Hey, your review is really good, and it helped me crystalize my thoughts on the game! The subtlety of the guidance the game gives you is great! When it’s working right, it can give you the same rush you get in Super Metroid. When you don’t know where to go, you open the map to find any areas that haven’t been fully explored yet, and then set out to see if that’s the way forward. In Dread you’re basically always going in the right direction, so you avoid the frustration of feeling like you’ve gone through the same rooms over and over without making any progress. That’s a good trade-off in my book!
I think that this game is clearly in dialogue with more recent entries in the genre as well! There are some really great boss fights in Dread that had me thinking this is as good as a Hollow Knight boss fight, which is superlative praise as far as I’m concerned.
There are bunch of other things I like about this game too! The little animations of animals and machines moving in the background as you explore rooms makes the game feel expansive in a way that 2-D Metroid haven’t in the past. The aesthetic in general is an exquisite homage to pulpy sci-fi tv shows and book covers, with some backgrounds looking like elaborate matte paintings. The game plays like a dream too, with everything feeling so kinetic and acrobatic. It’s just a great game!