Metroid Dread review: Day of the Dread
Metroid Dread sees a return for the 2D action-platformer style of yesteryear. Here’s what we think of it.
Readers like you help support.lint. When you make a purchase using links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read
It’s been a staggering 19 years since we last had a 2D Metroid game. Metroid Fusion for the Game Boy Advance. and while we’ve had plenty of offshoots and the superb Metroid Prime titles since, it’s good to see the series return to its roots at last.
Metroid Dread is, in fact, a direct sequel to that 2002 GBA outing, but don’t worry if you’ve never had a chance to play it. While it’s also the end to a five-part story arc that started with the 1986 original, newcomers will find it easy to jump onboard, even at this late stage. Well, they will if they’re not expecting this game to be a walk in the park.
Our quick take
Metroid Dread is a much-welcome return to the spirit of the original series, with the chops to do it proud for both newcomers and fans alike.
It can be frustrating, especially with progression paths not always clear, but the reward is more often than not worth the hours of head-scratching.
Yes, the game can be fiendishly tough, especially with later boss battles, but that’s the attraction of the genre in the first place. And, the clue’s rather in the name really.
It isn’t for everyone, but those with a hankering for a challenge will lap it up for sure. It is, in that especially English expression, dreadfully good.
Dawn of the Dread
Indeed, the plot is largely hokum and you get a fairly lengthy explanation at the start anyway. Our Hero Samus travels to planet ZDR after reports point to the villains of Fusion. the X parasite. are reemerging there. However, things take a turn for the worse, and she ends up trapped inside a labyrinthian base with most of her power-ups and weapons stripped back to basics.
The game essentially tasks you with escaping the base, while finding out why you were summoned in the first place. And you have to replenish your arsenal along the way. standard action-platformer fare, you’d think. Except it’s far from standard. this is Metroid, one-half of the Metroidvania tag given to many that lie in the series’ shadow. It has rock-hard bosses, cunning puzzles, and more than one big, new surprise along the way.
The Walking Dread
One of those comes in the form of the E.M.M.I robots sent to ZDR ahead of you to also discover what’s going on. Unfortunately, they seem to have become corrupted after arriving and have turned into deadly guardians ready to turn you into a Samus kebab.
This adds a sense of stealth to the game that reminds us of Alien: Isolation somewhat. If an E.M.M.I. sees or hears you. i.e. when jumping or firing a weapon. it will chase you around the map. Luckily, each of the robots is trapped within a certain zone, so you can evade them, but that in itself is a puzzle to be solved.
Also new to Metroid Dread are a couple of new abilities for Samus. She can now slide, to get through small gaps and under enemies. She can also point her gun to any angle, which aims through the left thumbstick.
This means you’ll initially have a lot of controls to get used to, but the gameplay is all the better for it in the end. Youngsters might struggle with the complexity, though, so that PEGI ‘Teen’ rating isn’t just there for the heck of it.
Day of the Dread
To be honest, the first few hours of play are likely to fox you generally. As well as Samus’ new moves, developer Mercury Steam hides some important aspects of progression behind shootable blocks that aren’t always obvious. In addition, a lot of room navigation relies on retreading the same path over and over, and with enemies regenerating each visit it can get a little frustrating.
But, once you start to pick up new abilities and powers, the game picks up pace somewhat and, we have to admit, there’s no better feeling than finally finding a new room or floor switch that unlocks your path. Until you discover one of the bosses, that is.
The combat system is excellent in Metroid Dread, with Samus’ new directional aim and the option to adjust ammo type (from blasts to rockets) by simply holding down the right bumper. It works well, is fluid and, even in handheld mode, feels intuitive. However, like most Metroidvania games, boss battles in this instance are rock hard.
Dread or Alive
The bosses generally require everything you’ve learned so far, plus every newfound ability, and a close study of attack patterns and vulnerabilities. Get all of these right at the same time and you’ll win. Don’t and you’ll die. The latter will happen a lot, especially as you get to grips with the sequence of events, but is par for the course really. It certainly adds to the gameplay time.
Metroid Dread review
Metroid Dread creates a palpable level of tension that we hope to see more of in Samus’s future adventures. However, we couldn’t shake the underlying feeling that the Metroid formula, as a whole, needs a severe shake-up. Metroid Dread certainly has its moments where it dares to break the mold but, all too often, it resorts to the same tactics that helped the series first stand out in 1986. Nintendo single-handedly invented an entire sub-genre when it released Metroid all those decades ago, but sadly Samus’s latest mission fails to further her legacy in any meaningful way.
- E.M.M.I. is an unsettling foe
- Challenging boss fights
- Countless secrets to discover
- – Easy to get lost at times
- – The structure feels far too familiar
- – Long load times
Why you can trust TechRadar
We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.
Platform: Nintendo Switch OLED Time played: 8 hours
Metroid Dread is the very definition of refinement. Over the last few decades, Nintendo has gradually improved the rock-solid foundations established by the first entry in the series way back in 1986, and, for the most part, it’s worked.
Metroid Dread feels like a culmination of everything that we’ve come to expect. Samus begins her mission stranded on a hostile, labyrinthine alien planet, stripped of her core abilities. You’ll need to explore Samus’s temporary new home, picking up power-ups and new weaponry as you go that gradually let you access new and previously unreachable areas.
As your arsenal grows over time, new gameplay possibilities arise. You’ll be able to morph into a ball that lets you squeeze through tight spaces, temporarily avoid detection by activating a unique ability called the Phantom Cloak and survive in harsher climates. But it’s a slow and steady climb until you reach the peak of Samus’s potential, and a familiar summit awaits.
After receiving an unknown video message from Planet ZDR, bounty hunter Samus Aran embarks on a new mission to discover the transmission’s source. Upon arrival, though, it quickly transpires that Samus has been lured to the planet by a formidable foe.
Samus barely survives her confrontation with this mysterious new threat and subsequently finds herself trapped in the depths of the planet’s labyrinthine-like world. To make matters worse, she’s also lost all of her abilities.
But that’s not the only bad news for our protagonist. Not only does she face overwhelming odds in making it back to her ship alive, but she also has to deal with a brand-new and terrifying enemy known as the E.M.M.I.
Once controlled by the Federation, the E.M.M.I. are research robots designed to capture field samples and extract their DNA. They’re incredibly mobile, well-protected thanks to their armor plating that’s made out of the strongest substance in the universe. But now, they’ve gone rogue.
These mechanical menaces stalk the many maze-like areas of Planet ZDR and will actively search for Samus should she enter one of their patrol zones. If the E.M.M.I. detects you, your only chance of survival is to high-tail it out of there. If you get caught, you’ll have two split-second opportunities to escape, but it usually ends in instant death.
The E.M.M.I. are invulnerable to Samus’s attacks, even when you gain new abilities, and can only be overcome when you obtain the Omega Blaster upgrade: a temporary, powerful weapon capable of destroying the E.M.M.I.
Once you have the Omega Blaster to hand, you can melt off the E.M.M.I’s protected face-shield via a hail of plasma bullets and expose its weak point. Charge up the Omega Blaster, which changes the player’s perspective to an over-the-shoulder camera view, and you can stop the encroaching E.M.M.I for good. Well, one of them, at least.
Escaping the E.M.M.I. is a fun twist on the game’s usual formula, and Samus has various means to evade them, such as the Phantom Cloak, which lets her turn invisible for a short period. The E.M.M.I do become less threatening once you’ve been caught and sent to the ‘Game Over’ screen more than a few times, but the game would be far weaker without their inclusion.
Defeating the E.M.M.I. is a necessary task if Samus is to reach her ship safely, but you’ll also need to search for new abilities and power-ups across Planet ZDR’s many rooms and various biomes. Once obtained, specific power-ups and skills can help you reach previously inaccessible areas. Backtracking, marking your map, and checking for secrets are all part of the process. You’ll need to scour every nook and cranny for Missile and Energy tank upgrades and ultimately seek out abilities that can help you progress.
Build back better
As superbly polished and refined as it is, Metroid Dread feels like the series has reached a critical juncture. Yes, it’s lovely to play another side-scrolling, 2.5D Metroid game again (though Metroid: Samus Returns on Nintendo 3DS arguably filled that desire in 2017). But it’s hard not to feel more than a tinge of disappointment that nothing’s fundamentally changed since those halcyon days when we first set foot on the planet Zebes on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
That’s not to say Metroid’s satisfying gameplay loop is broken, per se. Critically-acclaimed titles like Hollow Knight, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps have all successfully followed the ‘Metroidvania’ blueprint to aplomb. The problem is, those titles did considerably more to further the genre as a whole than everyone’s favorite bounty hunter has in recent years.
Metroid Dread may provoke the same sort of reaction as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword did for many players, then: that the series ultimately requires a Breath of the Wild-like reinvention. Perhaps that’s something Metroid Prime 4 will provide.
However, if you’ve been craving a classic new Metroid title with a couple of pleasing twists, Metroid Dread won’t disappoint. For those who are tired of retreading familiar ground, temper your expectations accordingly.
The Best Nintendo Switch Games to Play in 2023
All the best games you need to play on Nintendo Switch.
The Nintendo Switch has a world-class library of games
Despite being a little older now, the Nintendo Switch is still arguably the best video game console on the market. With PS5 and Xbox Series X shortages still an issue, the Switch is the most easily accessible console out there.
The Switch OLED is our pick of the bunch, but the Nintendo Switch Lite is also available if you’re so inclined.
The Nintendo Switch has one of the best, most varied and deepest libraries of any console out there. In short: There’s a lot to choose from.
Here are our choices for the best games on Nintendo Switch.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Following Breath of the Wild.- in many people’s eyes the best video game ever made.- was always going to be nigh on impossible. But Nintendo has done it. A completely brand new game, with multiple quality of life improvements and some revolutionary departures, Tears of the Kingdom is another slam dunk. It could be even better than Breath of the Wild. Almost certainly the best game of 2023 so far.
This is the game. The best video game. In 2002, when Metroid Prime was first released, it felt like a game air dropped from the future. In 2023, with this incredible new remaster, it somehow still feels futuristic.
The upgraded visuals are subtle, but worthwhile. The all-new controls are simply phenomenal. For me, personally, Metroid Prime is one of the greatest video games ever made. It’s so exciting that folks get to experience it all over again.
Super Mario Odyssey
Here is a list of trash words that don’t come close to describing Super Mario Odyssey : inventive, dazzling, Smart, seamless, joyful, creative.
Super Mario Odyssey is a Nintendo game that continues in the spirit of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. All bets are off, everything you thought you knew about Mario has been reinvented. But here’s what remains: perfectly tuned, precision gameplay that feels incredible every second your hands are on the controller.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild was only the consensus best game of 2017. The game many believe is the best ever made. The game that somehow managed to actually outsell the Nintendo Switch itself on launch.
Still no idea how that actually happened, but it did.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a legitimate masterpiece that strips back the open-world genre to its core elements and rewrites its DNA for pure adventure.
It’s a world alive with surprise and dense with detail. An incredible, milestone achievement.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
It’s not quite as good as Pokémon Arceus, but Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is still pretty damn good. It’s a more traditional Pokémon title, and struggles on the aging Nintendo Switch hardware, but if you can get past those failings, you’ll love it.
Mario Rabbids Sparks of Hope
The first Mario Rabbids was a shockingly good, massively successful turn-based strategy game. For a genre that’s traditionally been quite impenetrable, particularly for younger audiences, that was quite the feat.
But Mario Rabbids Sparks of Hope outperforms its predecessor in almost every way. It’s legitimately one of the best new games released on the Nintendo Switch.
Splatoon rules. It’s ruled since day one, and the latest sequel, Splatoon 3, is no different. Not much has changed in the series, but the high concept is still intoxicating. It’s a first-person shooter with a twist: You can shoot your opponents, sure, but to win the game you have to shoot the environment. With paint! It’s a great, slightly less violent entry point for kids. But it’s fun for adults as well!
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Imagine Breath of the Wild crossed with Pokémon and that’s pretty much Pokémon Legends: Arceus. It’s the first properly open world Pokémon game fulfilling the wishes of many a fan. The visuals.- both the aesthetic and the execution.- are pretty lackluster, but there’s something incredibly compelling about Pokémon Legends: Arceus. It’s different, and a unique leap forward for the series.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is very, very good. Featuring the biggest lineup of characters yet (hence the “Ultimate”), it also has almost certainly the best single-player “campaign” mode of any Smash Bros. game to date. Also.- it’s Smash Bros.
How are you going to own a Nintendo Switch and not pick up this game?
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 was initially released on the Wii U. It was great then. It’s even better now with all the additional content.
Not too much has changed, but Mario Kart 8 is about as definitive as it gets. It’s stacked with playable characters, inventive tracks and brand new features. It remains the most compelling multiplayer game on the Nintendo Switch.
Neon White is maybe the strangest genre mashup ever. A first-person speed runner with card-game elements, it’s a game that shouldn’t make sense on paper, but in practice it’s already one of the best games of 2022. If you’re looking for something extremely cutting edge, unlike anything you’ve ever played, you need to check out Neon White.
Portal: Companion Collection
This brand new collection pairs up the first two Portal games into one collection. If you haven’t played either of these games, head directly to your Nintendo Switch and buy them immediately.
Both are peerless classics, but Portal 2, especially, is one of the best video games ever made. It might even be the best, period. A mind-bending puzzler with genuinely hilarious comedy elements, this is as good as video games get.
A game about unpacking boxes and moving into a series of new house and apartments doesn’t sound like game of the year material, but it somehow is. Unpacking is brilliantly made and perfectly executed. It’s also. surprisingly emotional. Get on it.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Folks, in these dark and troubled days, it’s time to disappear into a new world, get a virtual mortgage and work your ass off to pay that sucker off quick Smart.
It’s not every day.- or even every year.- we get a brand new Metroid game, so we need to appreciate Metroid Dread for the unicorn it is.
A continuation of the 2D Metroid Canon that includes classics like Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, Metroid Dread is a fantastic entry into a legendary franchise. It looks especially slick on the new OLED Switch. Get on it!
Hollow Knight might be one of the best games available on the Nintendo Switch. It’s a disturbingly well-designed platformer in the vein of Super Metroid. But it’s more than that. The atmosphere, the audio design, the visuals.
Dear Lord, this game is a stone-cold classic. Play it now.
Return of the Obra Dinn
Return of the Obra Dinn is the most recent game from Lucas Pope, the man behind Papers, Please.
It’s a genuine, proper masterpiece. An investigation story, essentially.- you arrive on the Obra Dinn, a ship where almost all the crewmates have died. Via flashbacks you try to piece together the story of what happened. It’s strange, innovative and completely unforgettable.
Super Mario 3D World Bowser’s Fury
In my humble opinion, Super Mario 3D World is probably the greatest game for young kids ever made. Particularly if you’re a parent who wants to play alongside them. It’s simple, no reading required. The levels are well designed, open and forgiving.
It also rules in every possible sense.
But when you add Bowser’s Fury.- an experimental Mario title that could give us an insight into where Nintendo will take the series next.- this package is unbeatable. Play Super Mario 3D World with your kids, play Bowser’s Fury when they go to bed. Perfect.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s Mansion 3 was one of the best games of 2019. It is a video game clearly made with love: gorgeous environments, pitch-perfect animations. Everything about it feels tactile and precise. Maybe the best Nintendo-made game of the year.
Celeste is a video game that makes you want to lodge your controller in your TV.- in a good way.
Featuring incredible level design and flawlessly tuned precision platforming, Celeste is one of the best games of its type ever released. It’s Smart, charming and dense with content.
It’s also perfect for the Nintendo Switch. You’ll be hurling obscenities at this game on public transport, and you’ll love every second of it.
Into The Breach
A very good turn-based strategy game by the creators of Faster Than Light. An intricate, intelligent creation that demands problem solving from the player in interesting ways.
The traditional words used to describe Dead Cells are “rogue-like” and “metroidvania.” Both common genres, but Dead Cells is a game with a unique conceit: You will play, you will die. But in Dead Cells you get to keep your upgrades and then restart with those upgrades, meaning you slowly progress through the game more easily as you play. Very cool.
Hades, an isometric rogue-like from Supergiant Games, came out of nowhere in 2020 and was a very strong contender for game of the year.
Why? Part of it is the combat.- which is fluid, weighty and tactile.- but its evolving storyline, which ties the idea of constant death into Hades’ narrative, really pushes it over the edge. This is a rogue-like that people who don’t like rogue-likes can enjoy.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Ever wanted to swallow a car and then.- as a result.- transform into that car and absorb the abilities of a car? Boy, do I have a video game for you.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a recent addition to this list. It rules. It’s the first game to feature 3D gameplay and it might be the best Kirby game ever? Definitely worth checking out. A great game for young kids especially.
Untitled Goose Game
Untitled Goose Game is a game about being a goose.
And not just any goose, a horrible goose. An asshole goose that makes life extremely difficult for everyone around it. Untitled Goose Game has absolutely taken the world by storm. Even Chrissie Teigen got obsessed with it.
But is it good? Yes. Very good. This one should absolutely be on any and all Nintendo Switch consoles.
Baba Is You
Baba Is You is a puzzle game that will break every part of your brain. It’s a puzzle game that forces you to literally rewrite the rules of the game in order to complete tasks.
If that sounds complicated, it’s because it is complicated. In a good way.
It’s also the kind of game that will haunt you, sort of like The Witness. You will be thinking about puzzles while you do the dishes, while you’re driving the car. You’ll scream “eureka!” Then maybe break a dish or crash your car.
This game is dangerous for your health.
The OlliOlli series has been low-key fantastic for years now, but OlliOlli World is its final form. 2022 was a fantastic for video games, and OlliOlli World was up there with the best of them.
Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter Rise is perhaps the most accessible Monster Hunter yet. It’s also very good.
And at this point, the game is only available on Nintendo Switch. Get on it.
Enjoy games like Zelda: A Link to the Past and Earthbound? Of course you do. You’re a reasonable adult with great taste.
In that case you have to try Eastward, a new top-down game in the vein of every 16-bit RPG you ever loved. It’s slow-paced and takes a while to get going, but it’s well worth the investment.
A quirky 2D slasher game with a retro aesthetic. But here’s the twist: The Messenger begins as a simple hack and slash game in the 8-bit style, but later you get to travel to the future, where the game evolves into a 16-bit style metroidvania.
Pokémon Sword Shield
Look, regardless of controversy, Pokémon is Pokémon, and Pokémon Sword Shield is a good Pokémon.
Don’t believe the online hype: This is one of the best games in the series. It’s also great to see Pokémon being available on Nintendo’s premium console. Definitely check it out.
Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Maker 2 doesn’t quite feel made for the Nintendo Switch in the way it was perfect for the Wii U, but it’s still a fantastic piece of software. It makes level design accessible for everyone and has a massively beefed-up single-player mode.
That’s not to mention the endless replay value that comes with the insane user-created levels. Check Super Mario Maker 2 out for sure.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
It’s overpriced, but if you love Zelda, and you loved Link’s Awakening. you have to play this faithful, lovingly adapted remake. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done.
Paper Mario: The Origami King
If you’ve played a Paper Mario game before, you probably know the drill. The series is set in a 2D “paper” version of Mario, a theme used to create all sorts of Hyper-stylized mechanics and slick visual elements. It’s all laced up with a self-awareness and charm that make the series irresistible to Nintendo fans.
Paper Mario: The Origami King is no exception. Well worth a look.
Mario Tennis Aces
Mario is pretty good at sport. As is Nintendo when it puts its mind to it. Mario Tennis Aces gives us what we haven’t had for a remarkably long time.- a good tennis game.
I mean, imagine being an adult, growing up with Sonic. They announce a new game, and you expect it to be bad because Sonic has been bad for like 20 years.
Then they drop Sonic Mania. A game that takes everything good about Sonic, preserves it and then updates it perfectly in a seamless modern interpretation that has no right being this good.
The Nintendo Switch OLED Model and ‘Metroid Dread’ Are a Killer Combination
While not exactly the most dazzling moniker, the newly released Nintendo Switch OLED Model is at least upfront about what it is. It’s not some hypothetical “Nintendo Switch Pro,” but it’s also not to be confused with the base Switch model or the more portable Nintendo Switch Lite. Instead, it’s a new Switch with a bigger, better, brighter screen, and that’s its chief selling point. That isn’t, however, all it has to offer.
It’s Not All About the OLED Screen
Ok, but it’s mostly about the OLED screen—especially if, like me, you spend the bulk of your Switch playtime in handheld mode.
The titular OLED is a marked improvement over that of the original’s LCD, coming in at a sizable 7 inches compared to the Switch’s 6.2-inch screen. And it positively dwarfs the 5.5-inch screen size of the Switch Lite, which has been my preferred model since its 2019 release.
The OLED screen offers better color and contrast, especially when it comes to those inky blacks and sapphire blues. Most impressively, this model integrates the updated panel without noticeably changing the classic Nintendo Switch footprint.
There’s a very slight size difference, but nothing you’d notice without putting your old Switch and your new OLED Switch side by side. Instead, it increases the screen real estate by reducing the size of the bezel, and that is something that’s instantly obvious.
To truly take advantage of the OLED’s responsiveness, though, you’ll want to make one tiny adjustment to your System Settings. A new Menu option called Console-Screen Colors is available only on the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, allowing you to change from Standard to Vivid. The latter, obviously, is preferred for a better visual experience.
A Sound Investment
While the other often-noted OLED system upgrade—a modest bump from 32GB of internal storage to 64GB—likely won’t make a ton of difference to avid Switch gamers (who’ve surely already invested in a high-capacity microSD card for downloadable titles), don’t discount the new speakers.
Though Nintendo of America is simply touting this upgrade as “enhanced audio,” recent teardowns have confirmed that I can believe my ears; the Nintendo Switch OLED Model is noticeably louder in handheld and tabletop modes.
The reason for this, it turns out, is that the OLED Model speakers are now enclosed and forward-firing. In a recent Ask the Developer segment at Nintendo.com, Deputy General Manager Toru Yamashita explains that this structural change was actually due to the size of the OLED panel itself, which left less room inside the console for other components.
The designers had to get creative, and gamers certainly ended up benefitting as a result.
Get Up, Stand Up
A common gripe about the Switch’s tabletop mode was the fairly insubstantial kickstand. While third-party peripheral manufactures came up with any number of novel alternatives, Nintendo itself decided to remedy the problem with the OLED Model redesign.
Now, rather than a thin, single-point stand, the entire lower half of the OLED Switch’s back shell can be employed as a wonderfully robust kickstand. This allows you to find the best possible viewing angle, whether playing alone or with your friends and family.
And though I was initially nervous about it collapsing mid-game, it has genuinely proven itself to be sturdy and dependable.
While all the features I’ve described thus far (excepting the new 64GB of internal storage) have mainly benefited the Switch in handheld or tabletop mode, the new OLED Model does have a nice surprise for those who prefer docked play.
Previous versions—both original Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite—were Wi-Fi only out of the box. This was fine for most players, but the more competitive among us tend to look upon wireless online gaming with mistrust and no small amount of disdain.
Hori has long provided a licensed Wired Internet Adaptor, which my 16-year-old swears by for Smash Ultimate online play, for around 30. However, this feature is now baked into the new Switch OLED Model ecosystem.
Nestled inside the new OLED Model dock, alongside its AC power connector and HDMI output, is a dedicated LAN port. This, of course, means that the dock’s two exterior USB-C ports are its only additional connectors, but that’s a small price to pay for added network stability.
Survival Horror… in Space
It’s no accident that Metroid Dread dropped alongside the Switch OLED Model. This ambitious throwback side-scroller—the fifth and final chapter of the original Metroid story arc—is a veritable showpiece for the new OLED tech, and, as it turns out, a great pick-up for Halloween.
Taking place after the events in GBA standout Metroid Fusion, Dread begins with the revelation that the X parasite still survives on planet ZDR. Having lost contact with its seven Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifiers robots dispatched planetside to investigate, the Galactic Federation turns to our favorite space-faring bounty hunter (sorry, Mando) to get to the bottom of this deepening mystery.
In true Samus Aran fashion, our girl almost immediately loses her suit’s abilities and spends the remainder of the game rediscovering her powers while traversing across various hostile environments. Like you do.
Alongside old chestnuts like missiles and bombs and various beams, Samus once again employs the free aim (mapped to the L shoulder buttons) and melee counterattacks (mapped to X) pioneered in 3DS remake Samus Returns, but there is something wonderfully distinct about Metroid Dread.
First and foremost, it looks phenomenal on the Nintendo Switch OLED Model. Those deep blacks and reds really pop—especially in Vivid mode. Furthermore, the title’s controls have been honed to a razor’s edge. Not only does combat feel responsive and visceral, but movement, especially the new slide ability, is perfectly immersive.
All this, coupled with the fact that Dread is the first brand new 2D Metroid title in nearly two decades, already makes the release a big deal, but the most noteworthy element is how a game from a series that literally helped us define a classic action-adventure subgenre (Metroidvania) itself dabbles in brand new territory—survival horror.
From Alien to Event Horizon, science fiction is no stranger to scares, and Metroid Dread brings those in spades. The compromised EMMI droids each have defined domains on ZDR. They are clearly marked by special entranceways, and that’s a good thing; these robotic trackers are unrelentingly deadly, and they have their sights set on Samus.
While in an EMMI Zone, Samus must resort to stealth, plotting and sneaking to circumvent her enemy, but still remain ready to cut and run at the drop of a hat. Stronger and faster than our heroine, each EMMI is a force to be reckoned with, and capture means certain death—almost.
There is a painfully narrow window during an EMMI encounter where Samus can use her melee counter to stun her attacker and escape. (Think of it like the quick-time events in a Resident Evil or Tomb Raider game.) But given how hard it is to execute this counter, your best option is always to retreat out of the robot’s territory.
This adds an additional element of… well, dread to the game. In a moment, Samus Aran can go from blasting countless oversized enemies to fleeing from a solitary foe, and this dynamic makes the walking-on-eggshells portions of Metroid Dread‘s gameplay also some of the series’ finest to date.
After you’ve explored planet ZDR in all its horrifying glory, you’ll no doubt want to see what other Nintendo Switch titles look like on the OLED Model. Personally, I haven’t yet encountered anything that hasn’t benefitted from the facelift—though the retro graphics of something like the Castlevania Advance Collection arguably don’t exactly need the fresh coat of paint.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is another game that Nintendo has been hyping during the OLED launch and with good reason. The depth of color and the overall visual response is so buttery smooth it’s reminded me why this is still one of the finest Switch titles on the market.
Though not as much of a visual feast, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is also served well by the OLED, with the larger screen somehow making my island feel that much more immersive. (Especially after spending so many hours playing it on a Switch Lite!)
And don’t write off management sims and visual novels either just because of their comparatively low polycount. Shrouded Isle, which had thus far proven impossible for me to play in anything but docked mode because of its minuscule on-screen text, is finally accessible to me on the go thanks to the OLED Model!
A Premium Upgrade
Whether or not the new Nintendo Switch OLED Model is worth the 350 investment for your household depends on a lot of factors. Families who tend to spend most of their Nintendo Switch playtime in docked mode around the den television, for example, may not exactly reap the benefits of this new system; your original Switch is likely already a perfect match for your family’s more casual gaming exploits.
Likewise, if you’re in the market for multiple Switch systems for several younger players, the Switch Lite may make more economical sense. And, further, if all you’re really looking for is that LAN port, the aforementioned Hori dongle or the OLED Model’s updated dock (which Nintendo plans to begin selling on its own soon) would easily suffice.
If, however, you’re looking for the very best handheld gameplay the Switch can offer, if you’re really interested in passing that Joy-Con and sharing the Switch with your friends in tabletop mode, and if you truly want to have the most enjoyable portable gaming experience of this console generation, there’s simply nothing like the Nintendo Switch OLED Model.
Review and promotional materials provided by Nintendo of America. This post contains affiliate links. These EMMIs are destroying me—please send help!