Metroid Dread review: Tense terror looks ace on Nintendo Switch OLED
Metroid Dread is a great way to introduce the Nintendo Switch OLED.
The Metroid Dread release date has arrived, on the same day that the Nintendo Switch OLED appears on shop shelves around the globe - and we're pleased to report that this new game and Nintendo's fresh console are a match made in heaven.
Following on from our hands-on Metroid Dread preview, RadioTimes.com received an OLED Switch console and a pre-release copy of Metroid Dread to work our way through. And now that the console and the game are out, it's time to compile our full thoughts into this Metroid Dread review.
- Buy Metroid Dread from Amazon (£48.80)
First things first, it's worth stating that Metroid Dread is a really impressive game that feels like it will please established fans and intrigued newcomers alike. The gameplay is compelling, the level design is excellent and there are some properly tense moments that will test your mettle.
The Metroid Dread story picks up directly after 2002's Metroid Fusion, and the game comes to us from the same developers as 2017's Metroid: Samus Returns, but you could jump in here without any context and pick up the basics pretty easily. At the start, there are some simple cut scenes and text-on-screen moments that will fill you in on everything you need to know.
Playing as the legendary video-game game character Samus Aran, you're dispatched to the planet ZDR to investigate the resurgence of a deadly parasite named X. It's not long before you come face to face with some rogue EMMI robots that will kill you on sight (much like the Xenomorphs in Alien Isolation), which forces you to think stealthily in certain segments of the game.
Metroid Dread is a really good example of bringing back a beloved franchise in a positive way, retaining core elements from the originals whilst adding in exciting new challenges. Harking back to the original Metroid games, this is a 2D side-scroller where you're constantly exploring and unlocking new areas. But with the addition of stealth and a bunch of new abilities, it also feels really fresh.
More like this
The planet ZDR has eight different areas - you unlock them one by one, but you'll also need to hop back and forth between these separate maps as you pick up new abilities. In the classic Metroid style, you often need to go back to an old area with your new powers in order to smash through a previously impenetrable barrier. This gameplay loop feels very satisfying - as you get stronger, you access new areas where you can find even more upgrades, which will allow you to open up yet more areas, and so on!
The Metroid Dread gameplay feels simple as first - you can run, jump, slide, duck and shoot at the start of the game. But after a few hours, you'll be grappling, rolling into a ball, turning invisible, switching between different weapons and magnetically clinging to certain surfaces. No button on the controller is wasted, and you eventually feel like a fighting machine and an expert explorer. Again, it's very satisfying.
- Read more: Where to buy a Nintendo Switch OLED
Although the cut scenes are often quite simple, there are moments of stunning visuals to be found on ZDR, which really show off the Nintendo Switch OLED's improved screen - every now and then, you'll stumble into an environment that boasts a beautiful backdrop and/or a highly detailed creature to defeat. As well as the EMMI robots, there are legions of violent alien beasts that will try to halt your progress. You'll need to time your melee counters well and dish out a steady stream of laser blasts and missiles in order to survive.
The overall tone here is one of tense, isolated exploration, where a deadly menace could be lurking around any corner. Finding a path to survival is almost always fun, although there are a few exceptions - the margin for error during the EMMI robot showdowns feels cruelly minuscule, and there are also some gruelling boss battles that feel more like a slog than a good time.
Timing and dodging are vital in these boss fights, and there's nothing more frustrating than have to restart the whole battle because you mistimed one jump. That being said, the feeling of satisfaction/relief is truly immense when you finally defeat a boss after tens and tens of failed attempts. Overcoming these fearsome foes will almost always gift you with new powers, as well, so it's not like it was all for nought.
All in all, then, Metroid Dread is gruelling at times - my hands were genuinely hurting during one boss battle - but the game is truly great overall. Exploration and discovery meet tension and high-intensity combat, and the result is a compelling game that you'll always want to keep playing - even when you've just died 10 times in a row.
Metroid Dread is out now on Nintendo Switch.
Follow Radio Times Gaming on Twitter for all the latest insights. Or if you're looking for something to watch, see our TV Guide
Visit our video game release schedule for all upcoming games on consoles. Swing by our hubs for more Gaming and Technology news.