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Metroid Dread (and B:RotN)

Weirdly enough, it’s all the parts that aren’t traditional Super Metroid that I like the best about Dread. Dashing, sliding, mêlée counters… This is Mercury Steam so of course there are gonna be QTEs.♥

QTEs can be really awful for two reasons (or I guess kinda the same reason explained two ways). One, they make gameplay feel samey. They reduce all gameplay to Dance Dance Guitar Hero style “time button X right Y plus to this beat please”. Two, they make gameplay feel very symbolic and extradiegetic: they lessen the feel of “OK, I’ll shoot, I’ll bash, I’ll run” and turn it into “I’ll hit A, then X, then down” cold and boring reality.

In Dread, they’ve fixed it (some of this started in Samus Returns). All timed events are X button, all timed events are bashing with Samus’ arm, all bashing is the X button. It’s a 1:1:1 correspondence which turns it from feeling playing Parappa da Rappa (which their earlier game, Mirror of Fate, did) to “Aw, I’ll bash it when it gets close enough”. I.e. awesomely tense and immersive.

I also found the sneaking and dodging and running from E.M.M.I.s to be really fun.

I loved all the sliding and bashing and dashing. The Aeon flash ability was also really fun. I like Igavania games, I like how the control feels as you’re dodging and weaving and flying around.

What caused me to nope out was the Shinespark and Grapple beams. Sorry, Super fans, but I just never could get used to them and this implementation doesn’t feel better, it has all the same problems.

Then all the problems of traditional Metroidvania gated exploration started rearing their heads. The old “You need a Frobnicator Ray to pass these Frobnicated blocks. Is this awesome? y/n” problem.

It’s no secret that I have a problem with traditional Metroidvania. Many of my favorite games are Metroidvanias, but that’s in spite of these features, not because of them.

So then I dug out my old copy of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which I still haven’t finished, and played it some more, making it from just after one boss to the next. I was having such a blast with the way Miriam moves and the richness and solid implementations of all the items. And, while Dread’s controller felt like it was getting more and more cluttered and control-meta-cokebottle as I was unlocking more and more beams and rays and aeons, RotN’s controls are elegant and flexible with their shard setup, swapping shortcuts, and weapon techniques. And then I beat the next boss on the first try just as I had the last, and then died in a death spiral from some corridor weenie. Ugh. I guess RotN has some balance issues. I’m really bad at video games for having played them for so long, but, I might’ve stumbled onto a spell or something that’s really good against bosses.

Oh well. Back to visual novels and card games.♥