Released in October 2021, Metroid Dread represented a long-awaited return to a Nintendo franchise that hadn’t received an original mainline installment since Metroid: Other M in 2010. An award-winning action platformer that returned the property to its 2D roots while maintaining its Z-axis, Metroid Dread is a new pinnacle in the metroidvania genre. That said, it’s a bit more difficult than the typical Nintendo-published experience, and many series newcomers are worried that they’ve somehow managed to soft-lock themselves within the first hour or two of the game.
For the unfamiliar, a soft-lock refers to a situation from which the player cannot escape brought on either by a glitch or by an oversight on the part of the developer. These issues can sometimes crop up in massive open-ended games like Skyrim or Fallout 3 when the player overwrites a vital save slot deep in a territory for which they are underleveled. Alternatively, games like the original Doom easily allowed players to soft-lock themselves by quicksaving just before the impact of an oncoming projectile.
In games as tightly designed as Metroid Dread, however, soft-locking usually requires exploits of some kind. Still, the path ahead isn’t always obvious, and some obtuse backtracking may be required. In a Reddit thread, user CanaryMarc offers a few suggestions for those new to Metroid Dread’s singular approach to exploration.
“Rule 1 – shoot everything, with missiles as well as your beam” the Redditor commented, following up with “Rule 2 – if you can’t go back, go forward, and eventually you’ll be able to go back” and “Rule 3 – if rule 1 and rule 2 don’t work, look harder.” The post was intended as a response to a torrent of inquiries in the Metroid subreddit questioning how to overcome certain early-game puzzles. As was the case with many previous Metroid games, forward progress may require a return to thoroughly-explored areas.
Metroid Dread may be a well-lauded entry in Nintendo’s long-dormant franchise, but some of its gameplay mechanics may not be immediately obvious to new players. Shooting and bombing walls to uncover hidden passageways will be common practice for Metroid veterans, but green players likely won’t adopt this playstyle until they’re completely stuck.
Metroid Dread also does a good job of making players feel as if they’ve missed out on something. It’s easy to encounter ledges requiring the Grapple Beam or areas requiring the Varia Suit and feel as if the path forward is blocked unintentionally. This is almost never the case, and completely stumped players will need to make note of suspicious areas or points of interest and return to them when they feel stuck to see if they have any new tools with which to potentially uncover new paths forward. It’s an odd mindset to cultivate, but it’s essential to progressing in any metroidvania title.
Metroid Dread is available now for Nintendo Switch.