I’ll cut right to the chase, Dead Cells is a fantastic game on multiple levels. The gameplay is fantastic, the art is freaking amazing, the progression system for unlocking permanent upgrades, making future runs different/easier is great, and I just love it. I had no idea what I was getting into right up until I booted up the game for the first time, and I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to review this game. The premise of the game is that it’s a rogue-lite action platformer (I know, you’ve heard this before, but trust me, it’s really damn good this time. You acquire cells to spend towards unlocking weapons that you’ll be able to find throughout each of your runs, and money to spend on temporary upgrades for that run.
The weapons that you acquire throughout each of your runs vary greatly in style and ability, but there are a few basic categories. You’ve got your melee weapons, which will be your meat and potatoes of combat most of the time. These come in all shapes and sizes like hammers, twin daggers, swords, heavy swords, spears, etc. You’ve got secondary weapons which are usually either shields or some kind of ranged weapon. Even the shields are varied, some allow you to charge enemies, some are great for parrying enemies, and some are just big damage sponges. The ranged weapons can be bows, crossbows, molotov cocktails (called Firebrands), and other goodies.
You also pick up equipment, which are special weapons that have cooldowns, and you can have two at a time, one for each trigger. These things can either make or break you when you’re fighting certain bosses, and having to go up against a boss without finding one (or finding crappy ones) can give you a real challenge. The Ice Grenade and Wolf Trap combo is one of my favorites, because the freezing/trapping effects work on bosses too. You can trap them in the wolf traps, wail on em’, wait for the trap to break, freeze them, smack em up, wait for them to thaw, rinse and repeat. Not every boss is that simple, sometimes they jump around a lot, making it hard to hit them with the traps, but that simply opens the floor to different strategies. Every boss is radically different, too, and highly memorable, which is something I love to see in ANY game.
This is all wrapped up in an absolutely jaw-dropping package that’s got some bangin’ music, and visuals that still blow my mind. Sometimes I honestly can’t tell if objects in the game are 3D objects that are pixelated, or pixel art that’s so amazingly fluid that it looks 3D. There’s so many items to unlock, abilities to find, and secrets in every single level (especially being that they’re randomly generated). The game constantly keeps me guessing and wondering what crazy sh*t I’m going to find in the next level, even if I’ve played it 10 times. You can unlock passive abilities that unlock new pathways to different levels you couldn’t go to before! The game is endlessly entertaining my brain, and I haven’t played anything that made me feel like that in quite some time. Dark Souls comes to mind but I’m not gonna start with this “it’s the Dark Souls of ____” nonsense, even making fun of that line is tired at this point. If any game can keep me happily guessing and entertained every time I pick it up, though, that’s truly something to behold.
Let’s not forget about the fact that you can stream the game on Twitch, and your audience can actively shape how the game works for you! I did this this past weekend over at my Twitch channel (recording of said stream here) and it was an absolute riot when people would tinker with the game while I played. They can become your personal healer and defender in the form of “Mr. Chicken” who is absolutely NOT a chicken. They can vote on what area you’ll go to next, if there are multiple options, and even mutate the following stage. They can vote for things like invisible enemies, poisonous traps everywhere, extra flying enemies, and more horrible things! They can also opt in to become the boss that you’re fighting and unleash absolute hell on you right when you think you have the upper hand. They get to call in special moves that the boss wouldn’t normally have, like summoning a horde of zombies to mess you up. They can also call in a meteor show that makes getting around the boss the worst time ever. It’s very fun though and being able to interact with your viewers on this level is exciting and leads to some pretty great moments!
This is the first time in a while that I can’t honestly think of anything to complain about. I will say that some enemies and enemy placements don’t compliment the fast-paced gameplay very well sometimes. Some enemies take a ton of hits to kill, and thanks to the random placements of them, sometimes they appear in places that aren’t very fun to fight them in. A lot of the treasure chests also don’t feel worth your while to go out of the way for, but that could just be my luck. Most of the time, the best weapons I got were either from bosses or in special hiding spots, never really in chests, though. The scrolls that you get to increase your health and damage with certain weapons are also a little too random. For example, in one run, I got between eight and ten of them before the first boss. In another run, I got two, and had the tiniest little health bar to fight the boss with. Perhaps throwing and extra one at the player between levels would help with this? I don’t know, again, could just be my luck, it just seemed very inconsistent.
The amount of fun I had, however, was very consistent, I highly recommend this game to everyone. The negatives that I mentioned can mostly be attributed to the fact that rogue-lite games have a lot of RNG and that’s just how it is. They don’t detract from the game that much as a result of that, and even on my worst runs, I still had an absolute blast! Check out this game, it is absolutely worth the money, and I hope it does well so that we can continue to see more content for it, as well as other games like it!
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”