Developer: Mercury Steam
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Metroid Dread is that sinking feeling I've had in the back of my mind since playing Samus Returns. This game was all but announced in the Chozo Memories in Samus Returns, so its announcement at E3 2021 was no surprise to me. I knew it was coming. I just hoped that by some turn of events Mercury Steam wouldn't be involved because Samus Returns was one of the worst Metroid games I've ever played. They are the developers, though, and sadly, they didn't learn much from Samus Returns’ failures. Metroid Dread doubles down on all the questionable design choices from Samus Returns and piles on Metroid Fusion's on top of them.
The way Metroid Dread is structured is by far my biggest problem with the game. Metroid Dread feels like a game made by people who really wanted to remake Metroid Fusion. It's very linear, constricting, restricting, and segmented. It’s all the worst things about Metroid Fusion times a hundred. Every zone in the game is off on an island by itself and it’s only connected to the others by teleports, subways, and elevators. There isn't even a central hub area. These zones don't play like your usual Metroidvania dungeon or Fusion's zones either. You only get to play in a small chunk of each zone at a time. After beating the boss or getting the item in that area, you're allowed to leave. But not before the game closes off areas so you can't explore them with the new item you probably just got.
Metroid Dread is not the worst Metroid game, at least? Metroid II still holds that title. I also like Dread better than Samus Returns. That’s about the highest praise I can give it. Nice graphics can only get you so far. There were moments when I thought that if the game kept up the level of fun, it could end up being great, but the way the game is structured just kept bringing it back down.