Reviews - Updated on April 11, 2022

Choice Stopgame

The developers of Dead Cells call their project “rogue”. After each death, you respawn in the starting zone, as happens in the well-known “bagels”, but at the same time, the locations here are very large, fraught with many secrets, and the character gradually learns new abilities and becomes stronger. The cocktail turned out to be truly amazing – having been in Steam Early Access for about a year and having received a lot of updates, by the full release the game has become one of the best “pixel” masterpieces of our time.

die to return

In Dead Cells, it is surprising how harmoniously all the elements are combined in it. Let’s take the procedural generation of levels – if in some Chasm it feels like the rooms are sculpted to each other by a computer, and not by a person, then here at first you don’t even suspect the existence of such a feature. Huge (by the standards of “bagels”) zones contain teleportation points, secret passages, chests with useful items, and much more. And everything is so coolly arranged and connected, as if the generation is not at all random, but it was intended to be. The structure and many rooms still remain more or less similar, but you don’t get bored from the monotony.

At the beginning of the passage, the character has only an ordinary sword in his hands, and a bow and a shield lie two steps away from him. You can only take two types of weapons with you, and you will win in any case. Just a bow will allow you to shoot at enemies from afar, and a shield absorbs some of the damage, but can also be used to counterattack. Over time, the player will find whips that ignore enemy shields, as well as spartan sandals (allow you to kick), and more. If in the early stages of development there were problems with balance, now you can succeed with almost any equipment.

There are also two slots for additional weapons – these are special items with “cooldowns” after their use. You also start to stumble upon them quite early, unlocking more and more options as you progress. These can be traps that force the enemy to stand still for several seconds, or a path of circular saws. There are also various kinds of grenades – one explodes and covers the ground and enemies with oil, the other freezes opponents, the third calls for small biting worms. You can throw daggers in different directions, causing opponents to bleed.

Dead Cells game review

Fighting up close isn’t necessary if going down into the crowd is too dangerous.

There are a lot of options, and later you will carefully test everything and decide what is the most comfortable to run with. Although it is far from a fact that all the necessary weapons can be found during the journey, after all, after death, all inventory is taken away. And at first, not so many things were unlocked – in order to gain access to new items, you need to collect blueprints that are either well hidden or drop out of opponents and “bosses”.

You take these drawings to a quiet place where you find yourself after each level, and then pay for each individual item with cells – this is one of the local currencies that periodically falls out of defeated opponents. If a hero dies, all the remaining cells in the supply are destroyed, so the game does not let you into the next zone until you give all the “money” to the corresponding character.

This is one of the shortcomings of Dead Cells. Each “paid” drawing allows you to later find a specific weapon in the game world or purchase it from a merchant. But it is impossible to get rid of this or that thing and permanently erase it from the general list of unlocked items. So if you didn’t like some grenades that you spent your hard-earned cells on, then you will have to stumble upon them until the finale.

On the other hand, even not the most useful things sometimes have excellent additional properties. The sword you prefer to daggers can drop with a special bonus – it will cause bleeding, or with each swing you will begin to throw bombs. If you love shields, and bows constantly fall out to you, then this is not a problem: what if enemies destroyed with arrows begin to leave behind poisonous clouds? After defeating the first “boss”, a forge will be unlocked, where you can change such parameters, and an inconspicuous piece of equipment will shine with new colors.

Dead Cells game review

There are a lot of visual effects during fights, but not so much that the hero gets lost in this mess.

Didn’t go in vain

The same cells that are spent on turning blueprints into real things are used to simplify the gameplay. In this regard, Dead Cells is reminiscent of Rogue Legacy, where the players used the gold they earned to improve the castle, increasing the character’s attack power, enhancing abilities and unlocking new classes. There are no castles here, but there is a special merchant who offers some interesting bonuses. For example, a healing potion will appear in your inventory, and you will no longer need to rely on the loss of very rare food from enemies. Then enough cells will accumulate so that random weapons are given at the beginning of the passage, and you do not have to choose from the same options.

Therefore, even failed attempts to defeat the “boss” move the player forward – he could not defeat a large opponent, but he collected about fifty cells in previous locations and slightly simplified his future races. But the attack power and health reserve cannot be changed in this way – for this you need to look for scrolls, often surrounded by a couple of monsters.

And here the player is also presented with a choice. Scrolls increase the indicators of brutality, tactics and survivability, increasing the damage from the corresponding types of weapons, and at the same time lengthening the strip of “lives”. But each time the bonuses get worse, and at some point you will have to choose between strengthening the sword with 15% bonus health or “upgrading” unnecessary weapons with 60% additional survivability. This is all important within the framework of a particular race, after death you lose these improvements as well, becoming an ordinary squishy.

Dead Cells game review

The Daily Challenge is a great opportunity to warm up before your next run.

Dead Cells simultaneously rewards both thoughtful exploration of each corridor and quick running from one location to another. You can methodically take down each enemy while admiring the great animation that changes depending on the weapon. Elegantly dodge attacks by reacting in time to exclamation marks above the heads of opponents and using a roll. Learn the characteristics of opponents, understanding their weaknesses, and use the environment to defeat them – lure the entire crowd into one point, throwing bombs, or perform a ground slam when falling from the upper platform. Or you can use the same roll to quickly move to the exit – then in the next zone you will be able to open the door with treasures, which slams shut a couple of minutes after the start.

Much in this game seems thought out to the smallest detail and brought almost to perfection. The controls are very responsive, and the combat system is strikingly beautiful – enemies react to blows and fall apart spectacularly into “pixels” while the main character skillfully dodges attacks, actively uses additional weapons and brandishes a sword or daggers. The runes gradually received by the character give him access to new rooms and corridors – first you learn to grow a vine in certain places, using it as a ladder, and then you start teleporting from one tomb to another and bouncing off the walls. And procedural generation does not spoil anything – you can always shorten the path using these features or get to the secret.

By and large, there are no special innovations in the game, almost everything has already been done before. The progress system was partially taken from Rogue Legacy, The Binding of Isaac is reminiscent of the need to cope with difficulties with the help of the weapons found, opponents can take down a huge amount of health with one blow, as in many hardcore projects. But Dead Cells does not seem like a copy, its authors did not just somehow connect these components, but achieved a balance and made the gameplay so enjoyable that you can spend dozens of hours here and still want more.

Dead Cells game review

The more experienced you become, the more confident you get into fights.

***

Although at some point Dead Cells will start to feel a little monotonous, it will try every time to make a new playthrough different from the previous one. Either the rooms are arranged differently, then the weapon will have to be used unusual, then instead of an ordinary enemy, his elite version will appear with a large supply of health and excellent trophies for killing him. And that’s the beauty of the game – it offers a lot of different content and mixes it up so that you always enjoy it, even if you fail. Together with a beautiful and dynamic combat system, exciting location exploration and many other advantages, this makes Dead Cells one of the best games of the year.

Pluses: successful mixing of genres; spectacular and dynamic combat system; a wide variety of enemies and weapons; great style that makes the game unlike other “pixel” projects; clear progress system with useful improvements; excellent location design despite procedural generation; nice soundtrack.

Cons: if you don’t like the weapon unlocked with the help of blueprints, you won’t be able to get rid of it forever; lack of significant innovation.

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