Dead Cells is definitely a game you should check out. It is a roguelike with precise, yet fast paced combat. Over the past few years, the game has developed into something fun and enjoyable. Its combat is sharp yet chaotic at times while the aesthetics, item descriptions, and small details help you immerse yourself and get into the zone. You are a blob of mass which can take over dead bodies from a prison, and your goal is to get as far away from the start as possible, progressing through several biomes in the process.
Dead Cells is described by Motion Twin Studios as a Roguevania. Roguevanias are games with elements from both roguelikes and Metroid-like games. In Dead Cells’ case you get vast maps to explore, including procedurally generated terrain and pesky enemies scattered throughout. The NPCs on the map always setup shop in a different position, but you can’t help feeling sorry for the traders. They’ve got to make a living somehow, I suppose. The thing that sets Dead Cells’ progression apart from other games is its unique item tiering system along with how it handles stat increases and powerups.
To progress in the sprawling world, you need to take full advantage of the assorted deadly objects you obtain during your run, along with mysterious scrolls that are scattered throughout the biomes. Even shields can be deadly; Nobody expects a giant spike on a prisoner’s shield! Most weapons also have a critical condition, like if your health drops under 25 percent or the enemy is in a pool of water. These critical hits are guaranteed once meeting the condition and allow you to rack up double or even triple the damage. While doing critical hits against fleshy targets, your weapon makes metallic clanking noises which are quite satisfying to hear.
There is also the aforementioned tiering system. This allows weapons to have more affixes and increases the weapon power. These are small modifiers which can synergise with each other resulting in massive damage or utility. It’s nice to have these around, however they are not necessary. You can also keep using your favourite type of weapon, even far into the world. You like setting enemies on fire? Take a tier VII torch!
Now the weapons sound amazing (as they should), but despite that you’ll be facing swarms of enemies in each biome. To actually unlock these harbingers of doom, you first have to run through Dead Cells’ main attraction, the realm. This place contains all the squishy targets which you’ll be mowing down, along with not so weak targets which might strike back. Each biome has at least one entrance and exit, but also contain item and food shops, cursed treasures, scrolls and possible elite monsters which drop shinnies for you to pick up. Some of these drops are necessary to unlock new biomes, and they all contain unique enemies.
Upon reaching the boss at the end of the realm, you unlock higher levels of difficulty via boss cells that you absorb and new doors which are previously locked. The effects and unique secrets that this unlocks are kind of spoilery, and I recommend you go play the game yourself first. (Personally, I just got to 2BC and I’m still running through hell with an assault shield.)
Why should you run through the biomes and say hi to death once you inevitably fall into a pit of spikes? The gameplay is quite fun, and most weapons are satisfying to use. Most weapons require some tactics to use, but they are rewarding when used right. That satisfying feeling you get when pulling off a no-hit against a boss by melting it with a cursed sword is amazing. I would recommend playing the game mostly because of the gameplay, but there’s other positives about it which you can almost immediately notice once booting up the game.
The graphics especially are high quality, with the handmade pixel art looking great. Most animation is made by taking 3D models, animating them and using a program to convert that into a piece of 2D pixel art. Combine that however, with shaders and effects to get the polished look of Dead Cells. Most enemy designs are unique, and they translate well into 2D, while the items you unlock throughout your runs are just pixel art inside your giant backpack.
My opinion on Dead Cells is that it is an amazing game overall, though it has its flaws as every game does. The game is hard to get into initially and lacks a proper tutorial. The most it gives you are prompts for how to use your key binds, although some people may prefer the exploration aspect of being thrown into the world with only the basics covered.
The game also has some balancing issues, with some weapons just being absurdly powerful like the
Curse Sword Face Flask, or mutations such as YOLO that are completely unusable as you understand what you’re doing. Overall these small issues add up, though they don’t completely ruin your experience. Most of these issues can be ignored. The game is also actively updated, so the developers are somewhat consistently pumping out updates and balancing patches.
Overall Dead Cells is a great game, its gameplay is fun, the worlds are expansive and even when you get sent back, you’ll have a residual craving for monster guts… in game anyways. It can be slightly difficult to get into initially, but it’s worth sticking with it, and learning what your tools are, and how to use them. Each weapon and power are unique, and they encourage different playstyles, so there’s a combination of weapons for nearly everyone.