This game was produced by a french studio called Motion Twin. Dead Cells is a Metroidvania that is mixed with Rogue Lite elements. You play a blob of slime that body snatches a corpse, and you have to explore and fight your way through several biomes. Each biome has its own unique visuals and caste of enemies that are all too eager to rip you asunder.
When you do die, your blob of slime returns to the starting area and hijacks another body to try again. This game has a very souls like attitude to combat and revival. The game emphasises speed and skill as it’s core principles, rewarding players that barrel through the level with more resources and rewarding players who kill certain numbers of enemies without taking damage.
In between stages you can spend upgrade material called cells on various items and mutations, all of which cater to different styles of play. This throws powers, weapons and mutations into the mix for the next time you run the gauntlet after you die.
This game is dark souls player ideology boiled down to it’s most basic premise, death is not failure but a chance to learn, adapt and overcome. While going through the levels, picking up weapons and items, you also pick up blueprints that you can use in between levels to unlock new items with resources you obtain from enemies and bosses.
Different weapons have different attack arcs and different wind up times. Each weapon also has permanent special features like uninterruptible attacks or doing more damage to enemies up against walls, if your play-style is using the environment to your advantage.
Weapons also get various changeable modifiers that add loads of customisation, which helps immensely for the replayability of this little gem. All the weapons you find feel distinct and fun to use, and the sound design for the impacts on enemy and even the swing of weapons are crisp and pleasing on the ears.
While talking about sound design, I would be remiss to not mention the absolutely magical soundtrack, which perfectly matches the look and feel of the stage while still keeping in tone with the slick fluid gameplay.
The movement is fluid with double jumps and rolls, and downward smashes damaging enemies when dropping from one platform to the other. The Metroidvania elements that I mentioned earlier are accessed through exploration. There are various paths that you can explore that yield runes that access previously uninteractable facets of this grim world.
The Runes found expand on previously inaccessible areas or simply give you another item. You can choose to use this in your current build for your current run, which rewards player curiosity and effort. That is something this game does excellently in it’s minute to minute gameplay.
This games combat and progression systems reward players who put time into the game and learn how it operates. The challenging bosses and levels, fluid movement and short run times this game is an indie gem and should not be overlooked. Dead Cells is available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. You can find out more here.
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