Nintendo Switch

Metroid producer explains why Samus is mostly silent in Metroid Dread

GameSpot has published a wide ranging interview with Metroid Dread producer Yoshio Sakamoto. One of the questions in the interview put forward to Mr. Sakamoto was why is Samus a mostly silent protagonist in the Metroid Dread as a growing number of games have started voicing lead characters, but in Metroid Dread, Samus Aran barely speaks. Mr. Sakamoto explained that the team wanted to create a dark, dismal, and dreaded atmosphere, and preferred using the visuals and cutscenes to play the part rather than relying on voice acting. He concluded by saying that the team wanted to make the player to think, “What is going on? What is Samus feeling right now?”

Why go back to having Samus as a mostly silent protagonist? She doesn’t have her Metroid Fusion elevator thoughts or Other M monologues anymore.

In this game, Samus barely speaks. The reason that I wanted to make it that way is the main theme of this game, which is dread. I felt that to convey the current situation of Samus or what Samus is thinking right now, this would be better conveyed to the player not through actual words or actual voice, but more with acting or visuals. I want the player to think, “What is going on? What is Samus feeling right now?” That is why I decided to go this way for this game.

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24 comments

  1. In other words they knew Other M screwed things so the less she talks the best in their eyes

    1. Other m wasn’t terrible for me but it made Samus seem a bit too vulnerable instead of a strong lead character. Fusions did a great job imo, I haven’t played dread yet but it’s a shame to hear they didn’t implement something similar.

      I’m not a fan of silent protagonists and wish that tradition would die already lol

      1. Yeah I’m not a fan of silent characters either. This is why I want characters like her to speak instead of speaking with a scream or grins in the game. The character behind the scream who voices her is Nikki García in the game.

      2. Silent protagonists will always have a place in gaming.
        I much prefer the “show, don’t tell” approach of games like this, it’s much more subtle and less heavy handed like a lot of other games are.
        A character like Samus really doesn’t need to fully voiced anyway, her actions have always spoken louder than words.

        1. Well, they can still can have a place in any gaming series. They can still can. Her being silent reminds me of SEGA want to keep Classic Sonic silent. Having characters being silent is not really a problem to most people like me.

    2. Actually the tone in Other M doesn’t translate well into English vs Japanese, that being melancholy. Also, Other M was her vulnerable moment that being PTSD which she overcomes.

    3. Man Mos peeps didn’t know until smash bros came out Samus was a Woman. I don’t care for the dialog for her at all. She has always been a silent character. Don’t fix something that ain’t broken. Leave her alone and keep making more games like Dread and Super Metroid. Those r the best 1s ever

  2. I’m of two minds on this. On one hand “show don’t tell” number one rule in story telling, and I love what they are able to convey to me with out words, it leaves me in awe at times, but on the other hand I loved the vulnerability we got to see in fusion. It deepened her character. (I don’t think the problem with other M was vulnerability. I think it was the video game equivalent of over acting) I felt like I got to know the character on a whole new level and because of that fusion is my favorite Metroid game.

    I guess in the end I do want more from Samus, I just want it done well. More fusion less other M

  3. Nintendo has a lot more to lose than they do to gain by making their major characters talk and monologue. No matter how it is written, it isn’t going to match the headcanon of millions of fans built up over a lifetime’s worth of silent characters. So its either slightly disappoint a small number of people, or greatly enrage half your customers.

    As an example,several people here seem just fine with Samus in Other M being “vulnerable” and suffering PTSD. I’m not telling you that you should feel otherwise, but it should be quite obvious that a whole LOT of people would utterly despise that character direction. So you’re Nintendo. What’s your choice? Silent protag, or pick sides in the fan wars?

  4. It works for the genre. You don’t want the character to express fear, dread, or melancholy. You want the player to FEEL it. When the player feels it, the player then has a true connection to the character.

  5. Honestly, I think the silent protagonist role suits Samus quite well. It makes her look like the strong focus type with higher skill levels at handling any situation, which is basically who Samus is in a nutshell, is quite fitting to her character. The idea to just leave the players to imagine what Samus’ inner thoughts could be mixes well with the elements of mystery and surprise which is basically the main formula behind designing a Metroid game.

  6. I wanted Fusion level dialogue with voice-overs. Very disappointed we didn’t get that. It’s odd people support silent protags when you know the character can talk yet there is no in-game explanation as to why they are quiet. Least BOTW tells you why Link is silent if you actually explore & find Zelda’s journal. In Dread, no explanation whatsoever. Not even a hint. Adam could have simply mentioned how Samus has been silent ever since her fight with the Chozo. Boom. Done. That one line could have given you some general in-game ideas as to why she’s quiet. Either have her talk a lot more than she did or not at all. I guess Other M made them too scared to try again. Much like how those horrible CD-i games & that Zelda cartoon almost kept Ninty from never adding voice-overs to an official Zelda game. I guess it’ll be 25+ years b4 we get a talking Samus again, if ever.

    That said, this excuse is stupid. You can still instill fear & dread in the player without silencing the main character for 99% of the game. Movies do it all the time. Plenty of horror games do it, too. Having Samus talk during cutscenes is not gonna break immersion. Now if she was screaming at the top of her lungs & saying corny shit while you’re being chased by an EMMI, then that’s a problem. shrug It’s whatever, though. Game was still awesome. I just wish Ninty employees would quit answering questions they have stupid, bullshit, or crap answers for.

    1. She doesn’t NEED to talk throughout the game though. You all keep talking about how having her talk “wouldn’t take away from the experience”, but what exactly would making her talk ADD to the experience? Why bother making a traditionally silent protagonist talk when it wouldn’t add anything of value?

      The Fusion dialogue was pointless at the best of times and didn’t really add much to her character or the atmosphere of the game. If anything, it took me more out of the experience considering her lines were generic af.

      It’s not an “excuse” from the developers either, it’s an intentional design decision, they literally explain that in the interview. Like I said in another comment on here, it’s the “show, don’t tell” approach of story telling. I don’t want to hear Samus telling me how scary the situation is every 30 minutes of the game, I want to be SHOWN how scary it is instead. Have the game install that same sense of “Dread” in me, the player. This is why people support silent protagonists.

      The same holds true for a lot of horror games as well, there’s far too many horror games out there that try to shoehorn in dialogue at every given opportunity, and end up completely ruining the atmostphere. If there’s even a chance of them screwing it up in that way (like they did in Other M), I’d much rather the devs just keep her silent.
      And did you seriously just compare a 2D Platforming game to a movie? They’re completely different forms of art.

      1. Storytelling is storytelling. It doesn’t matter what art form it’s added to. In fact, storytelling in itself is an art. And I didn’t say she needs to talk throughout the game. Or mention how scary it is every 30 minutes. That’s dumb. I’d rather Ninty not answer the question & give some response unrelated to the question (like a few Ninty guys have done before in the past) than hear some asinine excuse. I’d rather they have just admitted that Other M’s dialogue was garbage & they were afraid to do it again for the final entry in the Metroid arc of the franchise. That would have been a far better explanation out-of-game as to why she’s silent. Still doesn’t change the fact the game needed an in-game reason why she’s quiet when we know she can talk. Being a silent protag is not an in-game reason.

        1. Except it very much does matter. A movie is a story-heavy medium, whereas most games (including the Metroid series) are instead focused on gameplay. The only time a comparison like that would be accurate is when talking about the “movie” games that Sony and the like put out. Not Dread lmao.

          I really don’t understand why you find this so hard to understand. It’s not an “asinine excuse”, it’s a genuine design philosophy. They were asked why Samus is silent in this game, and they gave a valid reason for it. Enough said.
          Actually read the reason they’ve given for it, rather than pushing your own theory for why it’s this way.

          Did all the other Metroid’s need reason for why Samus is silent 99% of the time?
          No, they didn’t. And they didn’t need to.
          She’s a bounty hunter on a deadly mission through a dangerous, alien planet. I doubt she’d be in a particulary talkative mood, funnily enough. She doesn’t speak unless it’s something that actually needs saying, that’s the kind of character she is.

          1. I’ve been a Ninty gamer for decades. I know just how egotistical this company can be & how they refuse to admit fault sometimes. Look no further than their denial of the drift issues in Joy-cons. They haven’t changed that much from their days of trying to control every facet of the industry back in the late 80s & early 90s. I see their reason for Samus being silent. Still doesn’t mean it can’t be an excuse to hide the real reason. Hell! A person can have more than one reason for doing something. If they wanted Samus to remain silent, they never should have made her open her mouth in the first place. But now that they have, they shouldn’t be so surprised when people have an issue with her going back to being silent & try to come up with reasons why they ditched it. Because the truth is: companies are still ran by humans & sometimes humans lie.

            1. With all due respect, almost nothing you’ve said there has ANYTHING to do with what we’re talking about here. I know company’s lie, but this really isn’t that kind of situation. They’re just discussing design philosophy.
              You’re just randomly assuming that they have something to hide here, when there’s really nothing to suggest that at all. Not to be rude, but you’re coming across as a bit of a conspiricy theorist here.

              You’re just digging way too into this, they just thought a silent protagonist would be more suitable for the kind of game they were creating, and honestly I completely agree with them.

              If you ask me, they really shouldn’t have made Samus talk in the first place, but that doesn’t mean they’re now stuck with making her talk from now on if they no longer think it’s a good idea.
              It’s not like she talked THAT much in ther previous games either, they just scaled back her dialogue from Fusion a bit. It’s really not that big of a deal.

              1. There’s always that one retarded human. If ya can’t contribute to the conversation or want to be a bitch/asshole/whatever, don’t speak. We get enough of that on Twit-ter, ReeeesetEra, Facedumb, etc.

  7. I think that Samus being silent actually makes the game better because it really helps add to how mysterious the game is and also makes the game more dreadful as she figures out everything thats going on. But I do still wish there was dialogue and more dialogue at certain points in the game. But this opinion for me is twords this Metroid game only.

  8. I haven’t gotten entirely through the game yet, but the one line of dialogue Samus has was just enough. It was all she needed to say, and in Chozo language no less. I’m still floored that they went so far as to make a language and managed to not make it campy and half-assed like the dinosaur language in Star Fox Adventures (they’d say things in that made-up language but then names and items would still be said in English).

    1. That’s not too abnormal, though. Sometimes a language doesn’t have a word for something so they say it in that word’s origin language. Hence why people’s names are in english or whatever language they originated from.

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