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Shinesparkers Reviews Metroid Dread

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After almost nineteen years since Samus’s last adventure in the timeline, Metroid 5, otherwise known as Metroid Dread, was released on October 8th, 2021. The team took the time to sit down and give a group review on Samus’s latest adventure, and share their thoughts on Samus’s final adventure in a story-arc thirty-five years in the making. Check out what they had to say! (Warning: spoilers present)

The Team taking part in this feature:

Darren Creative Director

RoyboyX Deputy Creative Director

Glaedrax Community Manager

Features Manager

Mr. Mendelli Graphics



Naner Technical Support



After seventeen years of being a Metroid fan, my wait for a follow-up to Metroid Fusion is finally over. Metroid Dread is a huge leap forward for MercurySteam since their last outing with Metroid: Samus Returns, bringing the expertise of their previous game, into a new generation with a much more polished look. Dread certainly lives up to its hype, delivering a beautiful alien world filled with monstrous and relentless foes, and gameplay that remains faithful and familiar to anyone who has played a classic Metroid title previously.

To touch on the game briefly, the design of Samus this time around has one of the best I have ever witnessed, and the level of detail in the animations, such as her movement is one of the strongest parts of the game. From the position of her feet when she comes to a halt, to steading herself against a rock to aim her arm cannon better, the attention to detail is well-thought -out. Her arsenal is filled with a mix of classic weapons and abilities, along with a few new ones that feel like they have always been a part of her adventures. The bosses are challenging and memorable, destroying me easily in my first encounter, before eventually learning their movements to bring them down. Dread has plenty of interesting and surprising lore to help flesh out the characters, and the universe of Samus and Metroid even further.

After so many years, there was no way Dread could ever meet the expectations of an excited fan such as myself, and the game is far from flawless. In terms of a standard difficulty mode, Dread feels like the most difficult Metroid game to date, and the controls can take some getting used to, requiring you to press and memorise multiple buttons at once. I found this to be most noticable when I was trying to grapple across a few areas. While the story was exciting at times, it ended far too abruptly, and doesn’t quite deliver all the answers to questions I have held for such a long time, such as the status of the Metroid Breeding Program run by the Federation, and the status of the Dachora and Etecoon characters that were present on Samus’s ship at the end of Metroid Fusion. While there was a promise of Dread concluding the story-arc, it didn’t feel as final as I was expecting.

With that being said, it is absolutely a worthy sequel to Fusion, and potentially one of the best Metroid games ever created. MercurySteam and Nintendo have created something remarkable for fans, and new fans alike. It’s definitely Metroid 5, and it’s a miracle that it exists.


I want to end my segment with comments about the soundtrack of Metroid Dread, something I was incredibly excited to hear more of, given my passion and love for Metroid music. I went in with high expectations, and the possibility of a soundtrack that would complement the game, but also deliver iconic music that could be enjoyed as standalone themes. I wanted to hear some unexplored remixes, especially from Fusion, which would have been a good opportunity, given its links to its predecessor story. While the music did match the environments and mood of the game, I felt that it didn’t meet the criteria in other areas, leaving me feeling a little underwhelmed. It’s something I am sad to have to report, and not something I say lightly. But it’s not all terrible, there were a few good tracks, such as Kraid’s fight, the encounter with Corpious, the safe E.M.M.I area of Dairon, and the fight against the Chozo Robot after the encounter with Quiet Robe. All memorable and enjoyable!

My biggest compliment has to go to the E.M.M.I areas, and the adaptive music it brings. The transition between patrolling, searching and pursuit mode really add to the uncomfortable feeling that the E.M.M.I bring to the game. Dread also features some memorable themes such as the theme of Samus Aran, Lower Brinstar and the iconic title theme from Super Metroid, which I was pleased to hear again, but wished that they had explored other themes from games that haven’t really had a spotlight in the past. Overall, I felt the soundtrack was passable, but I would have appreciated more. I do have to wonder why Daisuke Matsuoka, the composer for Metroid: Samus Returns, didn’t come back to score this game too. Perhaps he was busy working on Metroid Prime 4? Only time will tell…



Metroid Dread is real. Words I wondered if I’d ever say. I went in with high expectations and I was not disappointed. Samus is the most fluid she’s ever been, doing away with the stop, parry, shoot, stop, parry, shoot of Samus Returns’ combat. ZDR is a massive world full of secrets to explore, exactly the way I like it (but screw the Ferenia Missile+ Tank). From the beginning of the story I knew I was in for a treat.

As always, Metroid excels at atmosphere and Dread doesn’t skimp. I was very tense every time I stepped into an E.M.M.I. Zone, and looked forward to melting each and every one of their faces. Actually, I was able to counter the purple E.M.M.I. five times in a row! Being in the water helped with that since it slows them down a little. The boss fights were incredible, and definitely could not have existed in their form on the Nintendo DS back in the day. Kraid’s return was very welcomed, even if unexplained, and for once Ridley did not needlessly return! As I mentioned in episode 7 of our podcast, I thought that his addition to Dread would be shoehorning, and thankfully he was not forced in.

The final battle against Raven Beak was stunning, if hard, as was the escape sequence. While the entire Metroid story was ultimately tied together, with Samus becoming the ultimate warrior – a Metroid – herself, it left open room for further adventures and perhaps more use of her new Metroid powers. I freaked out when Samus spoke, even with a single line she proved how badass and courageous she really is, and it was rewarding to see living Chozo for the first time in the series’ history. Before release I had suspected that the E.M.M.I. were trying to extract her Metroid DNA, and I was right.

Overall I’m thrilled with Dread, but I do have some gripes with it. First, where were the animals? I spent 115 days in between announcement and release worrying about them, and whether the E.M.M.I., Raven Beak or the X would harm them, but then they had the audacity not to be in it! I really wanted to see them! I’m also kind of disappointed that we didn’t get extra endings where Samus removes her Power Suit. I always like to see the character under the armor. Finally, the game does not address the ending of Fusion, where Samus was concerned about facing legal repercussions for disobeying orders and destroying the BSL station. The Federation plays a proxy role in Dread through the E.M.M.I., but are otherwise nowhere to be found. Whether it’s a splinter group of the Federation Army like in Other M, or the entire Federation that wanted the X Parasites, needs to be made clear once and for all in a future Metroid game.

I’ve been a Metroid fan for eleven years, and that’s how long I was waiting for the chronology of the series to continue. MercurySteam, you have met my expectations, and delivered us a worthy successor to the Metroid games of old. I can’t wait to see where you take Samus next. Thank you MercurySteam!


Dread is the first Metroid game since Other M to emphasize story, although it is in a less overt way with much less dialogue. While I’m not one of the Metroid fans who loathes and despises Other M, I know many were worried about Dread potentially repeating its mistakes. Fortunately, it does not. The major scene with dialogue was perfectly done, with enough emotion in the voices of Quiet Robe and Samus (Samus spoke Chozo!!!) to get the point across. The final twist before the ending was equally shocking and satisfying as a long time fan who has read the prequel manga. Even if some of that has been retconned.



Dread was everything I hoped for and beyond. It’s a great mix of Fusion’s ambience and storytelling, Samus Returns’ gameplay basis, Super Metroid’s world design and Zero Mission’s fast pacing. It’s challenging, innovative and really fun. The gameplay is the most smooth and dynamic in the entire series, some returning power-ups were revisited in a great way, and we even get a few new upgrades to make the gameplay even more satisfying. The slide and Dash Melee are a very welcome addition, you truly feel unstoppable! Everything looks fantastic, in spite of a few weaknesses on the technical side due to hardware limitations, and it looks especially well on the new OLED screen. The backgrounds are full of animated details, which makes ZDR feel alive and believable. The music does its job in making the game feel tense. It’s good, but does not particularly stand out compared to music from the rest of the series.

Metroid Dread is essentially based on MercurySteam’s previous take on a Metroid title, Samus Returns. It brushes off pretty much every weak aspect of the latter. The Melee Counter does not slow down the gameplay anymore thanks to its Dash Melee version, and the enemies are a lot less aggressive. The areas are more interconnected and don’t rely on teleporters within themselves anymore. There are also tons of different enemies, including their X Parasite versions. The boss fights and even the entire game is reasonably challenging, and rarely feels frustrating. The Aeion gauge now refills itself automatically instead of requiring you to defeat enemies to get some Aeion orbs.

As for the story… I liked it, but it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Some parts were amazing and really caught me by surprise, some others were frustrating and others were just confusing. It definitely looks like the ending of Metroid Fusion was retconned. Samus absorbed the SA-X, obtaining the Ice Beam which allowed her to defeat the Omega Metroid. The Ice Beam is a major plot point of Fusion, because her Metroid DNA gave her a lethal weakness to cold, so she couldn’t use it at first. Sakamoto-san clarified in an interview that Samus’ original genetic condition was restored when she absorbed the SA-X, which explains why she could use the beam again. However, in Metroid Dread, she still has her Metroid DNA (which is fine by me, I really wanted them to explore that Metroid mutation part of her) and her weakness to cold, so she’s relying on Ice Missiles again. Unfortunately, the reasoning behind this was never explained or even mentioned in the game by Adam.

The ending especially needs a few clarifications, because it does not look like the Metroid species arc is finished at all, with Samus getting Metroid energy absorption powers and even a new Metroid Suit, which somehow disappeared after absorbing the X Parasite that assimilated Quiet Robe. Did it remove her Metroid DNA, or does she maintain some control over her new powers? Either way, what’s the reasoning behind it, since she is immune to the X Parasite? Will this transformation return in a future game? Was Kraid a clone or is he the one we fought before? Where are Old Bird and the rest of the Chozo? What’s the deal with Aeion energy and the Omega Cannon granted by the Central Units? I was confused by how abruptly the story ends with so many things remaining unexplained or up to interpretation. Considering the importance of what happens at the end of the battle with Raven Beak, I expected Samus and Adam to discuss all this. Also, I’m disappointed by the lack of alternative endings regardless of your completion time or item rate. It’s one of the trademarks of the series, so that got me a bit confused.

Aside from these little gripes I had with the story and ending, I loved every second of the game, and I’m looking forward to the future of the series. MercurySteam did an outstanding job and has all my trust for future Metroid games. Thank you for your hard work!

Level Design

My favorite aspect of the game has to be the crazy level design which allows for tons of sequence breaking. The game purposefully gives you the Pulse Radar late in the game in order for you not to find the numerous hidden paths that you can use to get certain upgrades early. From slide jumps to speed boost wall jumps, there are plenty of tricks you can use to access areas that you’re not supposed to. The game even rewards you for sequence breaking! For example, you can kill Kraid instantly during the second phase of the battle if you manage to get the Bombs early. I’ll let you figure out that one!



Metroid Dread was an unexpected but obviously priceless welcome during its announcement earlier this year. One thing I always crave regarding games is the high level of difficulty during my very first playthroughs, and Dread did deliver on that for sure. It is on par with Hollow Knight’s difficulty, which is my second favourite game after the Metroid series.

The positives of Dread include: its high difficulty, the smooth movement of Samus, the return of the X Parasites and Raven Beak, which represents a fine example of how powerful the Chozo can be. The voice acting was a welcome surprise too and the one sentence Samus said nailed her personality as both a determined and badass warrior. The E.M.M.I performed as they should, living up to the dread of ever facing them. And lastly, it was wonderful battling a furious Kraid again.

There are a few things however that could have been a bit better, and one thing would be that it was a bit short. The lore and story lacked a bit of meat, especially regarding Raven Beak and why he chose power over his own kind. The new suit of Samus had no proper explanation, the critters that helped her in Fusion were nowhere, a severe lack of Galactic Federation presence and the soundtrack felt a bit generic at times.

In the end though, as a Metroid game, it is true to its roots with a modern touch, challenging and a final boss that is just a manifestation of technological power.



My consensus: It’s good, really, really good. It delivers on everything I was hoping it would say for a couple of minor things. The controls feel decent too with the exception of a couple of abilities, but they are not used all too often. This doesn’t feel like other games which I consider a good thing, at least in how it was executed here. The game can be mild, slow, or extremely fast-paced and bounces between all of them. Sometimes going from zero to sixty in a matter of moments. Since I’ve played all of the games in the series, this one holds up to more notable titles, considerably more than Metroid: Samus Returns. I think the biggest issues keeping that game from being closer to Metroid Dread are some of the new abilities and how they are implemented, namely parrying for interrupting the pacing and exploration. I am happy to report this is a near non-issue in Metroid Dread. The only times it can pose an issue is in narrow passages or areas dense with enemies, thankfully some later abilities mitigate this, but will require twitch reflexes. Movement is snappy and combat feels fluid.

Another issue from Samus Returns that has been addressed is environmental and enemy variety. More in the department of the latter, but the environments are mostly quite amazing and there is plenty of variety, even within the same given biome. Leading up to release, some people understandably expressed concern over some environments looking plain and boring. These are thankfully only for sectors that the E.M.M.I. patrol, and at least fit thematically. They make you feel crowded and unsafe, a feeling that is very intentional in these areas. There is no difficulty to choose from, and while some may not like this, the game feels balanced overall and only lets you approach certain enemies, areas, and bosses when you should be ready to. Sequence breaking is possible, and while I have yet to explore all possible avenues and alternative routes, what I can say is that series veterans and those that master the game do have the freedom and flexibility to skip things presuming you know how to plan ahead.

Going back to difficulty, a lot of enemies hit hard, and bosses even harder. Some attacks from bosses take off multiple Energy Tanks in a single hit. Admittedly, there’s a somewhat steep difficulty curve with bosses. Some of which took multiple attempts to defeat, and some more than I’m proud to admit, but I enjoyed the challenge. I cannot speak for everyone, but not all bosses were like this which was nice. You can stomp some bosses if you’re in a good rhythm, and every so often that feeling is stripped from you after two, or three, or seven attempts on a boss later. Some boss arenas also make clever use of the environment and make you step back and think, especially if these elements go unnoticed at first.

Exploration is extremely important in Metroid games and I believe I can say MercurySteam has learned what to make it feel like for returning players in a new title. They didn’t do the best for some with this in Samus Returns, but almost all elements of exploration and how the differing parts of ZDR and how cohesive they are great and seem to nail the formula of what other fan favorite titles are known for doing this well. The only major gripe I had was about three quarters of the way in you encounter a lot of these plant entities that are passive enemies that block paths, the concentration of them at this point felt like a crutch to making a more thought-out map, but you don’t have to worry about them much longer after this point. Another thing I’m happy to report is that while not all that often, I did find myself genuinely lost at times. A feeling I haven’t had since the first time I played Super Metroid. Not everyone will enjoy this of course, but I state this on behalf of returning Metroid players as most consider this a series staple.

The story is fantastic, and has plenty of fan-service done right within it. I considered noting some in this review of mine, but I think it will be more enjoyable for fans new or returning to experience these moments themselves. I had a lot of theories on how the plot could unfold and the meaning of things seen in the Dread Reports and trailers and was pleasantly surprised at how accurate some were, and how many caught me off-guard. The story fits in well with the rest of the series and I can happily say it’s clear MercurySteam did their homework on Metroid lore. There are of course some inconsistencies, and some moments of dialog that feel like repeats of what veterans already know, but I think these moments can safely be shrugged off as directed at newcomers and aren’t all that important to begin with. New additions to the lore don’t feel like copies of previous elements either.

Overall, this game was fun to play and was honestly difficult to put down at times. It surpassed my expectations and I hope it will for others as well. I look forward to discussing the game with veterans and lore-junkies such as myself. Metroid Dread doesn’t attempt to strike fear into your heart at every moment, but when it does it more than lives up to its name. Encountering the E.M.M.I. for the first time took me back to hiding from and outrunning the Xenomorph in Alien: Isolation and I enjoyed every moment of these encounters, even when having to try again after screwing up. I believe MercurySteam honored Samus as well as other returning characters and elements of the Metroid universe, I think they learned from the mistakes and feedback of problems fans had with Samus Returns and greatly improved upon where they previously fell short. The game has some minor complaints from me, but exactly that: minor.

I was admittedly nervous myself but was quickly assured that the studio took the criticism people had and not only listened to it but delivered upon improving as well and I can’t emphasize this enough. Metroid Dread has plenty of surprises that all had me locked in wanting more and to keep pushing forward to the next plot point. I already plan on mastering the game ever more for at least several more play throughs. As I was writing this review, I was initially concerned I didn’t point out enough problems with the game but this is thankfully because I personally really didn’t have any other than what I already mentioned. On a scale of one to ten, I can comfortably say I give Metroid Dread, an eight.



I still can’t believe it. I waited seventeen years for this game and it was absolutely worth it! The gameplay is amazing. It’s a perfect mix between classic Metroid and modern Metroidvania. The few new upgrades are a lot of fun and classic power-ups got updated as well. I love how useful and easy-to-use the Grapple Beam is in this game. Combat was never this good in a Metroid game. Boss fights are hard but fair, even more so than in Dark Souls. Players have to study attack patterns and take advantage of Samus’ movement options. The Final Boss is a lot of fun!

The E.M.M.I.s are far more threatening than expected. The counter is really hard to hit but feels so good when you do it. I’m usually not a big fan of pursuing enemies but the E.M.M.I.s are a lot of fun due to Samus’ great mobility. And even if you get caught, you don’t lose any progress. The checkpoint system is really good in Dread. Even after completing the game twice, I still get nervous around some of the E.M.M.I.s. Feels like that’s what the SA-X should have been in Fusion.

Samus in this game is so good. Her design and animations are stunning and full of details. The decision to use her eyes to show her emotions is a great idea and her portrayal during the cutscenes against boss fights are so badass. My only gripe is Samus not communicating with Adam. That was the perfect opportunity for Samus to explain some important things. I’d love to hear or read more of her thoughts. But that one cutscene with Quiet Robe, where she actually spoke in Chozo Language was such a shocking and beautiful moment, it made me cry. That was my favorite moment in the entire game. I never expected that this would mean so much to me. It was perfect.

The story is really good for a 2D Metroid. Raven Beak is an interesting villain and I like how they tried to connect his plan to previous installments. I do think the beginning and the end are a bit rushed. A bit more exposition and explaining before landing on ZDR and after leaving ZDR would have been great. The ending needs more context for sure. The Metroid DNA twist was absolutely great, however. I was hoping for Samus to become the last Metroid for the past 17 years and it’s finally happening! I am beyond hyped for future Metroid games!

Regarding general lore, Sakamoto gave me more than expected but less than what I was hoping for. This is supposed to be the end of the current Arc, the Metroid Arc. But there are so many new questions. What’s up with Kraid? What happened to Samus’ Suit at the end of Fusion? What happened between Fusion and Dread? The new Chozo lore is really interesting but needs a lot of explaining, especially Raven Beak’s backstory since he was apparently on Zebes to help “save” Samus. The whole Thoha and Mawkin backstory changes a lot. The biggest missed opportunity, in my opinion, is the lack of a scan visor. So many areas and enemies to analyze, so many Chozo texts to read. That would have been great.

Still, it is an absolutely gorgeous and really fun game. Worth the wait. Thank you Mercury Steam and Mr. Sakamoto. See you next Mission!

The Character of Samus

I love her portrayal in Dread! The way she moves and behaves, her badass body language and her general design. Everything about her in this game is perfect! I would have loved to hear her talk more, especially with Adam, but what little we got made the game even more special. That one cutscene with Quiet Robe is my favorite moment from the entire franchise!



Loved it loved it LOVED IT!!! Easily the best game of 2021, and now my second favourite Metroid game of all time, right after Super.

The gameplay is classic Metroid at its finest, with great enemy/area variety and a great fun world to explore, with special shoutouts to some downright evil shinesparking puzzles (Despite raging at them I just love them and are part of the Metroid experience, haha).

Either way, as someone who doesn’t play video games for that long at a time usually, Metroid Dread was the first game in a very long while that had me hooked on a game for four hours straight. It’s that good, you cannot stop playing.

Art-wise, the game is beyond gorgeous and as someone who’s usually a sucker for sprite-based 2D games, it easily is the best-looking 2.5D game I’ve ever played, especially with the small touches like how the breakable block seeker ability actually reacts on the scenery’s depth. Lots of polish was done there and it’s just about flawless there.

Story-wise, this is Fusion done right. I had a few issues with how Fusion handled the story/lore, and Dread just fixed all of Fusion’s flaws in that regard, and probably even made me appreciate Fusion more, now knowing what happens afterwards (Post-Fusion was one hell of a cliffhanger lore-wise). Aside from that, the story really picks up at a certain point (Oh, you’ll know… You’ll know…) and had me hooked! The plot twists are some of the best in the series, and I’m very much looking forward to Samus’s next mission!

My only gripe is the music. While the tracks are all very well-made and fit the areas very well, I do wish for something a bit more memorable, like Super was (Heck, there were a few themes from Super here and there and they’re the only ones I distinctly remember from the game).

It also might be the reason why the game still hasn’t surpassed Super Metroid just yet. Super’s memorable soundtrack really intensifies some moments (the arrival in Red Brinstar, the fight with Mother Brain, Maridia’s gloomy atmosphere, etc.) and I would’ve loved to see more of that in Dread. I really hope Samus’s next adventure will nail that aspect a bit more in order to have another near-perfect game like Super Metroid.

Minor nitpicks aside, this game is still a 10/10, and comes highly recommended to anyone, and not just Metroid fans. I had thorough fun, and I shall DEFINITELY see you next mission!


Not really a fan of 2.5D over true 2D games usually, but MercurySteam managed to make everything look beyond gorgeous, and it’s definitely the best-looking 2.5D game I played, and I didn’t wish for 2D graphics even once during my playthrough.



It took me some time to even accept this game is real. The first portion of the game felt a bit off — there weren’t many power-ups, gameplay was frequently interrupted by cutscenes and the initial area looks somewhat bland. Upon reaching Cataris, however, things start to pick up and the game leaves the player to their own devices and things get more interesting in every way.

Even if Dread isn’t quite as open as Super Metroid, it’s a huge step up from Samus Returns and Fusion in terms of having an interconnected world structure and opportunities for sequence breaking, which naturally the speedrunners are already exploiting.

My greatest praise goes to Samus’s mobility and the combat. In moment-to-moment gameplay, Dread is an extremely enjoyable game to control and it takes advantage of that by featuring the best boss battles seen so far in the series.


I love the movement physics of this game. MercurySteam was able to adapt the Samus Returns engine in all the right way, resulting in a far more dynamic game. The downside here is that perhaps the game uses too many buttons or combinations of them, requiring extra concentration to get all the commands right during an intense boss battle.

We hope that our readers have enjoyed Metroid Dread! Be sure to share your thoughts with us on our social media platforms, we would love to hear about your experiences with the game!