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Metroid Dread Doesn't Save Samus from Decades of Bad Storytelling

Metroid Dread delivers on the gameplay front, but like most recent games in the series, it doesn't give Samus her proper due.

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Chris_Wray66d ago

It's odd, but Metroid is one of the biggest franchises around, despite the lack of growth in the series and the mixed quality of games over time. Then again, Metroid will always be crap narratively because every game follows the exact same routine of some contrivance to remove everything Samus has even known.

Jackhass66d ago

I would like a Metroid where you get to keep your basic kit (morph ball ect.) to start and they strictly give you new powerups as the game progresses.

Eamon66d ago (Edited 66d ago )

There has been an titanic leap in the quality of storytelling in this genre of videogames during the decades since the days of Castlevania and Metroid. The first 3 Metroids relied heavily on environments to do the storytelling, and even back then, the story told in the environments were not anything more significant than a backdrop. But, we could argue this was due to the limitation of the hardware.

What the Metroid games did do well back then was mood and atmosphere. Metroid 2 made you feel like you were exploring and hunting something super dangerous. Super Metroid was very dark and haunting. Metroid Fusion kept you feeling a sense of dread.

It's a shame that the narrative of Metroid Dread can't compare to games like Hollow Knight. Hollow Knight, obviously inspired by the esoteric storytelling of Dark Souls, is one of the most immersive Metroidvania games out there. I feel part of what made it great were its 2D sprites and background - something Metroid Dread doesn't have. I would argue that Nintendo needs a radical change in art direction in the next 2D metroid.

However, in terms of gameplay, Metroid Dread does stand up there as one of the best in the genre. Sure, it has the old trend of Samus losing her same old abilities. But there are plenty of new ones that easily compliment the Metroid formula. Not to mention, Dread is by far the fastest Metroid game. I remember thinking how quick Metroid Samus Returns remake was, but Dread beats it easily.

My only real qualm with Metroid Dread were the EMMIs. The fact you respawn at the beginning of the EMMI zones eliminates any "dread" the player would feel. Because you knew the consequences of getting caught by one weren't so bad. Also, the method to destroy the EMMIs became a bit repetitive. Sure, some required some thinking about location and distance, but ultimately it became the same: Use the Omega Stream to open up its head, then charge up Omega Cannon to destroy it.

Really, there should never have been "EMMI zones" and instead had it like Alien Isolation or Resident Evil 2: An AI that chooses when to come out at random and patrols every part of the map except for a few "safe zones." That would have made the game feel like "dread." As you get stronger, the EMMIs may feel less of a threat, but each EMMI has to have a unique way to beating it that you need to figure out from subtle clues in the area map.

oldenjon65d ago (Edited 65d ago )

After seeing all the ways in which speed runners have broken this game in such a short time, I realized that Dread was basically designed for them. It's designed to help you traverse it as quickly as possible and doesn't do a lot for old fans of the franchise or those who enjoyed the process of getting lost and exploring every nook and cranny of the map, and the souls-like feeling of accomplishment when you figured where to go / what to do. The environment music, and enemy design isn't notable in any way IMO, and why should it be? They want you to blaze through it as quickly as possible.

I agree EMMIs would have been cooler if they patrolled entire areas instead of designated zones. The map could have been designed with obstacles and places to hide too. The ideas in Dread had so much potential.

Eamon65d ago

To be honest, all serious Metroidvanias are designed with speedrunning in mind. That's part of the appeal of the genre. I'm guessing your gripe is about the endings based on completion time rather than item collection. Yeh, I agree. I've only played Dread once and I got 100% on it and was surprised that I didn't unlock all endings. That definitely wasn't a good change.

I'm not sure what you mean about not doing the old style of getting lost in exploration. I agree the music was very uninspired. The enemies are fine, and I think the halfway twist of bringing x-parasite varians of enemies was a good idea.

Despite the criticism, I did really enjoy the game and I definitely consider Metroid Dread a 8-9/10 game.

oldenjon65d ago (Edited 65d ago )

Super is my point of reference since, and you seem to agree, handheld entries Fusion and 2 aren't limited by the platforms they're designed for and almost like a different genre of game (more linear and story driven). Almost all the enemies can be trivialized or one-shotted with the parry move. Furthermore, everything is vulnerable to screw attack which comes early and is OP compared to Super; Screw attack is completely optional and the last ability you get in that game. There an entire class of enemy in Super that you don't really even see in this game. Samus eater, ripper, yapping maw, etc. Obstacles enemies that are there to make your journey more perilous, obstacles that make traversal more difficult. In super screw attack isn't always helpful there, but in Dread you can basically power through anything with screw attack, even bosses.

You don't really get lost in this game. You're basically guided to the end game, and when level design doesn't facilitate that they give you portals. I don't think early metroids were designed for speed running at all, not in the modern sense. Dread seems to have been designed with exploitable glitches in mind. It doesn't have the depth that Super has, and that's why the absence of good music and atmosphere isn't a gripe for most people IMO. They're expectations are more in line with the modern idea of speed running and modern metroidvania design so MS can get away creating a world that doesn't ask you to spend a long time figuring it out or just soaking it in. It's like people expect a successor to Fusion, not Super and what MS gave us for $60 is kind of a cop out / rip off IMO.

Eamon65d ago (Edited 65d ago )

Parry has been controversial since the remake of Metroid 2. I do think the flash visual cue makes it far too easy. It also feels like they're now easier to pull off in Dread too. Personally, I think it compliments the speedy gameplay - especially as you can now do a parry dash too. Ideally, Mercury Steam should have used specific enemy attack animation as a visual cue for parrying rather than simply wait for the flash - similar to Souls-like games. But I think this was done to avoid making the game more difficult. That being said, you 100% need the parry for the speedy gameplay. Since you run, jump and shoot faster than past Metroid games, enemies therefore need to attack you faster. Parrying was a way to balance that.

I also agree with your point on Screw Attack. It's far too OP to be a required upgrade. Should have been difficult to obtain and optional. I don't think it should be nerfed however.

Regarding enemies, I mean there are loads of new enemies in this game. Part of the reason you won't see a lot of enemies from Super is because it's not set on Zebes. It's the same reason why enemies were quite different in Metroid 2. There are a variety of enemies in Dread, but because of speedy 2D gameplay, you aren't spending too much time with them, so a lot of attacks may feel no different among the enemies. One thing for sure that Dread exceeds in compared to past games are the bosses. The bosses might be the best part of Dread, actually.

In terms of level design, I would say Dread is the most labyrinthine of all the Metroids. The areas aren't so inter-connected but they are seriously maze-like. I can barely remember where I am 90% of the time, so I have to keep referring to the map to know where I go. I completely disagree that you're constantly guided throughout the game. ADAM only speaks to you after significant moments occur (usually after bosses or EMMIs or obtaining an important ability). The cutscenes are less dialogue-y than Fusion apart from the 1-2 exposition scenes. There aren't that many portals and honestly, what do you expect them to do when your levels are extremely maze-like. And the portals, in my experience, weren't useful most of the time. Apart from when you are forced to use them, I only ever used them during when I was trying to get 100% items before the final boss.

I don't think people were even expecting a 2D Metroid lol. It took nearly 20 years. Dread went through several development shutdowns due to not meeting internal goals. I'm just happy 2D Metroid is alive again and that it's currently the highest selling Metroid ever. If this encourages Nintendo to innovate and provide us with an even greater experience in Metroid 6, then keep on doing it.

oldenjon65d ago (Edited 65d ago )

If you didn’t notice boss design is heavily hollow knight influenced. The spear wielding torizos are basically mantis lords and hornet. They reuse those bosses way too much imo. I think you need to replay the game because it very much guides you to the portals and to end game. You do have to pay attention to environmental cues and map markers cause it’s pretty much designed so that the most recently acquired ability is the key to the next area/goal. I think the maze like quality of the map is just lazy one trick pinky level design that doesn’t allow much environmental variety and necessitates portals.

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Sciurus_vulgaris66d ago (Edited 66d ago )

I think Metroid Dread did a good job of wrapping up the overall narrative arch of the series so far. One should keep in mind Metroid is a Nintendo series. Nintendo as a whole doesn’t focus heavily on narrative and story.

TheDoomedGuy65d ago

Metroid is first a foremost an action adventure metroidvania game. Story is secondary so its not really relevant.
Something like halo has the bigger issue with both story and gunplay suffering with every iteration. They cant seem to nail a good experience. Metroid Dread doesnt suffer any such thing.

oldenjon65d ago (Edited 65d ago )

Total nonsense. Metroid and Super Metroid do environmental and atmospheric story telling that is just as integral to the experience as the action is. Setting, enemies, music etc. are all story elements.

TheDoomedGuy65d ago

Obviously not what I was talking about

oldenjon65d ago

You said story isn’t relevant, and that Metroid’s sorry doesn’t suffer which is not true in my opinion.

TheDoomedGuy65d ago

And by story I'm not talking environmental, atmospheric and sound storytelling. I'm talking straight on storytelling. Obviously. So as i said...not what I was talking about

oldenjon65d ago (Edited 65d ago )

No you said story wasn't relevant. Even without a straightforward narrative the story is still very much present and relevant in early metroid games. It's not all combat like you implied and would actually be boring AF without that use of storytelling. The story presented in early games is literally what makes metroid metroid and is why you see all sequels iterating on that story without considering an overt narrative. If story were not relevant, people would probably like Other M more than they do and metroid would be replaced by some spiritual successor.

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giveyerheadawobble65d ago (Edited 65d ago )

This is like saying Mario Odyssey doesn't save Mario from decades of bad story telling.

Who the fuck is writing this crap? Since when has a game like Metroid been about a narrative? It's always been about it's amazing atmosphere and stellar game design. Those two things, when done right, tell its own narrative.

Jackhass65d ago

Just because they're both Nintendo games doesn't mean they're exactly the same. Metroid has actual continuity between entries, a character with an actual backstory, there have been attempts to do more in-depth stories. It's fair to criticize Nintendo on them.