I beat hard mode in under four hours in an any % run (obviously no problem when I already beat it 100% in 4:36 before) and unlocked the last images of the gallery. I have to say that Zero Suit Samus is drawn like bad fan art.
Also, reading all of the people's post in this thread, it's certain that I was among the people who needed the least attempts at boss fights and was most likely the fastest one to clear the game on the first playthrough. Despite giving up on the final boss after four tries and going back to collect items, I still finished in 8:06 with 86% of the items; wrapping up that same file to beat the final boss with 100% item collection added less than an hour for a total of 9:03.
After four playthroughs, of which three were with 100%, here are my pros and cons for Metroid Dread.
+ Well-paced progression in non-sequence-breaking play
+ 100% item collection is alright, nowhere near as tedious as in Samus Returns
+ Both of the above points ensure great replay value in conjunction with possible sequence-breaking
+ Graphics and artstyle convince
+ Music is atmospheric...
- ...but at the same time it lacks the oomph of memorable themes like all great Metroid games have
- Difficulty balance is off by a bit, namely certain bosses
- Checkpoint system was the only way to make the more frustrating parts (E.M.M.I.) bearable
- Analog stick controls for movement in a 2D game come at the cost of precision
- Exploration isn't rewarding enough (too many good items on the direct path, too few in optional spots)
Final Score: 9/10
Some may notice that that is a point higher than before. I have reconsidered because of how the bar for quality has been moved since Zero Mission 17 years ago. The thing is, we haven't really seen games that have surpassed Fusion or Zero Mission in all this time, so the one game that has come closest to them might as well get the same score from me to credit the effort that has been made. Among the negatives I've listed above, point 2 to 4 are things you get used to eventually, so they aren't so bad when lined up with point 3 of the positives. Replay value is an often overlooked factor in game reviews despite being a highly crucial one in the Metroid genre*, but Dread manages to deliver in that category and that's what easily puts it above everything we've seen in the past 17 years.
*I've decided to stop saying Metroidvania genre, because while the original Metroid and Castlevania II were released around the same time, the latter was a game that sucked a lot. It wasn't until Symphony of the Night that the Castlevania series made another attempt and that was well after the first three Metroid games were released and had laid all the groundwork for the genre. But in fairness, the spin on the Metroid formula that features EXP and character equipment should be called the Castlevania-RPG genre or something like that. The term Metroidvania is kinda like mixing 2D and 3D platformers together; while there are notable similarities, there are also notable differences.