Like a lot of people, my gold standard for this stuff is Super Metroid, but now that I’m progressing into this one, it’s gotten pretty good. There’s so many additional buttons and combinations here that it took a bit for the controls to click with me, but once it did, the movement and gunning felt much better than previous 2D Metroids I’ve played.
The complexity of layering in the various locations is really great, though I’d agree with the sentiment that they occasionally don’t feel organically joined together. I also feel like the ads for this game didn’t do a great job of showing how varied some of the locations are, which amounted to a pleasant surprise.
My biggest problem with this game is how talky it can be. My favorite Metroid games have nearly no exposition aside from opening/ending text crawls, so having a living Chozo show up partway through and explain the stakes and villain was kind of a letdown. Part of what I love about Metroid is the feeling of isolation and discovery, and stuff like that pulls me out of it. Returnal really nailed that feeling, even with the inclusion of audio logs and such.
Even if the tone/mood don’t quite get there for me, it’s still a very satisfying Metroid experience as far as puzzle solving and navigation. The boss fights are surprisingly complex, but once I had the patterns down it wasn’t too difficult.
I may replay Super Metroid after this. :)