Posting on a 30-day delay to avoid spoilers for those who care.
The mail brought me Metroid Dread yesterday (10/14/2021).
I couldn’t rightly believe it. I found a copy in new condition on ebay for $49.99, which is $10 off retail. For a brand new release of Nintendo’s #3 A-list franchise. I expected some kind of scam, but it arrived quickly and is a real, legit copy of the game as far as I can tell. It’s not a collector’s edition or whatever, but I don’t believe in that stuff.
I played it for an hour or two and it is very good. So far I’m just figuring out the controls and what to do.
SPOILER WARNING (such as it is)
The game starts out with a lot of exposition and cutscenes. I learn that the Metroid species is extinct, and the X-parasite organism is thought to be mostly extinct, but then we learn that one has been spotted.
The metroids were created by a race of aliens called the Chozo as a bio-weapon. They drain the life energy from targets, and Samus helped wipe them out in earlier chapters of the Metroid series.
Metroids are the only known predator of the X-parasite organism. X-parasites are bio-mimic, and can merge with hosts, sample their DNA, and copy them. In a previous Metroid, Samus was infected with the X-parasite, and had to defeat one that had all the powers of Samus’s fully powered armor suit.
Samus had previously been augmented with Metroid DNA, I guess in the game Super Metroid when the last surviving Metroid sacrifices its life by replenishing Samus during the final boss battle against the Mother Brain. This was what enabled Samus to survive being infected by the X-parasite.
That’s all preface to the current adventure.
You’re going to some planet called Z-something… ZDR. I had to look it up. There’s a mission there, it’s risky, and the bounty promised for success isn’t worth the risk (according to the cutscene).
As you’re going in for a landing on the planet, suddenly the narrative cuts to you waking up on the ground on the planet ZDR. You relive an encounter with a large alien robot, who we find out are called EMMIs. Your weapons are ineffective and it kicks your ass. You contact your ship via radio and it tells you that you need to get back to the surface of the planet, and that most of your powers and abilities are offline so you’re weak and survival is a priority.
So far I’ve explored the starting area a bit. There’s a lot of places I can’t figure out how to get to. I don’t have a morph ball ability so I can’t get into low passages, but they give you a slide. The slide works for low passages if you’re on the same level as them, but there are a lot of low passages that are off the ground, and in traditional Metroid games you’d morph into your ball mode and lay a bomb, and let it boost you up into the passage and roll in, but in this game you don’t get the ability to do that yet, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to — presumably I will have to backtrack and get into them at a later time.
So far the non-EMMI enemies seem like pushovers. They’re just sort of there, to give the game world a sense of being inhabited. They’re not hostile unless you get really close to them, and you can pretty much ignore them or shoot them at your leisure.
I encountered a damaged EMMI, and ran from it, got to a room where they gave me a temporary weapons boost, and introduced a charge and aim mechanic which you use to defeat it.
Some more exploration, and now I’m in an area where I’m trying to sneak around, avoiding another prowling EMMI. If it’s in the same room as me, it’ll patrol and pick up my trail, and when it gets close it’ll initiate pursuit, and all I can do is run.
It’s not too hard to keep ahead of it, but it does keep you hopping. This aspect of the game feels like a Schwarzeneggar vs. Predator kind of thing, where you don’t have any weapons that can deal with the threat, and all you can do is run and hide. You feel hunted, powerless, vulnerable. If you escape the room where the EMMI is, you can breath easy because it won’t pursue out of its area.
So now I’m kindof stuck exploring this area looking for the way to proceed.
There are some spots in the level that I’ve found where there are destroyable blocks that you can shoot, and sometimes these open up new areas, but about as often they open up areas that (apparently? I’m not sure?) you can’t go through yet. Or maybe I can but I just don’t know how.
Things I know how to do:
- switch to missiles and fire them
- aim around me
- wall jump
- ledge hang
That’s about it. There’s a screen in the pause menu that tells you what abilities you have, but it doesn’t tell me what I can have but haven’t found yet, so I’m not sure what’s in store for me yet.
The game mentioned that because of my Metroid DNA infusion, I’m vulnerable to cold (in the original Metroid, Metroids could only be hurt after first being frozen by the ice beam, so it makes sense), and there are areas in the game that are cold and I will take damage if I’m not equipped to deal with that. But I haven’t found any cold zones yet.
I have found some underwater areas though. You move a bit differently underwater — you can’t wall jump, your jump height is reduced, and you’re not buoyant. There’s some puzzles where you have to blow away walls to change water flow or water levels in order to proceed. I bet at some point there will be a power-up that gives you your mobility back underwater.
I’ve found a few save points, and a weapon recharge and life energy recharge station. Mostly you don’t need them, because the enemies are easy and drop a lot of missiles and life. But it’s good to get introduced to them so you know they exist and what they look like.
There’s plenty of areas on the map that I’ve explored so far where I can see that there’s more in some direction, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to get there yet. There’s sloped floors that you can’t get any traction on and you always slide down them. You can’t even jump up them.
So until I can figure out how to proceed, I’m stuck. I like figuring out these puzzles on my own, so I’m looking forward to working it out for myself. Probably I’ll spend 10 or 20 hours looping around and around missing something that I ignored a clue about during one of the cutscenes, and eventually I’ll discover it.
I feel like I probably could have already discovered it, but the time pressure imposed on me by having to run from the EMMI when I’m in its area is making it harder to explore that particular area, and that is probably the key to this part of the game.
Also I’m still really awkward/unfamiliar with the fine controls.