At a time when we’ve almost become accustomed to franchises offering diminishing returns over a long enough period of time (especially when they’ve been away for years), it is truly remarkable that Dread not only embraces the fundamentals of the Metroid franchise but expands upon them in ways that could have (maybe should have) been dangerous given that it’s highly likely some of those conventions have historically chased people away.
Ultimately, it’s that “no compromise” approach that truly makes Metroid Dread special and reveals how impactful this game’s success could be.
I think back to when John Carpenter made The Thing and watched its critical and box office failures reshape the trajectory of his career. While he seems grateful that so many people now recognize that The Thing is one of the greatest horror movies ever made, he also sometimes seems at least a tad bitter that people at the time didn’t recognize that he had made something great so that he could have reaped the more immediate benefits of his accomplishments.
With Dread, the team got to say “To hell with it. We know this is a great franchise built on incredible core elements, and we’re not going to pretend that the people who’ve made these games haven’t been making great games all along. If anything, we’re going to double down on what they’ve done.”
Sales success and revenue aren’t necessarily indicative of quality (the opposite is often true), but there’s a reason we all keep an eye on ratings, award shows, and box office returns. On some level, we want people to love the things we love, and on some level, we want to know that other people recognize the greatness of the things we love, especially when we believe they artistically deserve it. Some of that can be traced back to vindication, but some of that is based on the idea that we just want people to give this thing a chance because we know they would love it if they did.
If Metroid Dread proves to be a true blockbuster, it will have helped vindicate over 35 years of Metroid love by proving (in its own way) that the 35 years fans have spent praising this franchise have been in service of helping bring us to this point when Nintendo finally decided to give the series another chance to shine. Fans have fought tooth and nail for a game like Dread to come along, and they now get to enjoy the fruits of their efforts through not just the quality of the game itself but its success so far.