According to my save file, I’ve put almost six hours into Metroid Dread. In my head, that time makes me think that I should be close to wrapping up the game; like the final boss should be on the horizon. In reality…well, I’m pretty sure that about a third of those six hours have been dedicated to me just starting at various maps in confusion, and another third has gone into me retracing my steps for the umpteenth time after my umpteenth death. In short, getting through Metroid Dread is going to take me awhile.
Warning: brief but unmarked spoilers ahead!
A few years ago, I wrote a post here in which I lightly compared Super Metroid to Guacamelee, a game into which I was knee-deep at the time. I had been having some difficulties with Guacamelee’s arduous (at times) platforming, and I couldn’t help but think about I ever got though Super Metroid in the first place. Further, if I had been, in fact, playing Super Metroid for the first time ever then, would I have actually liked it? With Metroid Dread, I find myself wondering the exact same thing. I’ve played other platformers since having an unsuccessful go at Guacamelee, and I know that my reflexes aren’t what they used to be. But no platformer I’ve played within the past few years has brought these doubts back to the surface, the ones that have me questioning my own abilities.
This digression is not to say that Metroid Dread isn’t a good game. So far, it’s an excellent, beautiful, and compelling game, and I truly can’t wait to make my way through it, dying, confusion, and frustration included. Because that’s what the Metroid series is all about. It’s about being an adventurer and problem-solver all at once. Although Dread mildly takes the well-oiled 2D Metroid formula in the opposite direction – making Samus travel upward through a world to find her ship rather than her starting from her ship and exploring downward – there’s nothing terribly new in the game. We have more Metroid Fusion-esque chase scenes thanks to the inclusion of the murder-death-kill E.M.M.I. robots, and there are some new abilities for Samus to utilize (I’m loving the spider magnet), and they even stuck in a few notable characters (Hi, Kraid! Bye, Kraid!), but the game is a 2D Metroid platformer through and through.
And that’s exactly what I’ve forgotten within my almost-six hours of play, and what I need to keep in mind moving forward.
Truth is, when I first played Super Metroid, it was a real challenge. Getting stuck, dying repeatedly, and restarting from scratch was just a part of the game. I ended up keeping notes on the game so as to cut down on backtracking. But making it through the game that first time was nothing short of exhilarating. I feel pangs of that now in Metroid Dread every time I beat a boss or an E.M.M.I. robot – it’s horrible in the moment, and horribly exciting once it’s all said and done. Boss battles aside, just like in ye olden days, Metroid Dread doesn’t offer any wayfinding, so it’s easy enough to lose your way, or worse, end up in a place for which you aren’t properly equipped. These things happened to me in Super Metroid just as they are happening now in Metroid Dread. And I need to remember that it’s all part of the process, and not something casting judgment on my skills.
There may come a day when I beat Metroid Dread in six hours (ha, I don’t even know how long the game is supposed to be!); for me to expect that to happen upon first play is just silly. My love of Super Metroid didn’t occur overnight, nor did my ability to play it well – I chose to foster that relationship based on the excellent story and gameplay Super Metroid offered. If I can just get out my own way long enough, I know I will find the same in Metroid Dread eventually.
All images, included lede, were taken by author during Nintendo Switch gameplay of Metroid Dread (© Nintendo).