You’re undead, you have no head, but at least you have a sense of humour. Dead Cells is a 2.5D roguelike that will stand out amongst other titles in the genre.
Right off the bat, I have to say the controls are as fluid as I had imagined from watching gameplay. The jail cell you start in was enough area for me to move freely to understand the controls. Jumping directly up a platform is so smooth. It looks as if your character won’t make it, but the transition from plat to plat is seamless. Double jumping is good and proves useful.
The first person you come in contact with makes fun of you for having no head or tongue to speak with. Your character responds with hand motions that fit well. There is light humour throughout the game with objects you can interact with and text that follows.
Killing enemies is SO satisfying. The sword action is pretty hack and slash, but don’t expect that button-mashing tactic to help you survive. Enemies respond and attack you with force. There are big enemies, small enemies, archers, bombers, and large sword wielding enemies that can teleport.
Your main weapon is a blade. Secondary weapon can be a bow, shield, and more. Accessory weapons are grenades, bear traps and other useful items. I enjoy the dual grenades, but the bear trap and grenade combo work awesome.
Secret passages lead to pickups that include blueprints to improved weapons. There are expensive items hidden in the walls that give you money. Killing enemies collects money that can be used to buy upgrades, and cells used for permanent upgrades. Scrolls found in-game will improve attributes: brutality, tactics, or survival.
Teleportation areas light up in a yellow circle and allow you to travel to previously activated areas to buy items you couldn’t afford earlier. There are alternate paths to take each run, so the teleportation areas come in handy if you find a dead end.
Prior to playing, I wasn’t sold on the graphics entirely. I enjoyed the colour schemes and character movement but I’m not sure if I thought there was a motion blur or what. Any gripe I had melted away during my first run. Characters have depth and personality. The bigger the character, the better they look. Towards the end of an area, you get a chance to purchase upgrades from a HUGE character and he looks great.
This is a game that got me excited to grab my Switch and start a run. Replayability is high, and not just because it’s a roguelike with each run having a different level design, enemy placement and hidden items. I haven’t had a rage quit yet, nor have I been so upset about not winning a run as I have in other roguelike games. This game has me back in the jail cell eager to start another run. In between levels you get to spend your cells on permanent upgrades that will help you progress further each run. There are so many collectables and they are hung in jars just outside the cell for you to see before each run. It’s a bit motivational to see and makes you want to kill every enemy for a chance at another cell to spend on upgrades.
I’m glad I pre-purchased this title on the eShop, and for $19.99 I’m getting my money’s worth. This is a great game and I recommend getting it.
Beard Score: 9/10
Title: Dead Cells
Genre: Roguelike, Action
Publisher: Motion Twin
Release: 08/07/2018 (Switch)
Format: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch $24.99
Steam: $19.99 until Aug. 13th then $24.99