Dead Cells fanart! I love how you’ll start playing this game slowly and cautiously, but eventually it trains you to become a speed addict ninja death storm. Detailed thoughts below.
Originally I was pretty hesitant about this game because people just threw vague mild praise at it and started describing it with a dry genre label salad like “It’s a Roguelike Metroidvania Pixel Platformer with Soulsborne influences”. I’m really glad Dead Cells doesn’t just competently check all the contemporary boxes, but actually has a character of its own.
Dead Cells starts you off in a position where you’ll want to take it slow and steady. You’ll come across challenges that ask you to be fast, not get hit at all, or both at the same time. As you progress, you’ll notice some increase in power through unlocks you retain between deaths, but for the most part, they’re sidegrades. So you realize that eventually, you’re gonna become as fast and evasive as the game knows you can be, by getting better at the game.
Almost all the items you gather have a unique little mechanic to them that takes a bit of mastery. This is in addition to their modifiers that ask you to make tactical arsenal decisions. Stick with the current synergy of weaker weapons? Diversify into multiple synergies to avoid getting countered? Completely upgrade to stronger weapons, even if they don’t synergize right now?
So between skirmishes Dead Cells is about a bit of strategic loadout planning, and during skirmishes it’s all about deploying your synergy combo and then quickly using your weapons well. Eventually you’ll be breezing through the early levels without enemies being able to lay a finger on you, towards difficult shortcuts that you have no business surviving based on your crappy starting gear, but you’ll overcome them with skill and swipe some items that are way beyond the power level of the usual route at this time.
Seeing your gameplay growing from careful and meek into bold, brash and stylish really rewarding!
As a side note, I also like how the game iterates on some of the problems similar games have faced before it, particularly cheese strats. For example, the arrows of ranged weaponry sticks inside enemies until you kill them, making it difficult to pick off tough enemies through chip damage from afar. Gadgets that kill on their own can be destroyed by enemies, require you to be nearby, and if you get hurt during redeployment you can’t recover some HP per hit as with your normal weapons (that use Bloodborne’s system).
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