Game Reviews

Dead Cells

Your body was desecrated.

Dead Cells is a rogue-lite action platformer with some metroidvania elements. There’s a lot to be said in that statement to begin with but in short, you will die. A lot. Like really. Get used to it as it’s part of the game.

As you learn to get better you stay alive longer, find more weapons and upgrades to help your future iterations. The game will keep challenging you to get better still. While most roguelike/roguelites are “done” once you finish it, this one has added various updates over the years with new (free) content for you to enjoy. And two small paid and reasonably priced DLCs in addition to that.

The metroidvania aspect

Since the game does have some metroidvania aspects I figured it’s important to quickly touch on them here. Most roguelike/lites will have some form of side-progression in the forms of improving your health or damage. Dead Cells is no different in that regard. That aside there’s a few non damaging upgrades which act as alternate path keys to either secret areas or entirely different biomes. Let’s just call Dead Cells a Roguevania.

One of the earliest ones is the vine rune which will allow you to access the sewers. Normally you would travel from zone A to B, then C. Having the first rune will allow you to travel from A to X, then C. You still end up in the same place in the end, but there’s new things and harder monsters along the way. (As well as another rune or two for more alternative paths)

As the levels are mostly randomly generated, it manages to keep things fresh. If you’re not feeling one zone, then you can take an alternative path thanks to this.

Some of the alternative paths require one of the (so far) two DLC to be accessed. Such as bad seed or fatal falls. These don’t add a huge lot of content, but if you enjoy the game you can see it as a way to support the developers in adding more free content. They’re only a few dollars in the end and offer more fun than a pint of beer, for half the price.

Upgrades and weaponry

Initially you’ve got a few basic weapons at your disposal. Basic sword ‘n board or a short bow. Not much to go with, but enough to kill the initial zombies on your path. A few different weapons may be found in the dungeons and further areas, but the really important weapons must be researched. As you progress and clear your enemies you may run into blueprints. These should be delivered to “the collector” where you can learn and unlock the item after spending some cells.

Cells are randomly awarded from killing enemies and challenges. Such as reaching the end of a level within a certain time limit or killing an X amount of enemies without taking damage. This ensures that even if you only have a few minutes to kill before work or school – you can get some overall game progress by adding to your research.

Or if you’ve got more time, you can focus on learning a bow and staying well away from enemies. Thus getting the untouchable challenge reward at the end of the level. Taking your time and clearing all the alternative paths will improve your damage output, increase your health and improves your chances at beating the bosses.

Boss fights

Monsters or in general the undead freaks and mutations that you will come across in your journey come in various sizes. Normal, Elite and Boss. Elites are rarely found near rune shrines or randomly in a level for extra rewards. Boss fights will block your progression after every 3 or so levels and will need you to simply put,. git gud.

Bosses are designed to stop you dead (literally) in your tracks. Even if you’re a good players, their mechanics will ensure you take damage. In short – you need to take your time and find scrolls in the levels before the boss to improve your health pool and weapon damage. Although having researched the health flask certainly helps as well.

And even if you finally killed the bosses and reached the end… You get a boss cell. Replay mode starts here basically. Boss cells increase the difficulty and kill reward for all the encounters, and unlock a few doors that previously would not open. So, you’ve got a reason to keep going and improving further.

Dead Cells was released on Steam 6 Aug, 2018

The Bad Seed DLC was released 11 Feb, 2020

The Fatal Falls DLC was released 26 Jan, 2021

System requirements are fairly easygoing, as it’s art style is pixel/retro but with modern lighting and with a noticeably smooth controller response.

Windows 7+, Intel i5+, 2 GB Ram, Nvidia 450/Radeon 5750 or better, 500 MB disk space, DirectX 9.1 or OpenGL 3.2+

4 Comments

  1. I used to play a lot of platform games and I can add dead cells to my all time favorite platform games list. Others are: Prehistorik 2, Jazz Jackrabbit 2, Super Frog, Adventure Island and Super Mario Bros.

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