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Metroid Dread lands on the Nintendo Switch after nearly 19 years of speculation about the next chapter of the series. At first blush, the Metroid franchise may not seem like a horror game, but the series is rooted in strange, isolated areas and lurking danger. it is the most horror-driven series in Nintendo’s holdings outside of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and the chances of a new installment or even re-release of that game are about as thin as the atmospheres of the worlds Samus Aran explores in the Metroid series.

But what about Metroid Dread? Horror-discussion aside, how is the game? Is this a game that was worth waiting nearly two decades for?

What is Metroid Dread?

Metroid Dread is the sixth entry in the classic Metroid franchise. The series spun off in the Gamecube era with Metroid Prime – a first-person series. The classic Metroid style of gameplay is an action survival series where players control the lone, armor-clad Samus Aran as she runs missions for the Galactic Federation and often tangles with dangerous parasitic aliens – initially the Metroids, but later the X parasites. The games are 2D with Samus utilizing a variety of powerful abilities and weapons to fend off hostile environments, technology, and aliens.

Metroid Dread does not stray far from the formula, which is probably for the best as it is a formula that people still very much crave. The Metroidvania genre, a portmanteau of Metroid and Castlevania, is still quite alive and well, with many independent games of the genre, like Hollow Knight, finding critical and commercial success.


Metroid Dead takes the initially expected gameplay of the series but adds in the wrinkle of more survival-oriented sections where Samus can do little against a nearly invincible enemy. This creates a new flow of gameplay and results in extremely tense moments of gameplay.

Metroid Dread (Switch) screenshot of Samus Aran in a new suit
Samus has never looked cooler… well, wait until later on in the game as she rebuilds her armor.

What Works With Metroid Dread

The shift in gameplay in Metroid Dread is interesting. Moments of exploration and puzzle-solving utilizing Samus’ vast array of abilities tied to her suit are generally the most relaxing aspects of the game. Exploring and back-tracking as the mercy of Samus’ abilities as they are recovered creates a number of environmental puzzles. It is especially fun when you make note of areas you explore to come back to later when you recognize you need a specific ability. The shift, however, comes from the E.M.M.I. zones.

The E.M.M.I. are the most significant figures in the game’s branding outside of Samus Aran, and for good reason, as you see them a lot. Perhaps, more to the point, you hear them a lot. The game creates moments where exploration gives way to stealth in E.M.M.I.-specific chambers where Samus must utilize stealth and acrobatics to avoid a nearly invulnerable enemy. These robots will hunt Samus down at high speed with unnerving movements and make loud, bat-like echolocation chirps. It gets bad enough that even the sound of an E.M.M.I. somewhere in the zone is enough to unnerve you. Raising the tension, these robots are relentless and will result in an instant game over 99% of the time, as the parry window when caught is unnervingly limited. It is a fascinating role reversal in a series where Samus is the defacto badass and warrior and flips the series on its head.

It helps that the controls and genuinely tight for both styles of gameplay. Samus has never controlled better with incredibly cool abilities that showcase her agility, but also capable of illustrating her sheer power. The relatively new parry-system, an upgrade from Samus Returns, works wonderfully here and can be done on the move. If you want to play an aggressive Samus you totally can, and it works. But just as fun can be the defensive and evasive Samus who can use stealth, the morph-ball, and sliding to get around zones while being chased.

The game’s atmosphere and presentation are also the best in the series so far. The attention to detail to Samus’s motion, even on a 2D plane are impressive. When going into aiming mode you can make out her pose changes by the context of the environment and obstacles, such as holding onto walls to steady herself as she aims. The game is also gorgeous. While the Switch is not a powerhouse system, Nintendo’s focus on art design makes up for the technical lack, especially character and creature designs. This may be the coolest Samus has ever looked.

The animal-like E.M.M.I. can be the stuff of nightmares.

What Didn’t Work With Metroid Dread

With the increased functionality afforded to a seemingly more agile Samus Aran, the controls can be confusing in an E.M.M.I. encounter. Between sliding, the morph-ball, and shinesparking you may find yourself inevitably mixing up buttons or triggering the wrong action. Not that it is the fault of the game, per se, but the abundance of options in a high-intensity scenario like an E.M.M.I. chase can prove overwhelming at times, and may be overly punishing given the low chance of an escape once caught. Mercifully, the game helps reduce the frustration by returning Samus just outside of the zone upon a game over, whereas elsewhere returning her to the last save room on a game over. It is a reasonable accommodation for sequences that essentially strip Samus of her power.

One of the more annoying hallmarks of the series continues in Metroid Dread with the destructible walls. While many can be identified by paying close attention to the environment, there are others where the clues are so subtle that you may not be able to detect them without firing missiles all over the place. This is rare, but it still happens. Something things never change. Another issue is somewhat punishing bosses which often feel repetitive within their own fights with not as much variation and differing phases in each encounter. You’ll find yourself pelting a boss with so many missiles you may be asking yourself “how is this thing still not dead?”


Unfortunately, the music doesn’t live up to the heights of previous titles. While many tunes in Metroid are minimal, fitting the alien environments, there are still some fantastic melodies present. it feels less like the case here. The most iconic tunes still seem to be series staples carried through the series. Nothing that lives to the height of Ganadrayda’s Theme in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption or the classic Brinstar theme.

Samus’ adventure carries shocking revelations for fans of the series.

Bottom Line

An anticipated return to a series that hardcore fans have clamored for close to 20 years that lives up to the hype. This is definitely an evolution in presentation and atmosphere, but it still retains enough classic gameplay that will appeal to fans and more hardcore gamers. Casual players may find themselves a little more challenged compared to most games these days, but that probably makes the rewards all the better.

Now, hopefully, we won’t have to wait another decade or two for a follow-up. At least we know Metroid Prime 4 is on the way. If you have a Switch, get Metroid Dread and play it a couple of times and really take in the love and attention to the franchise developer MercurySteam put into it.

Metroid Dread was developed by MercurySteam and published by Nintendo. You can purchase Metroid Dread wherever video games are sold (note we are an Amazon affiliate, so we may earn money if you purchase through that link) or via the Nintendo eShop. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Have you had a chance to dive beneath the surface of planet ZDR? What do you think about the latest chapter in the Metroid series? Let us know in the comments.


David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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Review: A Plague Tale series



Asobo Studios A Plague Tale series consisting of Innocence (2019) and Requiem (2022) has been out for a while. Weirdly enough, I struggled to put my thoughts into words about these games until now. The way I see it, it’s impossible to talk about one without the other, so let’s dive in, shall we?

Plot and characters


The story of A Plague Tale games takes loose inspiration from the Black Plague times with a touch of the Hundred Years’ War. Amicia and Hugo are siblings on the run from soldiers while also fighting off infected rats, meeting allies along the way. A huge theme of Innocence is Amicia finding a solution for Hugo’s long-term sickness. As one would suspect, it turns out to be connected to the plague itself. Amicia also goes from being a disconnected older sister to his biggest protector throughout the game. 

Promotional poster, Amicia is facing away from the camera looking at a scenery of the river.
Source: Focus Entertainment

Hugo himself is more or less an annoying kid who wants his mother. This is frankly a realistic characterization as he actually speaks and acts as a child would act. Granted, him essentially walking into the Pope’s trap is frustrating but the climax needed to be set up somehow. I also enjoyed Lucas’s character as an alchemist apprentice as he proved to be one of the more consistent helpers to the duo. 


While Innocence ends on a hopeful note, with the characters on the verge of starting over somewhere new and the plague contained, Requiem shows this was a fake out. The sequel really puts Amicia through her paces. Her character is broken both physically and mentally to the point where she is barely recognizable. Hugo is more mature, although his insistence on this magical island that will fix the Macula issue is an immediate red flag. It’s not surprising the supposed safe haven turns into hell quite quickly. 

The generational curse where the protector and carrier story repeats itself means a tragic ending for our protagonists. This means it can feel fruitless to play the two installments as the whole point of Amecia’s journey is to protect Hugo at all costs, which proves to be impossible. Was it because of certain choices they made or just extremely unfortunate circumstances? Either way, I felt horrible for them both while playing Requiem, so at least it invoked a strong emotion in me. 



The series is a third-person stealth adventure with survival horror elements. Innocence has a clear-cut mechanic that relies on Amicia sneaking past or distracting threats with a certain number of puzzles to get past the rats. She is also extremely vulnerable, dying from one enemy hit, forcing the player to start all over. This is something Requiem updates, adding the opportunity for you to recover by running away from the enemy. 

It can be frustrating to have to restart a whole section because of one mistake. However, it does make the player think methodically about what the best approach is. I found the challenges a tad repetitive which stopped me from binge-playing the game, but that’s just my opinion. 

Overall thoughts


After taking this time to digest my feelings towards A Plague Tale games, I can still vouch for the amazing experience. The historical aspects are endearing, and the graphics are beautiful, as is the score. The scriptwriters knew what kind of emotional punches would hit the players just right and the voice actors really gave it all. It’s obvious a lot of love went into this project and I am grateful to have played it. 

Amicia is holding Hugo's hand and they are walking towards a foggy village.
Source: Steam

Regardless, there were certain aspects of the story that for me personally, did not sit right. I am not a massive fan of a tragedy that ends, well, in tragedy, especially with hints history will repeat itself again. The entire concept of the ‘greater good’ and the main characters sacrificing their happiness has been done before and while I can understand why they went that way, it also left me feeling a bit empty. 


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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The Last of Us: Episode 7: Left Behind



The Last of Us series is winding down with only three episodes left. Directed by Liza Johnson and written by Neil Druckmann, “Left Behind” adapts the video game’s DLC story of the same name. Ellie and Joel are hiding out in a basement, and Joel is suffering greatly from his stabbing. He orders Ellie to go back to Tommy and leave him behind, but she’s reluctant. The episode cuts to a flashback of the events that happened before Ellie and Joel met, thus beginning the sweet, tragic backstory of our young protagonist.

First Love

Ellie is stuck in a FEDRA boarding school in Boston. Her best friend and roommate, Riley, ran away a few weeks back and Ellie has been grieving the loss. She gets into fights with classmates and even sends one girl to the infirmary to get 15 stitches. Everything changes when Riley suddenly returns and reveals she joined the Fireflies, the organization FEDRA is training students to fight and kill.


Ellie disapproves of her friend’s choices, but there isn’t anything she can say that will change Riley’s mind. However, as a sort of apology for leaving without saying goodbye, Riley asks Ellie to sneak out for a few hours and join her on a little adventure. Ellie reluctantly agrees.

The two sneak into an abandoned mall that was once used to hoard infected. Now it is filled with wonders and surprises beyond the youths’ wildest dreams. The girls connect like they haven’t been separated for weeks, and their chemistry is sweet and wholesome. Riley gives Ellie an array of gifts, from a photo booth and carousel ride to an arcade with Mortal Kombat and a brand new pun book.

All Good Things End

The evening comes to a halt when Riley reveals the Fireflies are sending her to the Atlanta base and this is her last night in Boston. Ellie is furious and runs away, fully intended on returning back to her dorm room. But she only gets so far before caving into her feelings and running back to Riley. They reunite in a Halloween store, where they wear goofy wolf and clown masks (replicas of the game’s masks) and dance to Etta James’ “I Got You Babe.” They share a kiss and the moment is so delicate.

The abandoned mall

Everything is perfect until it’s not.

An infected emerges into the store and attacks the girls. Riley shoots it and Ellie stabs it to death, but neither are unscathed. The clicker bit both of them. At the moment, any and all hope has been destroyed.

The Verdict

HBO’s “Left Behind” is the show’s truest adaptation of the video game thus far. The show cuts out the parts of the video game where Ellie roams through a mall and evades hunters as she searches for a first aid kit for Joel. Instead, The Last of Us focuses on Ellie’s history with her best friend and first love, Riley.

Just as Bella Ramsey is the perfect casting for Ellie, Storm Reid is perfect as Riley. The actors’ chemistry maintains the game’s charm; their portrayal of teenagers after an apocalyptic pandemic is pure and authentic. For the first time, Ellie and Riley can act like the kids they are, not the soldiers every adult is training them to be. It is endearing to see their relationship come to life.

Ellie’s backstory mirrors Joel’s in that it emphasizes their experiences of loss and grief. The pair have formed a connection they cannot lose. It is because of this that, at the end of “Left Behind,” Ellie goes against Joel’s wishes and stays with him to help him heal. She had to leave one friend behind before and she refuses to do it again.

“Left Behind” deserves five out of five Cthulhu. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


There are only just a few episodes left in The Last of Us. Episode 8 releases Sunday, March 5, where we should expect to meet the notorious cult leader, Dave. Until then, check out the other shows and games we’re loving here at HauntedMTL.

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The Last of Us: Episode 6: Kin



Joel reunites with Tommy in The Last of Us‘ sixth episode, “Kin.” It was written by Craig Mazin and directed by Jasmila Žbanić, who take us to Jackson, Wyoming, a town with electricity, hot water and community. It’s a reality that feels like a dream. After worrying so long about where Tommy was, it turns out he is in better shape than Joel could have ever imagined.

Moving Forward

It’s been a few months since Henry and Sam’s deaths, and Joel and Ellie have finally reached Tommy’s rumored location. But it’s not just Tommy who’s doing well for himself; his younger brother has a new wife, Maria (Rutina Wesley). Together they help run the whole town, taking turns doing patrol and other maintenance that keeps the town running. The Last of Us‘ set design of Jackson is akin to the second video game; in the first game, Tommy and Maria were still working on the getting the town running and nowhere near as accomplished. This minor adjustment adds a new immersive experience to the show, and emphasizes Joel’s qualms about how competent he is to take care of Ellie.

The town of Jackson, Wyoming

While Joel and Tommy reconnect, Maria brings Ellie into her home and let’s her take a shower and gives her a brand new period cup as a present. It is with Maria that Ellie discovers Joel had a daughter who died at the beginning of the outbreak in 2003.


Joel and Tommy reconnect in a bar, where Joel begins to wonder if Ellie would be better off finishing the route with Tommy in his place. Joel confesses that Ellie is immune and needs to reach a medical center in Colorado. Joel recounts everything he’s done wrong, how he’s not equip to take Ellie any further and protect her. He asks Tommy to do the journey for him, but Maria is pregnant and Tommy is reluctant to take such a drastic risk. After more pleading, Joel finally convinces Tommy to take Ellie. A new plan is set for the next day.

Ellie, however, overheard this conversation between the two brothers and is disappointed with Joel. He’s the only person he trusts, and he betrayed her. Ellie argues that she “is not Sarah,” to which Joel counters, “I sure as hell ain’t your dad.” Whether she likes it or not, she’s going with Tommy.

Tommy and Joel reunite

Changing Places

The next morning, Ellie sits in her bedroom and is greeted with disappointment when Tommy opens the door and asks if she’s ready to leave. She reluctantly says yes, and they head to the stables where Joel is prepping a horse. He tells Ellie that she should have a decision in the matter, and she immediately chooses Joel. They move forward to Colorado.

The duo eventually reaches an abandoned university in Colorado and discover the Fireflies are now located at a medical center in Utah. Suddenly, an ambush hits. Joel and Ellie are able to fight their attackers off, but one manages to stab Joel in the stomach before falling to his death. Ellie helps Joel onto the horse and they ride far enough away to safety. However, Joel can only go so far before he succumbs to the stabbing and falls off the horse. The episode ends with a horrified Ellie, trying in desperation to resuscitate him, but he cannot wake up.

The Verdict

Just like the video game, HBO’s The Last of Us is more than just a show about “zombies” or violence. It implements empathetic writing and various cinematic elements to study personhood and the human connection in dire times. Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin do a phenomenal job writing scripts for characters fans can connect to and love no matter how long they exist on screen.

Joel and Ellie reach Utah

Bill and Frank, Henry and Sam, and Tommy and Maria only exist in one or two episodes. Yet their impact is enormous, shaping the world in a way our two main protagonists could not do alone. While in theory they may just be supporting characters, The Last of Us finds a way to make them more than that. They are characters that stick with you long after they’re gone.

The filmmaking also cannot go unnoticed. From the intricate set designs to the natural outdoor world, the camera continues to bring the beloved video game to life through intimate still shots, timely cuts and a gorgeous score to support emotional scenes. The show also knows when to have fun with itself by including little Easter eggs, like when Ellie yells at a girl staring at her (a girl who looks quite similar to Dina in The Last of Us 2.) This is a rather slow part in the game (minus the various shootout sequences), and there is little to no action in episode six. This further proves The Last of Us‘ strength of a well-made series that benefits from creative liberties and changes, while still staying true to the source material. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Until next time, check out the other shows and games we’re loving here at HauntedMTL.


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