Dominion Strategy Forum

Miscellaneous => Other Games => Topic started by: pacovf on November 01, 2021, 09:16:38 pm

Title: Metroid Dread
Post by: pacovf on November 01, 2021, 09:16:38 pm
So "the first new metroid 2D game in 19 years" came out a few weeks ago. Of course, since Metroid Fusion, we've had Metroid Prime 2 and 3, Hunters, Other M, Federation Force and the remake of Metroid 2, so it's not like nothing has happened with the franchise since then... but it's still a very meaningful addition. I have played through the game three times now. Once normally, getting 100% after beating the final boss, once again looking for places to "sequence break", and a casual speedrun on hard difficulty. And I have some thoughts that I need to get out.

Main one is that Dread is a sequel to Fusion in more ways than one. The emphasis is not really on exploration anymore. While the game doesn't spell out for you where you have to go, it has a tendency to close paths behind you as you go and leave very few options open at any given time. I don't mind that much that there's rarely more than one unopened door (or equivalent) at any given time, heavily pushing you towards The One True Path, but locking your options to backtrack for collectibles or just to check if you missed anything else than the obvious path in front of you is super annoying, especially when the "locking" comes unexpectedly, such as "random" pitfall blocks. The game only really lets you explore towards the end of the game. There are some occasions in which you can sequence break with clever/skillful platforming, placed there by the devs, but most are curiosities that don't last long before you're forced back to the main path. Some glitches allow further sequence breaking, but I don't know much about them.

That being said, movement is a joy. Controlling Samus has never felt better, you're zipping around at light speed, jumping, bouncing, sliding, etc., and it only gets better with additional upgrades. I believe it's this expanded mobility that really let MercurySteam go wild with the (few "true") bosses in the game, which are hands down the best in the whole series. Previous 2D Metroid games mostly had you trading blows with bosses, and while skill was still involved, it was mostly a check for how many missiles/energy tanks you had collected. In Dread, all boss attacks can be dodged, and with a bit of practice bosses can be beat without ever getting hit (the flipside, of course, is that any hit *hurts*, so you'll likely die a few times to each boss).

The EMMIs are fine. They're overall better than the SA-X, from a gameplay perspective, expecting quick planning and actual reactivity from the player, but they can also feel a bit unfair in that their placement is somewhat randomized. Luckily Dread checkpoints often, so they fact they instakill you is not too frustrating. They mostly test your capacity to exploit the level design to avoid them, so some feel more fun than others depending on how interesting the "platforming" around them is. I thought they were fun my first time around the game (though they seem to be polarizing online) as an occasional break of the usual gameplay, but on replays they get a bit boring since they're a bit too linear and there is very little you can do to optimize their sections. Maybe if their areas were a bit more open that would have alleviated the problem, but alas (check Rainworld if you want to see this concept pushed into a fullscale game).

For more general stuff, the game is obviously the best looking Metroid to date, by far. Music is just fine, not memorable but not bad. The plot (there is one!) is good enough with a couple of twists, and mostly references Fusion and (I think) M:SR. Loading screens between areas are long. One particular returning upgrade (grapple beam) gets some cool additional tricks, but unfortunately suffers from horrible inputs, often requiring 4 (!!!!) simultaneous inputs to use - I think the devs were aware of the issue, because you rarely need to use it precisely and quickly, but still, a different scheme would have allowed additional puzzles and platforming with it. The map is particularly useful this time around, quick check will usually tell you where to go if you've ever played a Metroid game before. Lots of hidden breakable blocks stopping progression, I only had to check a guide twice in Dread (even while getting 100%), and both were early on due to this problem, before I got in the habit of missile-ing and bomb-ing everything; I am very iffy about this.

Anyhoo, overall Dread is still a really good Metroid game, I would argue almost strictly better than Fusion. The fact that it's rather linear is more than made up for the fluidity of its movement and the quality of the bosses. Really the main issue with Dread is the price compared to indie alternatives (there is a before and an after Hollow Knight), but if the main thing you want from it is the progression from acquiring upgrades or want to know the next episode in the Metroid story, this is still a very worthwhile investment. I played AM2R right after (never had before, turns out I should have), and it's definitely a very different feel in terms of exploration even though it's somewhat linear itself; hopefully the next (?) Metroid game MercurySteam develops can capture that too.
Title: Re: Metroid Dread
Post by: Tables on November 03, 2021, 03:44:51 am
Not sure if you've seen this, but it talks a lot about the whole "locking you in" thing.

In short it seems to be a way to prevent the player getting completely lost in the large game world, which has advantages and disadvantages. Outside of these times though the game feels fairly open, I would say, and there's plenty of sequence break tricks that exist.

I've played Dread only once so far but probably will do another playthrough sometime soon. It's a fun game, I don't think the best Metroid game ever but it's a solid, although short, game.
Title: Re: Metroid Dread
Post by: pacovf on November 03, 2021, 05:52:47 am
Yeah, I saw that. I agree with the final take that it's a strike against the game, though my overall opinion is more positive than theirs.

I was checking the map right after I got every upgrade, and you're actually very restricted in where you can go for like 80% of the game. It's only after you get the screw attack that the game lets you backtrack anywhere you want, and that's the second-to-last upgrade unless you've sequence-break'd. Before then, whole areas you've already been to can't be revisited, even if they sometimes do give you the freedom to double-check the area you are currently in (not always). Coupled with the path forward being fairly linear, there's just not that much exploration.

It's actually on the longer end of 2D Metroid standards, but those are short games as a general rule. Hard to rank it compared to Zero Mission or Super Metroid, with their stronger emphasis on exploration, but it's better than Fusion, which is the closest one in what it was trying to do.
Title: Re: Metroid Dread
Post by: GendoIkari on November 03, 2021, 05:17:41 pm
I haven't played Dread at all yet, but I watched the video. I too feel like that style of design would detract from my overall enjoyment of the game. I'm loving things like Hollow Knight where I just got an new ability and now I have a whole bunch of places I can go back to to use it. And I don't see how "getting lost" is really a problem that needs to be solved as long as there's a good map system. In Hollow Knight, it's always pretty clear by looking at the map what possible places I can go to check out to see somewhere I haven't been yet. And yeah there may be 5 options of un-used exits to go try where 4 of them will be inaccessible currently, but it's not like I'm wasting huge amounts of time going to each of those places to see if I can explore a new area right away.
Title: Re: Metroid Dread
Post by: pacovf on November 03, 2021, 07:45:55 pm
To be fair, Hollow Knight has way fewer upgrades than the average Metroid, and the main ones are frontloaded at the beginning of the game. Without detracting from how good of a game it is, it's easier to make for a satisfying world to explore when there's only a handful of movement upgrades, and 90% of the world is accessible with just the first two. Movement upgrades that change the way you interact with the world just aren't the focus. That being said, the beginning of Hollow Knight, where you're railroaded a bit more, is still way more open than Dread. Maybe Metroid should add light RPG elements to its gameplay loop too :p

But hey, if this approach to Metroid means more sales for what has always been an underperforming franchise for Nintendo, maybe that increases the chances for an exploration-heavy Metroid down the line.
Title: Re: Metroid Dread
Post by: LastFootnote on November 05, 2021, 10:55:55 am
Really the main issue with Dread is the price compared to indie alternatives (there is a before and an after Hollow Knight)

Whoa, that's not even remotely fair. Every other game looks like a bad value compared to Hollow Knight because Hollow Knight is ridiculously underpriced. It should be $40, minimum. At $15 it even makes Shovel Knight look bad, and that game is also fantastic value.

Anyway, I almost entirely agree with your review, pacovf. The amazing movement and great bosses very much carry the game. It feels better to play than maybe any other platform game I've played. It is a shame that they cut off backtracking so often, though I still spent plenty of time on my first run going back as far as I could to check for collectables.

Anyway, I don't at all regret spending $60 on the game. I've beaten it thee times and gotten lots of joy out of it, and I'll probably replay it again within a year.
Title: Re: Metroid Dread
Post by: pacovf on November 05, 2021, 07:27:59 pm
Yeah, sorry, I realize now that was phrased weird. It was meant to say that if you haven't played Hollow Knight yet and you like Metroidvanias, you really really should (unless you hate hard bosses I guess?). It's just on a completely different level, and for better or worse it's going to be a while before we can talk about a new entry in the genre without mentioning it. It would be better "value" than Dread even if it cost the same.

More reasonable comparisons are with stuff like Ori (Dread is better but considerably more expensive). I don't regret paying 60 bucks for it either, but it's a fact that there are cheaper recent alternatives out there, and I believe that part of the reason why those alternatives are cheaper is because Hollow Knight exists and set the bar where it did.
Title: Re: Metroid Dread
Post by: GendoIkari on November 05, 2021, 07:54:40 pm
What do you mean by a before and an after Hollow Knight? Do you just mean that there is a Hollow Knight which will be released after Dread; even though it hasnít been released yet?
Title: Re: Metroid Dread
Post by: pacovf on November 05, 2021, 09:55:58 pm
No, I meant that before Hollow Knight, new games in the genre were compared to Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night, which were tough games to match but still achievable. Now new games have to be compared to Hollow Knight too, which is incredibly ambitious, extremely well realized, ridiculously cheap, and somehow developed by only a three-man team... You just can't measure up. I don't even think Silksong will be able to, but I am willing to be pleasantly surprised.
Title: Re: Metroid Dread
Post by: LastFootnote on November 08, 2021, 09:44:49 am
For what it's worth, Metroid Dread has better controls and movement than Hollow Knight, but it does have much less content. And all of Hollow Knight's content is fantastic; it's not like they padded it out with boring fluff or procedurally generated areas. And Hollow Knight's controls and movement aren't bad by any stretch.