Look, I know it’s rude to get a sequel to a game after 19 years and then talk about the future. I’m incredibly grateful that we finally got Metroid V, and I’m even more grateful that it ended up being the elusive Metroid Dread. I’m even more pleased that Sakamoto and Mercury Steam managed to successfully continue a 35-year-old series with possibly its best entry yet.
Metroid Dread is my GOTY. I’m a huge Metroid fan, and up until this year, Metroid Fusion was still my favourite entry. I always loved the 2D side more than Prime (nothing against Prime, I also really love those games), because I love a tight seven to eight-hour action game that I can replay and improve in.
So finally getting another 2D entry, after nearly 20 years, is incredible. The fact it’s also the mythical Metroid Dread is an amazing bonus, and I’m so happy that it went above and beyond my lofty expectations. With all that out of the way, I want more 2D Metroid now, please.
Full disclosure, I will be talking explicitly about the ending and general plot points of Metroid Dread. I only recommend reading this if you’ve completed the game already. There isn’t a tremendous amount you can spoil with the Metroid series, it’s more about action and spectacle, but it’s still nice to discover things on your own.
The final moments of Metroid Dread confirm Samus’ place as the last Metroid in existence. After facing Raven Beak, the Chozo who gifted Samus their DNA, she manages to destroy her genetic father and stop his plans to capture her and steal the final traces of Metroid DNA. But, her DNA has morphed to the point where she has taken on the physical form of a Metroid, with an incredible suit to match, and she even has the power to suck the life force out of creatures and the worlds around her. She has become everything she set out to destroy, and can barely control the new power awakened within her.
There’s also the X parasite to worry about, which can never truly be destroyed. In the final moments of the game we see that an X parasite has taken over Quiet Robe, the gentle Chozo scientist who tried to help Samus, and this fusion of the Chozo and the X parasite assists Samus in restoring her original form, allowing her to escape Planet ZDR before it blows up.
Before this, however, we see that many of the remaining Chozo forces in Raven Beak’s army have also been taken over by X parasite, assuming some sort of sentience and ability. In fact, in the final climactic moments of the game, we may have seen a huge tease for the future. In one area, just before ascending to Raven Beak’s throne room, spaceships are clearly visible and docked waiting to be used. Upon returning from beating Raven Beak, those ships are missing, and the only lifeforms anywhere near intelligent enough would be an X parasite assuming the form of a Chozo warrior.
If and when we get Metroid 6 (hopefully not in 19 years this time), it has three main story points to confront. Firstly, Samus is now a Metroid, second, the X parasite probably escaped ZDR, and finally, Samus’ already difficult relationship with the Galactic Federation will be even more strained when they realise that she has the one thing they want, Metroid DNA. To be honest, I also hope we get a different threat. Some dark corner of the galaxy we don’t quite know yet, another predator to the Metroid species, but the aforementioned points are plenty to work with.
One important thing about Metroid Dread though, is that it concludes a chapter in Samus’ life. The tale of the Chozo is done. While I’m sure we’ll get some additional details on their history in the future, there are no more Chozo in the galaxy, and crucially, their part in Samus’ story is over. They’ve been an integral part of the journey for over 30 years, but I’m glad to see a story finished so satisfyingly.
Samus has always existed on her own, happy to explore lonely worlds with nothing more than her arm cannon for support. But, she now has the full force of the Galactic Federation hunting her down, plus she needs help controlling her new abilities. We see her struggle to contain the Metroid side of her in Dread, and we even see her completely succumb to it and transform her entire being in the process. Learning to manage this, perhaps to even utilise her Metroid powers in smart ways, will be an interesting twist on her normal acquisitions of abilities as she explores alien planets.
I hope Metroid 6 shows Samus working with a friend of some kind, to uncover the Galactic Federation’s real plans and to control the darker side of herself. In Metroid Prime 3 and Metroid Prime Hunters, we see several other bounty hunters, though Samus’ relationship with most isn’t a friendly one. There must be the odd person she can trust though, and that leads me to one thing I really want Metroid to learn from the other half of its infamous portmanteau, Castlevania.
I said earlier how much I love replaying action games, and Metroid is chief among them. Another I adore though is Castlevania, a series very similar to Metroid in terms of mechanics, but with a sinister, gothic vibe that fills it with a very different energy. One element I adore from Castlevania is that after beating the game, in a lot of entries you unlock a brand new way to play through again, often as a different character. The people you meet along your initial playthrough are now the playable characters, and this in itself can act as a different difficulty, but with some much-needed variety.
Metroid Dread is already a tough game, so while playing it again on hard is certainly a challenge, it doesn’t offer much in the way of variety and could be too much for a lot of fans. The prospect of exploring the world of ZDR again with a character with different skills is an exciting one, and something I hope future 2D titles consider.
Another thing I hope the next Metroid game pulls from Castlevania is slightly more lively music. I love almost everything about Metroid Dread. The incredible action, the great visuals, the sense of atmosphere, and the smart level design. But the music? It’s sadly forgettable, and the quest to make the world of ZDR come across as eerie may have come at the expense of character. You don’t need silence to build a spooky atmosphere, and Metroid has a lot of great music to pull from.
Ultimately, I know there isn’t much that can be done to improve on Metroid Dread. And while I don’t think it will be, if this is the last Metroid game, well it went out on a high. However, my real dream is that this latest entry proves there’s still a market, a hunger, for action-packed 2D games like Metroid, and there are plenty of interesting stories still begging to be told in the galaxy. I’m sure we’ll get Metroid Prime 4 before we get Metroid 6, but that’s a different series and a different story. Metroid 6 could be the start of something brand new, or a whole new set of possibilities, enemies, and dark corners of the cosmos that only Samus is equipped to explore. Here’s hoping we see them soon.