All this considered it rarely feels like a remake; for the most part, you'll think you're playing a completely new entry. A couple of additional modern touches that might feel irreverent to fans, at first sight at least, are the map scanner (one of those Aeion features), the teleport points, and perhaps the quick checkpoint system. However, all make for a more pleasant experience, most of the time. It's a bit of a spoiler to know there's a hidden upgrade nearby, but it's also cool to scan the rooms like in Metroid Prime in search of breakable blocks, and it doesn't tone down the sense of exploration too much as you still have to find ways and solutions to grab your rewards. In terms of teleporting it's the same; backtracking is still a must, so it's just a way to travel quickly between already cleared areas. And those quick "retry" points might prove useful when you're facing a Metroid room and don't want to walk from the (sometimes distant) last save point. In this regard, the option to add your own custom markers to the map is a really welcome addition.
However, and not only due to these navigation features, you rarely feel that usual urge to reach the next save point in the same way as you did in, say, Metroid 3 and 4. Nor the thrill when tackling bosses. Nor the absolute dread when the SA-X chased you in Fusion. It's not a matter of difficulty, as in our opinion it's well balanced, but more a matter of not achieving the truly thrilling and mysterious design found in other entries. Perhaps this actually has to do with it being a reimagining of the second entry, as it's clear the talent is there to produce a bit more excitement.
In this regard, the blandest design choice here is the Metroid hunt. There's a bunch of mutated creatures that you have to find and take down around the map to get their DNA sequence and to consequently unlock new areas, and even if the collect-a-ton approach makes for more open, free-roaming navigation (as much as it can, given your current abilities and constraints), the encounters themselves are dull and repetitive, far from the quality of the rest of the experience.
Other than that it's a truly enjoyable and thoroughbred Metroid, and in terms of visuals the 3D re-imagining not only adds an impressive stereoscopic depth effect; it also allowed the designers to create much richer environments, full of details across their several layers, and a stronger identity compared to the old school sprite patterns (there are large open rooms, or endless corridors going into the background). Texture quality takes a hit, but it's smooth, clean and, again, the animation impresses. And both music and the very fitting sound effects do a great job too.
The game is well paced, you gain abilities fast, and the moment you start to feel powerful the difficulty increases significantly, as it should. Samus Returns when fans needed it, and she does it in the best possible way: a classic, pure Metroid experience with a good range of well-thought, smart modern additions that plays better than ever. It's a better Metroid game than the latest interpretations, and Mercury Steam has proven that they have the talent, the love and the respect to bring the series to both old and new audiences, and we'd love to see them tackling more side-scrolling entries... or, why not, the game still shrouded in mystery: Metroid Prime 4.