Over on the excellent Well Red Mage, we did a review of Dead Cells. We’ve covered it before on Professional Moron as this was an early access title on Steam from Q1 2017. It’s just had its big release on everything, though, so we picked up the Nintendo Switch version and wasted no time diving straight into the frenzied action. Huzzah!
The basics: you start as the Prisoner and work your way through crazed levels wiping out foes. When you die (that will happen a lot), you regenerate at the start. The “dead cells” from enemies from your last run can then be used to purchase new weapons and upgrades – so you have the chance to keep improving on every run you make.
Everything about French developer Motion Twin’s game is a work of art. Having put in many more hours since our review on the Well Red Mage, we’ve come to just love every aspect of this beautiful, violent, psychotic thing. The music starts up and that’ll be it – you will be hooked. Also complemented by a stunning, macabre, and energising visual style, the gameplay will grab you and from there it won’t let go.
Even Dead Cell’s ferocious, unforgiving difficulty setting can’t diminish its brilliance. Now, with our Hollow Knight review we stated we wanted to outright love the game, but its frustrating nature blocked us from fully going for it. Dead Cells is more difficult, to be honest, but it’s balanced out with the capacity to improve steadily through each run. Thusly, your frustration is taken away – there’s always another shot, new things to unlock, and you can progress from there.
It’s an essential purchase – a Metroidvania/roguelike classic that takes its cue from Castlevania. You can get Dead Cells on Steam, the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and that’s about it for now. We highly recommend you do so, as this is one heck of an intense, engaging, thrilling, difficult, and outright mental experience. Having met with universal critical acclaim on its release (plus the sacking of an American IGN editor for a plagiarised review), it will take you about five minutes to realise why.
Alongside a riveting gaming experience there’s a quite remarkable soundtrack we’ve really fallen for. Frenchman Yoann Laulan is responsible – it’s reminiscent of chamber music at times, sometimes with a modern focus on orchestral heft. Whatever, it’s rousing stuff when you’re in game, but does offer moments of reflection in some of Dead Cell’s cool down areas.
Even if you’ve just been slain during a run, and you’re starting over again, once that music kicks in you’ll not give a damn. You’ll want to be right back out there – we’ve left off the chest thumping tunes in favour of the ones offering moments of repose, though. Why? As we bloody like them a lot. And we bloody love this game a lot. As should you!