Rogue-lites, whether you love or hate them, have proven time and time again to be a genre of video games that is here to stay. Put on the map by games such as “The Binding of Isaac” and “Enter the Gungeon”, more and more roguelite games are hitting the marketplace every year. I’ve recently been hooked on 2018’s smash hit “Dead Cells”, the Dark Souls of Roguelites. So what is Dead Cells? Read on after the fold to find out!
Dead Cells is a 2D action platformer game with roguelite elements, which means every time you die, you have to restart from scratch. There’s no saving, no checkpoints, no nothing. Git gud or go back to the start.
Luckily, you can unlock various upgrades and weapons that persist between play sessions (aka “runs”) by spending Cells (picked up from slain enemies). The more you play Dead Cells, the more upgrades you unlock, and the easier the game becomes. I love systems like this, because dying due to carelessness doesn’t sting as bad when you know you recently unlocked a sweet new skill earlier in your run. Sure you lost some cells and gold, but you have a new ability or weapon to help you advance next time. Death is just a minor setback, not a major one.
There’s so many ways to play Dead Cells that I’d be shocked if you couldn’t find a playstyle you enjoy. Do you want to hack and slash your way through enemies? Maybe a Brutality build with a “Blood Sword” or “Impaler” or is your thing! Would you rather play strategically? A Tactics build utilizing long range bows and traps might be more your style. Or maybe a you’re a defensive player who wants to use a shield to parry and block attacks with a Survival build! How you play is entirely up to you. I’m a tactics player, and through a rather complicated puzzle, I just unlocked the “Exploding Crossbow”, which decimates all enemies in my path along with multiple automated “Sinew Splicers” throwing blades that cause massive bleeding debuffs on all that come near.
As for the story, well, it’s set in a kingdom where disease seems to have ravaged the land. You play as a warrior tasked with...I’m not exactly sure. The story is obtuse. You’ll have to try the game out for yourself to learn more. All I know is it’s dark, there’s a ton of tense moments of action, cool enemies abound, and lots of challenge to be had.
So why do we refer to it as the Dark Souls of Roguelites? You roll to avoid incoming attacks, a Dark Souls fan’s greatest desire and default reaction!
The game has been very well received by both players and critics and has won numerous awards, and rightfully so! If a game can have me this hooked for this long, it’s something truly special. Not since Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne have I been so enthralled by a video game.
Alluding to the beginning of this post, which do I prefer? Roguelites or roguelikes? At the end of the day does it matter? Both are fun! I played Nethack over telnet for years, but does that mean I can’t enjoy Dead Cells? Nope! I’ll play whatever is enjoyable. Right now I’m trying to beat The Hand of the King on hard mode, and just know that it’s called “hard mode” for a reason.
Sources: giphy, https://www.igdb.com/games/dead-cells/presskit