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Light, digestible (indie) game reviews.

Early Access

Dead Cells

Don't Panic!

Reviewed by: James "Voidfox" | Twitter | May 11, 2017

The Dead Cells gameplay loop mixed with Dark Souls(ish) combat is among the most addicting in the roguelike genre.

  • Review Play Time: 24.7 hours
  • Price: $18.99 (CAD)

so far... I got $0.77/Hour* of awesomeness

*Based on updated Steam total play time.

Game Flow

  • Spawn in as a headless, but soon to have a glowing head character
  • Grab a secondary weapon
  • Open the door to start your procedural demise
  • Navigate through the level
  • Kill enemies
  • Collect "cells" from the recently slain
  • Find new blueprints
  • Discover secrets
  • Find the exit to a new area
  • Checkpoint!
  • Spend your hard earned cells unlocking new stuff
  • Get mauled by a group of blade swinging bat-things
  • Die
  • Learn the patterns of enemies
  • Repeat

Likes

  • Pixel 3D-like graphics
  • Beautiful character and enemy designs
  • Uber-responsive combat and controls
  • Tons of weapons and items
  • Items have levels with varying random stats
  • Procedurally generated levels
  • Overall theme
  • Chunky, meaty explosions
  • Weapon and spell hits are visually and audibly impactful
  • Lots of new item blueprints to discover
  • Obtaining runes present new significant gameplay options
  • Dodging gives invulnerable frames
  • Rewards skill, fast reaction, and quick thinking
  • Different weapons offer vastly different styles of combat
  • Weapon and item combinations seem endless
  • The Meat Grinder is love
  • Teleporters around level avoid backtracking fatigue
  • Ground pounding!
All Likes

Dislikes

  • There are times teleporters will not spawn where I thought they logically should have. May require difficulty tweaking in later levels.
  • Flammable sword feels inferior to all other melee weapons
  • Getting one shot in later levels

The Final Word

Early Access Alert
Opinion is subject to change during Dead Cells's development.

—-Gameplay—-

Throw a magnet-grenade and watch monsters get pulled into a group, now toss in a fire-grenade and watch them all burn! Quickly jump off the ledge and ground-pound onto the stack of magnetically-locked, burning enemies and watch as they explode into a shower of pixel-delicious gibs. There's a couple left? One of the remaining monsters takes a swing but you dodge roll through it, activating the critical hit on your rapier and jab them right in the face. A blueprint dropped? Take it to the checkpoint and spend the cells taken from slain enemies to unlock the blueprint item for future runs.

This is just one interaction and scenario that can happen based on the loadout you are running with, of which can change at any time when you find new items and weapons that synergize well together. For example: you may find a weapon that adds a bleed to enemies and have an arrow turret that does extra damage to enemies who are bleeding. There are so many of these synergies, experimenting and finding powerful combinations becomes an addiction.

Did you die during your adventure? Start again, but with the knowledge you have accumulated to better your chances in the next life. This game is meant to be replayed.

—-Content—-

There is a lot of content to play with in the Early Access of Dead Cells. Many highly, uniquely thematic levels. There's no shortage of monsters, all with their own attack patterns. It feels like there are endless weapons, active skills, traps, amulets and buffs to experiment with, especially when each of these come in different item levels and have randomly rolled stats. Elite monsters, boss fights, and secrets. All of this with the promise of much more to come during Early Access.

—-Graphics—-

Vibrant, pixel-chunky, 3D-like effect. Level backgrounds are gorgeous yet do not interfere with the action. Enemy designs are varied and highly distinguishable. Animations are fluid and snappy. Weapon swings and spell casting have particles, glows, and an overall sense of magical essence to them.

—-Controls—-

I highly recommend using a controller. Plays like a dream. Snappy, simple controls feel extremely responsive, this is partially thanks to the fact you can dodge cancel out of attacks, jumps, etc, making Dead Cells feel very reactive and reward quick thinking and skill.

—-Sound—-

Weapon strikes are impactful and feel weighty. Magic casting sounds enchanting and powerful. Explosions and monster-gibbing sound chunky and very satisfying. Monsters make sound based on the type of attack they do, helping further with memorizing their attack patterns for future runs. The music is fitting for the theme of each stage.

—-Overall—-

Dead Cells is a serious contender for my 2017 Indie GOTY, at least in the Metroidvania-roguelike genres. It's gorgeous to look at, extremely fluid and responsive, fun and rewarding, and has tons of unlocks to keep completionists busy.

The Early Access build already has a ton of content with hours upon hours of gameplay. As of May 10, 2017 the developers have mentioned this is only about 40-50% of what we can expect to be in the game. In the weeks leading up to Early Access release, I have been testing Dead Cells and seeing it evolve. The devs were pumping out patches containing fixes, content, and polish on a daily basis. These guys are committed to making a damn good game and believe me when I say, Dead Cells is not a good game, it's a phenomenal one.

Still not convinced? Dark Souls combat was used as inspiration.

Buy it now.

Worth it?

Yes

Reviewed by: James "Voidfox" | Twitter | May 11, 2017