The producer of Metroid Dread, Yoshio Sakamoto, recently gave an interview with the Japanese magazine Famitsu concerning the game’s controversial difficulty. The game was only released in October 2021 for the Nintendo Switch and has been a hit with players, despite its arduous moments.
In the interview, Sakamoto discussed how developers decided on the right difficulty level for Metroid Dread. The game’s producer explained how the almost unrelenting E.M.M.I’s are created so players will improve over time, finding them easier to beat with the more experience gamers gain against them. This mirrors Samus’ journey against the E.M.M.I’s as the stronger she becomes with collected power-ups, the more easily she is able to take on the menacing robots.
When asked about the game’s quick pace Sakamoto responded, “We’ve made a lot of Metroid at this point and thought a lot about what the appropriate tempo for each game is. 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.” For reference, the total Metroid franchise consists of eleven games.
The report also touched on how difficult it is to balance difficulty in a game, with the interviewer praising Metroid Dread for being “quick and easy to control.” Sakamoto commented, “We got used to the difficulty during development which made it hard to understand how it would feel as a new player. 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 the 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.”
Lastly, the interview brings up how being caught by an E.M.M.I. can cause many players to seek revenge against the robots. Sakamoto said concerning this, “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.” This element of the game has definitely motivated players to continue playing, logging several hours in Metroid Dread.
How have you found the difficulty in Metroid Dread? It certainly doesn’t seem to be a big issue considering the game’s 88/100 score on Metacritic.