“Dead Cells is a roguelike-metroidvania hybrid video game developed and published by Motion Twin. In the game, the player takes the role of a body of cells that take control of a corpse in a dungeon, through which they must fight their way out.”
As strange and as unusual the above synopsis may sound, Dead Cells truly is a treat for the modern age of gaming. The game takes inspiration from the Souls series, Metroid, Castlevania, & The Binding of Isaac, to create a procedurally generated, roguelike dungeon crawler in which the player must explore, fight a diverse range of monsters & enemies, and gain power-ups in order to progress.
Although the game is mostly described as a roguelike-metroidvania adventure, it is also comparable to the souls series in the sense that you will die, a lot. There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to this game, and although each run will be different from the last through platforming and enemy placement, you will learn to adapt to enemy types, move sets and extenuating factors to help you traverse each level as smoothly as possible.
Every enemy defeated has the chance to drop the games main ‘currency’ being cells. These cells can be traded in for upgraded weapons, passive abilities, healing items, and general ‘make-the-game-easier’ mechanics. Similar to Dark Souls, if you die before trading in or spending the cells with the games vendors, they will be lost forever, and unable to be retrieved.
If you are lucky enough to carry your cells through a level to a safe zone, there are a number of options for some Dead Cells retail therapy. Cells can be spent on unlocking new weapons that you’ve recently found the blueprints for, to permanent upgrades such as health potions, and unlocking further passive abilities know as mutations. The new weapon unlocks allow for a different way to progress through each run of the game, making certain enemies or boss easier, but also potentially limiting your options if your not quite as prepared. Although you have the option of what starter weapons to chose from, there is certainly an element of RNG as weapons and traps can be found randomly throughout the world and at shopkeepers along the way. Although this can certainly be frustrating if you can’t find the weapons or upgrades that you need to best tackle a situation, it’s a good frustration and helps the addictive element sink in.
Throughout your adventures in Dead Cells you will also come across a number of ‘Keepers’ who are for the most part the bosses of the game. These bosses will certainly test all of your skills and proficiency with weapons and tactics. Once again the element of RNG can either make this experience easier or more difficult but keeps the gameplay fresh and exciting with each subsequent attempt, and there will be subsequent attempts. Dying is a core mechanic of this game, and is used to create a different experience and approach to a situation with every subsequent run of the dungeon, similarly to the Souls series, Isaac and even Enter the Gungeon.
Overall, this is a game that you should be playing, and there’s really no excuse not to be as it’s out for pretty much every current gen platform. This is a prime example of game development done right, with a simplistic premise executed to almost perfection. There are some slight gripes I have with the controls, namely the jumping and hitboxing for certain areas of platforming, however that is more than anything a personal issue that most players will not be effected by. It’s a beautifully addicting roguelike dungeon crawler, with a stunning art pallet and wonderful soundtrack accompanied with stellar gameplay that keeps you coming back for more.
Dead Cells is available now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Steam.
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