Dead Cells - Steam/PC Review

A spectacular, challenging and very rewarding rogue-vania experience.

Game Info

  • System: PC (Steam)
  • Publisher: Motion Twin
  • Developer: Motion Twin
  • Release Date: May 10, 2017
  • Price:TBD
  • Rating: T
  • Genre: Rogue-Lite, Metroidvania, Indie, Action
  • Players: Single Player
  • Official Website: https://dead-cells.com/

Dead Cells - Early Access Launch Trailer

Who it Caters to

While the name Dead Cells sounds like something out of a doctor’s handbook, it’s very much alive and explosive in every way possible. Anyone who’s a fan of Metroidvania and rogue-lite titles will certainly jump on the occasion and find the game to be very rewarding. It’s extremely fun and immersive while still providing enough of a challenge to keep you hankering for more after each unsuccessful attempt. It has a retro feel to it as you race through every part of the stage, trying to eliminate enemies before they get a chance to strike back in retaliation in good ol’ fashion Metroidvania style.

What to Expect

Dead Cells is still in the early phases of development and yet, the game felt very fluid and does create some provocative moments to test your skills. Metroidvania styled games often pose many great challenges in the area of enemy count, since they frequently tend to hit much harder than the typical enemy you’d find in a game. Every encounter you approach has their own unique way of trying to tear you apart and so it’s your job to determine the best course of action to advance further into the murky depths. With many weapons to try and uncover, Dead Cells is a game that will keep you busy for hours without you even realizing because for most of the duration, your eyes will be glued trying to find every powerup possible to survive. Gather coins to purchase and unlock new skills, smash secret walls to find gems worth a hefty amount, and come up with a divisive strategy to defeat these mortified creatures before they do. Every attempt will be entirely different as each time you die, the level layout will change and you’ll lose everything you earned from before. It’s a constant strive to avoid death and to ensure you get the best power ups possible to reach the end game.

Gameplay

Dead Cells begins with you being revived inside of a body and are inside of a murky and darkened prison. One of the guards reminds you of your journey and that everything you see will never be the same twice. The game starts you off with a basic sword and shield but after that, the entire game is randomly generated so that way every time you play, your strategy will always have to be adjusted on the fly. This added element is what gives Dead Cells its extremely high replay value because, each time you die everything you earned during your previous journey is gone. You’ll see your past items hanging over your head in glass veils that act as a grim reminder, letting you know that this is no walk in the park. In a way they act as trophies for your accomplishments but also reminding you of how unforgiving the game can be. That double-edged sword aspect about Dead Cells is the shining factor behind its glorious gameplay because yes, you will feel bouts of frustration and mental fatigue, but you’ll also feel this inclination to better yourself and take on every new challenge with a new perspective.

Will you go the aggressive route or take a more slowed approach? Dead Cells predominantly drills that question into your conscience because there are moments where either method could secure your survival, or get you exterminated in the blink of an eye. This tactical approach is such a stimulating feeling and it becomes an addiction to strive for better, collect the right skill points to level up, and determine whether the weapons you’ve chosen for battle are the right fit for what’s to come. It’s like you’re writing a new story each time you race through the levels because nothing really ever feels the same. The overall layout may feel similar but enemy respawns will change, weapons will never be the same every time, and searching for those coveted treasure boxes becomes even more demanding as the costs to open doors skyrockets in price. If there’s anything more important than collecting weapons it’s perhaps gathering gold and maintaining a lot of it over time. There’s a perk in the game that allows you to permanently keep 25% of your gold each time you die, so making sure to save up whatever you can is essential. On the other hand, while saving could benefit you in some way we often just used all the gold we found to ensure we survived longer as we traversed through each level scouring for items.

You’ll often come across who’s known in the game as the Collector, a bizarre looking being that will take all the cells you’ve collected throughout the game, which you can then use to power up certain blueprints that you collect. Those perks will never be refreshed so nothing to worry about there, so basically every time you die and collect cells you can still level up that one special item you desperately desire. The Collector in a way acts as your checkpoint because you know you’ve come a long way to even reach him again. Sometimes you’ll reach him faster than you’d expect while other times you’ll be sweating bullets praying that he show up as soon as possible. Once you die all those precious cells go with you and so the mind is always on high alert to avoid sudden death.

The great aspect we loved best about Dead Cells is that, there’s no difficulty setting which means that the game will always do its best to steamroll you at the prime opportunity, but still allow you to save your progress so perhaps you can wipe the sweat off your brow and take a breather. Coming up with the right combinations of skill items and weapons is such a fun aspect too because it encourages the player to experiment with every item the game throws at you. Of course you could simply stick with specific items like the classic Electric Whip, which reminded us so much of the celebrated Whip from Castlevania, but then you run the risk of bumping into enemies who grow increasingly stronger over time and will destroy you in one or two hits. Knowing when to sacrifice or hold onto weapons throughout the game becomes a challenge in itself, because you become so attached to one but then suddenly need to dispose of it because the enemies up ahead require something more deadly to eradicate them with. Roll and dodge your way around enemies to avoid their special attacks, or simply ignore them all together and take the safer route to success.

We could go on for days as to how versatile Dead Cells is, but as you can tell, we clearly adore this game entirely because there’s never a shortage of action and you’re constantly being encouraged to step your game up. Our favorite combination of weapons consisted of the Broad Sword, which reminded us of Guts from Berserk, Twin Blood Blades, Ice Grenades and Flashbangs. The Broad Sword, despite its weight and attack speed, does an insane amount of damage as it buffs and chops enemies up with ease. Pair that with the Twin Blades that cause bleeding and you have an incredibly powerful arsenal that can deal with most threats. However, the biggest threat may not necessarily be the enemies around you but perhaps the enemy within yourself. What do we mean? As we’ve stressed before Dead Cells provides a fresh new experience every time and so it’s very hard to get attached to things. If you get too cocky and feel you can just cruise through then you’ll be in for a harsh ending. If you become complacent then enemies will just bombard you and there’s nothing much left after that. It’s all about keeping your cool as the progression gets deeper, allowing yourself to be more flexible and not letting the emotions overtake you.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

Dead Cells is an indie game that we cannot get enough of and wish more games like this would exist in the current ecosystem. With so many AAA titles taking the spotlight, the more prominent titles are overshadowed and often get ignored, until someone shines a light on it for everyone to see. We pray Dead Cells gets the attention it deserves because for what it’s worth, which is a lot in our opinion, Dead Cells could turn into a game that could potentially be the next big Metroidvania title we’ve all been hungry for. With the early access just around the corner on Steam, we encourage anyone reading this to get in on the action and try this game out, even if you’re not totally familiar with how Metroidvania styled games function. It’s not so much the genre that sells the game, it’s Dead Cells itself that sells. It’s addictive gameplay, high replay value and enormous depth remind us that we need more games like this, since much of the stuff we often touch nowadays is saturated with bland and monotonous gameplay that often results in us throwing that said game into the heap of other rudimentary titles. Why pay 80 dollars for a washed up title when you can help support the indie scene and shed light on a game that places value not on the price, but moreso on the overall experience.

Honey's Pros:

  • Exceptionally high replay value with every attempt being fresh.
  • Addictive gameplay.
  • Hours upon hours will be poured in without you noticing.
  • The power up system through collecting cells is cool.
  • A lot of depth and variety to keep you coming up with new strategies.
  • Nonlinear Progression!
  • Gorgeous visuals and intricate level designs.

Honey's Cons:

  • The game is still being developed and so bugs are an issue.
  • Would love more variety in music to really compliment the gameplay.

Honey's Final Verdict:

We want to thank the team at Motion Twin for reinvigorating our nostalgic souls and supplying us with a game that’s rich in gameplay, never selling you short in any way possible. With May 10th just around the corner, it’s time you start counting your money and putting aside just enough to play Dead Cells. It’s rogue-lite experience paired with the magnificent Metroidvania approach is flavorful and long lasting, which cannot be ignored. We hope you found this review useful and when you do grab the game be sure to let us know how you feel in the comments section below! Hearing your thoughts means a lot to the Honey’s Gaming team, and what better way to grow a community than to communicate! Follow us on social media to keep up with all the latest tweets about when we go live as well! Until next time, this is NualphaJPN signing out.

As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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