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The Top 10 Games Of 2021: Metroid Dread

The Top 10 Games Of 2021: Metroid Dread
Images via Nintendo

Written by 

Tom Chapman

Posted 

30th Nov 2021 16:40

2021 was a big year for Samus Arun, as the battered and bruised bounty hunter introduced herself to a whole new generation of fans. It's been four years since Metroid: Samus Returns made its mark on the 3DS, so Samus' long-awaited arrival on the Nintendo Switch was something of a big deal. 

Even if Samus is something of a mystery who is lost against a backdrop of Nintendo mascots like Mario, Link, and Pikachu, her role as a woman in video games and a 35-year history means Metroid Dread is a much-needed return to form.

'Switching' It Up

Metroid Dread Gameplay

Retaining the side-scrolling aspects of other 2D Metroid games, Dread was originally conceived in the mid-'00s but scrapped due to console limitations of the time. Following Samus Returns, the industry at large begged for another 2D side-scroller. The release of Metroid Prime 4 is all well and good, but in terms of classic MetroidDread was like heading home for a warm hug from a steely bounty hunter. 

One of Metroid Dread's big pulls was the fact it dug deep into the lore of the franchise. More than just being a modern remake of a classic Metroid game (which would've been easy), MercurySteam and Nintendo EPD delivered a bold reimagining with essences of what was already familiar.

Other highlights included Samus' stealth elements so she could try and evade those rogue EMMI robots. The Phantom Cloak ability let her slip through the shadows unnoticed but came at a cost of her speed. Retaining Samus Returns' melee elements, we had two chances to take out the EMMIs before scooping a dead Samus off the floor.

Speaking of EMMIs, there's that rightful fist bump when you found each area's charged superweapon and can take out the bots without having to skulk around them at every corner. 

Filling Us With Dread (The Good Kind)

Raven Beak Metroid Dread

Across the board, Metroid Dread was heralded as a triumph. Extended anime cutscenes look like they were pulled from the Smash Bros. series - where Samus has rightly become a mainstay.

Added to this, there was so much more than just a main quest to complete. Having to retrace your steps and head back to a fork in the road when your path is blocked is a frustrating but necessary evil. 

Importantly, Metroid Dread has set the bar achingly high for Metroid Prime 4. The next chapter will obviously be a very different type of game. Still, there's a danger that Metroid Prime 4 will fall under its weight after Dread showed us exactly why this old school style of entry still has a place.

Things aren't perfect, and while you'll probably get bored of fighting the same kind of miniboss over and over, the main baddies are some of the most colourful to grace the Metroid name. Much like the Soulslike genre, Metroidvania is alive and well even decades after it first came into our lives.

There may not be much reason to return to ZDR once you've polished off the bird-like Raven Beak and filled in the gaps of Samus' story (again), but that doesn't matter. Metroid Dread is a truly beautiful game to behold, that will have you spinning in a ball with glee at every turn. 

 

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