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So this review is mostly going to be negative, but I want to make it clear that this is still a good game. I gave this a 7 for a reason, and honestly it might be an 8. This is at least in the top half of 2D Metroids and I'd recommend it for fans of the series, or really just anyone wanting to try a Metroidvania (though the plot falls flat if you don't have a background with the series).
This game is a sequel to 2002's Metroid Fusion. That might seem obvious, but I mean it in a way that goes beyond just the literal franchise it is in. Metroid Dread takes a lot of queues from Fusion, which is interesting because Fusion was a departure from the rest of the series.
The map design in Metroid Dread is built like a video game. What I mean by this is that when going through the map you can literally feel the developers funneling you towards certain areas. When I first played this game I ended up getting stuck and having to look online for answers because I took the time to backtrack when the devs really didn't want me to do that, once I caught on to that and started actively thinking "OK, where do the devs want me to go from here?" I did not have any issues with exploration. This might not be an issue for all people but for me this really takes away a lot of what I enjoy the series for. It's a Metroid game without the experience of exploring a world.
Every enviornment feels very samey. I couldn't tell you notable setpieces about any of them that weren't background elements except for maybe some stuff in Ghavorn. Areas all lack identity, both gameplaywise and atmospherically. Unlike Fusion, who went all in on the artificial feel Metroid Dread feels like it doesn't have a solid identity with its maps. They're all very straight and simple, sure, but you aren't constantly reminded of its artificiality like you are in Fusion with the constant level lock doors. This extends to things like sequence breaking, too. In games like Super Metroid even though I logically know things like wall jumping up to get to Kraid without the High-Jump Boots is something the developers 100% intended, it feels like an exploit. It feels like it's just something Samus can do because she's capable. I don't feel that in Dread, even looking up sequence breaks. The sequence breaks in Metroid Dread don't feel like clever use of Samus' abilities, or just an open progression sytsem, but instead developers intentionally putting a thing in for it to be a sequence break. It has the same design as Fusion without taking advantage of those positives.
...At least in the world design. What I'll give Metroid Dread praise for is the gameplay itself. The enemies are admittedly very rinse and repeat and annoying if you don't counter, but waiting for that counter opprotunity is if nothing else a rush that is worth having. Most Metroid games don't put much emphasis on the combat like this, so this is a nice change of pace. The bosses are also very well designed, especially for, again, a series that normally doesn't put much focus on this kind of stuff. The final boss in particular is my favorite in the series and just a good fight in general.
The E.M.M.I. zones I feel obligated to mention even if they aren't really important to this review overall. They did in fact give me a feeling of "dread" my first time around, but after that most of the experiences can be somewhat engaging and fun. The risk-reward element is really emphasized with managing things like the Phantom Cloak meter and your distance from the E.M.M.I.s for noise, but it isn't enough for me to really be talking about how much I love these sections. They're just fine.
I don't know how to end this review. I liked the game, I've beaten it on Normal, Hard, and Dread. Metroid Dread is by all means a good game, but it doesn't feel like a good Metroid game.