After sitting in Early Access for a little over a year, Dead Cells has received a full release during the summer game drought. Is it worth picking up? Sit back, relax, and let me tell you about the game.
Dead Cells Preview
My personal experience with MetroidVania games was very limited until recently. Last year, I picked up Hollow Knight, and that helped me get into them. Fast forward to last night when Dead Cells released – a roguelike MetroidVania that has glowing reviews in Early Access and had been recommended to me more than once. I decided to give it a go to see what all the hype was about, and boy, was the hype real. Almost immediately, I could tell this would be one of those “one more run” games, and that had me excited.
The core of Dead Cells is an action platformer with some RPG mechanics mixed in with a permadeath mechanic. You come into the world as a ball of slime and enter a corpse to become a humanoid that can fight. At first, you have a limited amount of weapons and items that you can find. As you progress, you find blueprints that will unlock new weapons and items for you. The trick is getting these blueprints and what are known as Cells back to base. The Cells are used to unlock new weapons, items, mutations and other perks you will use during your time in Dead Cells.
Cells, stat points, and blueprints are where the roguelike elements come in. If you die with cells or a blueprint, that’s it; they are gone. When you respawn you lose all your stat points. Blueprints and stat points can be found again later in the game, but the cells will go bye-bye. I’m always wary of a mechanic like this, because you could potentially lose hours of time. Dead Cells balances the challenge of a level and the length back to the home base very well. If you die during a level, it is often because you got greedy and pushed too hard. That’s not to say the game isn’t challenging, it is, but it is also fair.
As far as combat goes, it can be hectic at times. You have two primary attacks, two item slots, and a dodge roll. Mastering the dodge roll is the key to beating the game. There are shields, but they don’t block 100% of the damage, and they take up one of your weapon slots. Like any game with multiple weapons, there are some you will like and others you won’t. I prefer the faster swords and kunai, but there are slow, powerful weapons for stunning enemies as well. Weapons also have rarity, so if you are lucky, you might find a legendary which makes any run a lot easier.
So far I’ve spent about six hours with the games, and I have been through a few levels. You are in a dungeon of a castle, and the idea is to work your way up to the top. On your way up, new areas with new challenges will become available. If you make it up far enough, you face a boss, and you better be ready for a battle. It’s not just a straight path though; explorers are often rewarded with Cells, items, weapons or stat points, assuming they can make it back in one piece. It’s a judgment call on if you want to risk all your cells to get one last upgrade before the boss.
I have enjoyed what I’ve played of Dead Cells so far. The further I get, the more I want to see the end. Check back soon for our full Dead Cells review.