark.

Before trying Metroid Dread, the fear was that these sequences could ruin the rhythm of the game and burden the experience, bringing it into an area too anxious for too long and frequent periods. Instead, at least judging from the start of the game, MercurySteam seems to have found the right balance, keeping the player constantly on his toes but without oppressing and pressing him for too long. The sense of threat is present and concrete, but even after the most frenetic chases, you don't feel so exhausted as to want a break. Indeed, you want to keep moving forward, and the hope is that the game will maintain this perfect balance for the rest of the adventure.

Samus never so expressive

In Metroid Dread the cannon of Samus is almost always seen small, but the cutscenes allow you to appreciate the design, mechanisms and enhancements In some ways, that protagonist of Metroid Dread could be the most expressive Samus Aran we have seen so far in a chapter of the series. And this even when compared to that of the much divisive Metroid Other M, where her face was always visible through her helmet and there were numerous sequences in which she was not wearing her suit, she spoke and showed herself vulnerable.

Metroid Dread's expressiveness is different, elegant, at times more effective, which first of all passes through Samus's animations, both in the game and in the cinematics. The movements of the legs while running, the way she leans an arm against a wall that she cannot overcome, the smoothness with which she jumps low obstacles or how she strengthens her arms when she climbs.

One of the first bosses of Metroid Dread: "Say hello to my little friend" In cutscenes, when preparing for a fight or finishing off a huge boss, he shows his confidence and strength through irresistibly cool poses, but above all his face is never shown at random. Those rare moments in which her eyes are visible through the visor of the helmet serve to highlight even more the state of mind of the huntress, now determined, now completely overwhelmed by the enemy. MercurySteam seems to have understood what did little work in the Samus Returns animations and proposed in Dread a more energetic, more acrobatic Samus, with the body more projected forward during the race and that chains in a fluid and explosive way somersaults, uppercuts and cannon shots.

History and final with a bang?

In Metroid Dread, the entrance and exit from the EMMI zones it is highlighted by special doors that close if the enemy robot notices Samus' presence Almost twenty years have passed since the release of Metroid Fusion, the chapter of the series set chronologically before Metroid Dread. For many, Dread will even be the first Metroid they've ever played, so it's predictable that Nintendo and MercurySteam want to make sure the story is accessible and engaging for both veterans of the series and newbies alike.

Fortunately, although full of nuances and insights, the narrative arc of Metroid 2D is made up of a few really important events, which Dread perfectly manages to summarize with a short introduction movie completely dubbed in Italian (but if you want to get ready, you can also find our summary of the history of Metroid online). In a few seconds the game introduces Samus, her encounter with the Metroid and above all the one with the parasite X, summarizing the events of Fusion and presenting the incipit that brought her to the planet ZDR.

In Metroid Dread Samus' eyes are rarely seen and only in precise and significant moments The plot is certainly not the main reason why Metroid fans continue to adore the series, and from the very beginning there is no shortage some clichés that by now they end up accepting and that's it: this is the case of the technological amnesia that, for the umpteenth time, leads Samus to start the adventure without the skills she got in the previous missions. Once again we return to wear the suit of a silent Samus, and the only friendly voice is that of Adam, the artificial intelligence of his ship that, as in Fusion, will give information on the base and the dangers of the planet ZDR all interior of specific rooms scattered around the map.

The introduction of Metroid Dread plants the seeds for a mysterious story and an even more formidable enemy than the E.M.M.I., promising to delve even deeper into the secrets and mythology of the Chozo. This would be enough, were it not that Dread represents the conclusion of a narrative arc that began thirty-five years ago and left unfinished for much of this time: Samus's latest great 2D adventure deserves a fireworks finale, and we don't see the time to find out if MercurySteam has succeeded in the enterprise.

In the first couple of hours together with Metroid Dread we faced huge alien creatures, which EMMI escaped and explored two different areas of the planet. Yet it is only a small portion. We do not know what awaits us later, how satisfying the boss battles will be, how interesting and varied the areas of the map will prove, how intricate the design of the rooms and the occasional environmental puzzles. Above all, how long the game will be able to maintain that perfect balance in alternating tension and sense of power that we have seen in these first bars.


The tension in the E.M.M.I. it is high but never exhausting The action flows more fluidly, energetically, and the game does not hold your hand (for now) great rhythm and balance between exploration and moments of escape DOUBT The quality of the bosses and the more advanced areas will be crucial Will the finale be able to pay off a 20-year wait? Have you noticed any errors?

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