Have you ever played a game called “Rogue Legacy” by Cellar Door Games? It was a roguelike action platformer that came out a few years ago. I put a few dozen hours into the game after seeing it on some youtube channel and I rather enjoyed my time with it. It was an aesthetically cute game with an interesting progression system where when you die, that character is gone -BUT- you keep your gold on a “descendant” of said character. You’d use this gold to progressively make a better and better character via skill trees and purchased equipment until eventually you have died enough times to clear the randomly generated castle.
Now; what if you took that game, stripped it down, then filled in the blanks with Dark Souls and Bloodbourne? Then you would get Dead Cells by Motion Twin.
Dead Cells came out on Steam early access a little over a week ago and since then has received quite a lot of praise, and rightly so. The game is very well executed both mechanically and artistically. Like Rogue Legacy, you steadily upgrade your character every time you play. You do this by spending “Cells” you get from enemies to acquire new weapons, perks, and upgrade already unlocked equipment. This means that every few runs you will have completely new equipment that can drop.
The gameplay is very fast and fluid. Your character feels powerful even with just the starting equipment and no upgrades. After only a few hours of play time I am already at the point where I never feel afraid to take a risk because I know if I just play well enough, any risk will pay off.
This risk-reward is a key component to the gameplay in Dead Cells. Do I want to fully clear out a level to gain the maximum number of cells, or do I want to just run to the exit because I am out of potions and I don’t want to lose everything? Do I take the easy path of levels, or do I go after the more challenging zones which drop more of everything? Every run is different because the answers to these questions aren’t always the same.
The game features equipment such as turrets, bombs, a teleportation ability (the equivalent of shadow-step in World of Warcraft), traps, etc. You can equip two of these items at any one time. All the items -including the weapons and shields- can have randomly added bonuses on them such as “throw a bomb on use” or “poison enemies on hit” among many others.
One balancing issue I have found is that some of the equipment are far too powerful. For instance, the turret I mentioned earlier. I was lucky enough to acquire two of these turrets at the same time during a run, which allowed me to basically skip every fight. All I had to do to win was drop two turrets and then wait while the enemies died helplessly. While fun and very useful for gaining cells, this is clearly not how the game is meant to be played.
Anyway, this Is by no means a review. It wouldn’t be fair to review a game that is very clearly sold as a not finished product. I am merely writing this to help spread the word and let people know that this is a game possibly worth keeping an eye on. I may review the game once it has exited early access, but it is too soon for me to decide that now.
If this article has helped you decide whether Dead Cells is for you, feel free to leave a comment. It is always nice to hear that I have helped with a purchasing decision- especially when it comes to indie games.