I’ve been looking forward to Metroid Dread a long time–my introduction to Samus and her story was 2002’s Metroid Fusion and though I would go back to play her earlier adventures and go on to enjoy the 2D remakes and Prime trilogy, I always hoped a sequel for Fusion would come out some day. The Metroid series has always toed the line when it comes to horror, traditionally taking place in spooky settings and putting Samus into situations that induce sensations of dread. I’ve always believed that Metroid would make for an incredible horror franchise for Nintendo, and Fusion came awfully close to making that jump for the 2D series.
But if anything, Dread is a step back in that regard. That’s not to say Dread is a bad game–I love Dread, and I foresee myself playing it repeatedly just like I’ve done with most of Samus’ adventures (what do you mean there were two Metroid games between Prime 3: Corruption and Samus Returns–no there wasn’t). But Dread doesn’t really live up to its namesake. There’s very little sense of dread in the game, and not much in the way of horror either.
Writer’s Note: Metroid Dread story spoilers ahead.
This is largely because the EMMI aren’t used very well in Dread. Part of the marketing for Dread from the very beginning, the EMMI were advertised as the main draw for Dread–an evolution to Fusion’s SA-X, in that they hunt Samus in predetermined sections of the game. These spider-like robots quickly skitter towards any sound they hear and will chase after Samus if she’s spotted, killing her in a single attack if they catch her and you don’t manage to execute a difficult counter. Unlike normal enemies and bosses, the EMMI can’t be hurt by Samus’ traditional arsenal of weapons, forcing you to seek out Central Units in order to temporarily unlock the Omega Cannon, a limited-use beam that can pierce the near-indestructible shell of an EMMI.