Bits & Bytes is a weekly column where Editor-in-Chief Robert shares his thoughts about video games and the industry on a lazy Sunday. Light reading for a day of rest, Bits & Bytes is short, to the point, and something to read with a nice drink.
Metroid Dread has finally arrived. It felt really weird picking up the game this past Friday. Weird as in surreal, I mean. Dread has been vapor for so long, after all. Announced years ago, all signs seemed to point towards Dread having been canceled at some point with zero fanfare. Then E3 2021 came along and the vapor was replaced with a real, genuine piece of video game software.
Hype is a tricky thing. Sometimes, your brain will make the thing you’re looking forward to so grandiose that the real thing will simply never suffice, will never live up to the expectations that you’ve created for it. In the case of Dread, I’m not having that problem, regardless of how many years I’ve waited to play the thing. This game is good. Hell, this game is fabulous.
There are a lot of small things that are making Dread a late but strong contender for game of the year, in my mind. An early highlight has been the E.M.M.I., the hulking, bug-like automatons that chase Samus around planet ZDR. They’re creepy! They’re powerful! They’re overwhelming! Every encounter with them is a taught game of cat and mouse. Imagine the chase segments in Metroid Fusion where the SAX would suddenly appear and attempt to mow Samus down. The E.M.M.I. have a very similar vibe.
I also have to give series mastermind Yoshio Sakamoto some real credit here. This is the second time up to the plate for him since the train wreck that was Other M and he has now hit two home runs in a row. Any misgivings that I had with Sakamoto over Other M are officially buried—the man has redeemed himself big time. Dread is every bit a classic Metroid game in terms of gameplay and Samus’s characterization. She is once again the silent, unstoppable warrior that fans know and love, with none of the nauseating character moments that made her so insufferable in Other M.
If it sounds like I’m gushing, I am. Sure, you can wait for my review, where I’ll go into greater depth about Dread, but the basic takeaway is this: if you own a Switch, you need to own Dread. The game is an absolute triumph and, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to go beat the final boss. Catch you all later!