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Metroid Dread | Critical Consensus

Critics agree Samus Aran's return is engaging to play through but the challenge can be a bit frustrating at times

Friday saw Nintendo EPD and MercurySteam's release of Metroid Dread for the Nintendo Switch.

Metroid Dread is a side-scrolling action-adventure title where heroine Samus Aran finds herself being hunted by dangerous alien lifeforms and murderous robots on the planet ZDR.

The critical response has been positive as the game currently has a Metacritic average of 88, or relatively positive reviews -- and it's already the off to a great start in the UK.

"Metroid Dread is the exact jolt of energy the Metroid series needed. What's 19 years old feels new again thanks to sharp gameplay additions that enhance both battles and exploration," said Digital Trend's Giovanni Colantonio in his 4.5/5 review.

Edie W-K of Checkpoint Gaming was in agreement with her 9/10 review: " A continuation of Samus' story from Metroid Fusion, Metroid Dread excels as a hybrid of both classic and modern Metroid gameplay."

VG247's Alex Donaldson notes in his 4/5 review that the game will satisfy Metroid fans but may not exactly be welcome for series newcomers.

"There's an extended sequence at the start of the game to get you up to speed, but at the same time the story will likely really only land with a decent amount of knowledge of the series," he said. "Combine that with how unforgiving the game can be -- to the point of feeling a little unfair, sometimes -- and I'd say this isn't one for newcomers."

Critics generally agreed that the combat in the game was engaging and at times unfair.

"The improved battles are especially noticeable in boss fights, which are some of the toughest I've played in a Nintendo game in quite some time. Big battles require a mastery of Samus' entire move set." said Colantonio.

Donaldson said, while Dread is certainly engaging, battles can be unexpectedly difficult at times.

"It's fair to say that Metroid is one of Nintendo's most 'hardcore' focused gaming franchises -- and Dread leans into that. It can be surprisingly unforgiving and difficult sometimes, especially in boss battles -- I bounced off some for double-digit attempts before nailing their patterns and understanding how to counter them, and I know others who fared much worse," he said.

Critics had different opinions on the exploration of planet ZDR and the manner Samus' backtracking.

"Dread avoids feeling too linear, which is certainly a good thing, but the backtracking can sometimes be a chore," Edie W-K explained.

Carolyn Petit of Kotaku said that being Samus Aran has never felt better in the publication's official review.

"She moves with a speed and agility that are remarkable even by series standards, possesses a new slide that feels like a natural part of her moveset, and gains all the traditional powers that make conquering the best Metroid games so satisfying," said Petit.

She adds that Dread falls a bit short when compared to other title throughout the Metroid franchise.

"And yet, despite delivering all this tried-and-true satisfaction, Dread doesn't rank as one of the most memorable games in the series."

Petit notes that along with the music, narrative, and visuals the game is lacking a particular mood found among its predecessors.

Offering a different opinion, Gene Park of The Washington Post said "Unfortunately, backgrounds don't do enough to make navigating ZDR easier or more memorable."

"It's the gameplay situations that matter more, and it might be a case of spreading itself too thin. While the planet has eight different regions, more than any other Metroid game to date, that expanse seems to work against the game's strengths," said Park.

"The result is a Metroid game that feels like it is designed by gridwork and less about creating a convincing world."

Josh West's 3.5/5 review for GamesRadar presents a good summary of the game that presents it's strengths and criticisms.

"Metroid Dread's often idiosyncratic approach to combat and control has a wide-reaching impact on what this 2D adventure can ultimately achieve," he said.

"There's a great game buried in here, but you'll need to constantly push through some frustrating encounters and points of friction to find it. This isn't the return Metroid deserved after Fusion, but after 19 years perhaps it's no surprise that Samus Aran is a little off her game."

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Jeffrey Rousseau

Staff Writer

Jeffrey Rousseau joined GamesIndustry.biz in March 2021. Based in Florida, his work focused on the intersectionality of games and media. He enjoys reading, podcasts, staying informed, and learning how people are tackling issues.