Dead Cells is a rogue-lite, metroidvania action-platformer developed by Motion-Twin. You explore an expansive and procedurally castle while fighting for your life to continue forward on your adventure. Chocked full of treacherous traps and dangerous enemies you have to think on your feet to survive. This game can be incredibly punishing at times, with that also comes a feeling of great reward when you clear a large group of baddies or just any rough segment of the map.
Procedurally generated worlds always add a nice element of mystery to game, but are also a necessity when dealing with Rogue-lites. There’s definitely enough secrets spread around to keep you exploring for awhile, which is important since you find character upgrades and new items by doing so. The environment is a treat to explore, this game is beautiful in an intriguing way. It’s 2-D and there aren’t sweeping expansions of land or anything, but it’s all just detailed so well I never found myself bored of looking at anything, Most things are fairly well detailed enough that you can tell what their purpose is, like: chains are for climbing or flimsy wood doors can be smashed through. These well thought out visual cues lend to the player recognizing useful mechanics the developer has employed as well.
The combat in Dead Cells is incredibly pleasing, as you tend to slash and dodge your way through hordes of enemies, learning more every life to expend. You figure out who needs to be prioritized in certain encounters, and some great tactics to get the drop on some annoying enemies as well. Smashing through a door stuns any enemy close enough for example, you would smash through the door when the strongest or most annoying enemy is near the door to get the advantage of the whole group. For the most part Motion-Twin lets you figure it out for yourself which adds a bit of hesitation at times, especially when you’re trying to figure out if this new yellow liquid is just water textured differently or will it hurt me? I’ll leave that for you to figure out. Along with your main weapon, you have an off-hand which has a variety of gear to fill that slot. In the beginning of that game you can choose between a bow or a shield, but you quickly find throwing knives, whips, and other pieces of equipment. You also have two slots which are usually filled with different grenades or traps from freeze bombs to bear traps there’s plenty of ways to move forward through the world. Along with the gear comes learning how to use it effectively which takes time and experimenting, this is one of my favorite reasons for games with little tutorial. The important things are laid out for you, like collecting souls is used to upgrade weapons, and it’s okay to die.
You upgrade your character by finding pages scattered through out each level. You have three different slots you can upgrade: Health, Strenght (Damage), and Skill which raised the damage of your attacks that aren’t from your main hand weapon. You can find specific pages or you can find a page that lets you pick which slot to upgrade. You upgrade weapons and skills with the souls of the monsters you collect. These upgrades are permanent and stay with you after death as well as permanent runes you get through boss battles.
There is little story to the game, other than you can’t die and the island you’re on maybe alive as it changes every time you die. Fights can seem unfair at times as there are stun mechanics that leave you open to multiple attacks, and as you get farther into the castle, the enemies get stronger. Since there is no saving mechanic it can get frustrating, but Dead Cells just kept me coming back for more after each death. If you’re not careful this game will suck up your entire day because it get’s you into that “Just one more run” mindset. It’s fun, super polished, and challenging which is an incredibly dangerous combo that developer Twin-Motion nailed. You can pick it up for $16.99 on Steam, and I highly recommend you do, especially if you enjoy rogue-lites or you’re just a glutton for punishment.
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