For better or worse, Metroid Dread’s difficulty has been a common topic of discussion since the action-adventure game’s launch. While some welcome the presence of a real threat, others lament the harshness of Dread’s E.M.M.I. encounters, which regularly see protagonist Samus running and jumping for her life to avoid the deadly robots’ one-hit kills.
According to Producer Yoshio Sakamoto, who recently discussed the topic with Japanese publication Famitsu (translated by Nintendo Everything), the gameplay and level design were crafted in such a way that players have everything to help Samus outmaneuver her enemies.
“We’ve made a lot of Metroid at this point and thought a lot about what the appropriate tempo for each game is,” Sakamoto says. “For Metroid Dread, we tuned the action to be appropriately quick. The game design of each Metroid complements the action and this time, this time it’s very easy to control, something I’m personally a fan of. I think this might be the best action we’ve seen in a Metroid game.”
Sakamoto continues to explain how the E.M.M.I.’s brutal nature is very much by design to evoke dread in the player, as the game’s very title reflects.
“We got used to the difficulty during development which made it hard to understand how it would feel as a new player,” he explains. “Balancing is difficult no matter the game, but both Nintendo and MercurySteam were determined to get the action elements feeling smooth. E.M.M.I. is unlike anything that’s been done before and we got lots of people to play it so we could tweak appropriate balance for an action game. One of the things we focused on was to make sure when a player hits a game over, they know what to try on their next attempt. As an example: If you make it so that E.M.M.I. doesn’t catch a player all that often, or when they are caught, they can escape quickly, you can’t really express the dread of E.M.M.I., which is a core component of the game.”
In a previous interview in November 2021, Sakamoto stated that he is interested in continuing to work on the franchise. He said that he doesn’t think Metroid Dread will be the “ultimate end” to the series and pledged “to do what I have to do” as long as fans continue to love Samus Aran.
Metroid Dread is available now exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
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