Introduction to Dead Cells
Dead Cells is a roguelike Metroidvania that keeps you on your toes. When you stop paying attention it means that you will die. The Enemies can do a lot of damage to you. This game is made around you dying a lot. If you don’t like starting games all over every time that you die then maybe this is not the game for you. Don’t get discouraged, Dead Cells wants you to learn from your mistakes to keep you alive. You are probably thinking right now, I can memorize the map and blitz through with ease! Sorry for the bad news, Dead Cells will change the maps every time you die. There are many weapons and skills to unlock that can protect you from enemies who want to kill you. There are also multiple roads to take; every biome has different enemies to fight. In the last update I managed to get platinum on the Playstation4 and I also managed to collect all the blueprints and clothing There is a new update I have not played yet, this update is not included in the review. I advise you to buy the DLC, bad seed, before even starting Dead Cells.
This review will contain spoilers!
You awake in a prison cell as a blob, you posses the beheaded prisoner next to you. In the prison cell is also a giant skeleton. You quickly find out that you are on an island. You have no idea what exactly happened to you or on the island but everyone is either dead or a monster. You soon learn that a disease called the malaise destroyed the island. You travel across the island and destroy many monsters on the way. When you die the time resets and you begin at the prison cell again, it is Groundhog Day all over again. After defeating many of the monsters on the island you find the Time Keeper. Unfortunately, you don’t learn much from her. The Time Keeper teleports away when she is heavily injured.
You travel through the castle to reach the Hand of the King. After an intense battle, you defeat the Hand of the King. The king has a barrier around him that you cannot destroy with a normal weapon. You take the weapon from the corpse of the Hand of the King and kill the king. The king explodes and only your blob remains. You crawl into the fountain and come back to the beheaded prisoner’s body. The time loop has not been broken and you decide to try again. The monsters have grown stronger but you won’t let them stop you.
After reaching the Hand of the King for the second time, you notice the king is not there. After being victorious in defeating the Hand of the King you decide to crawl back into the fountain. Again the time loop has not been broken, you decide to keep repeating the cycle and finding different routes. The third cycle is not different only harder. In the fourth cycle you find the Giant, he tells you that you are the king that you have been trying to defeat. The collector experimented on you and split your soul from your body. The Giant blames you for the kingdom is in ruins and he attacks you. After the battle with the Giant, he grants you an item that will let you reach the Collector.
After completing the fourth cycle you go once again back into the fountain, you complete the fifth cycle and defeat the Hand of the King but instead of crawling back into the fountain, there is a new path. There is a strange door that was not there before. You enter through the door and reach the lab of the Collector. After defeating the enemies in the lab you find the Collector. He is amazed that you have reached him. After an intense fight, you manage to steal the panacea from the Collector that should be the cure to the malaise. You drink the panacea and defeat the Collector. Is it finally over? No, you explode and the time loop resets.
You notice that there are weird things going on in the sixth time loop. When you reach the Hand of the King, you notice that the king is back. After defeating the Hand of the King you decide to possess the king. The Giant was right and you are connected to your original body again. Now it is time to face the Collector one last time. You go through the door to the lab again and face the Collector once more. After another intense battle, you manage to steal the panacea again and kill the Collector. Instead of exploding again, you are cured of the malaise! You go back to your throne and get a glass of wine, thinking about your time in the sewers. Suddenly other you come into the room while you are also sitting on your throne, there are two of you! You and other you decide to clash and attack each other for a duel.
You begin Dead Cells with 100 health points. The game is a Metroidvania in the sense that there are multiple routes opening up when you gather new skills. Rogue-like means that when you die, you die. You will lose all your equipment, scrolls and need to try again. When Dead Cells clicks, you will keep on playing. If you don’t like to restart after every death, maybe Dead Cells is not a match for you. The Combat is fast-paced and can change during your run when you equip different types of weapons.
You begin as a green blob with nobody. This is not the way to play Dead Cells. You need to find a body that is close by to posses. After possessing the body you can walk and choose your first weapons. Every time you die the game will reset itself, you will start from the beginning. You might think, why play this game if you keep dying? You can collect blueprints and take them to the Collector in the checkpoint room after completing a biome. These blueprints will not reset. After clearing a biome you will get the chance to heal your wounds and get ready for the next biome. To reach certain biomes you will need to find upgrades that are called runes. To collect these runes you will need to find elite enemies, these are scattered around in biomes. With each enemy killed there is a chance that you get cells. The cells are used for upgrades; you can buy the upgrades in the checkpoint room. You are able to roll in Dead Cells, this is called a dodge. Dodging is important in avoiding enemy attacks and escaping your death. In Dead Cells, it is possible to roll through enemies without taking damage. When you find gold, you can use the gold to buy items in the shop. The shop can be upgraded by using cells in the checkpoint room.
You are stuck in a time loop that will keep repeating itself; you play the game and die. You can upgrade yourself by finding new blueprints. It helps when you get to know the enemy patterns. When you manage to beat the first time loop, you will also start over but on a higher difficulty. The enemies are stronger you need to use items called boss cells. The boss cells go all the way up to the fifth boss cell. When you finish the fifth boss cell difficulty twice, you can get the secret ending! With every boss cell, the time loop gets upgraded, this makes the enemies stronger and inflict more damage to you. Every boss cell upgrade will give you less chances to heal in the checkpoint rooms. Once you have reached the third boss cell, you cannot heal anymore in the checkpoint room. This means that you need to complete the cycle with only your healing flask from the beginning. You can get up to four chances when the flask has been upgraded to the maximum. There are a few ways to refill the flask but they are rare. Another way to heal is to grab food from the ground and eat it; yuck! When you play on a higher boss cell difficulty you can find special doors, they range from one to five needed boss cells. Behind the door are special shops or good equipment, there are other possibilities. There are also lore rooms scattered throughout Dead Cells, these contain lore of the game and sometimes equipment or food.
You can use the cells to buy costumes for your character. You can change the appearance of the food that you find in the options menu. There are also challenge rifts scattered all over the biomes, they are randomly generated. If there is one in the current biome there will appear a little blue rune on the ground when you walk over it, you can interact with the rune to open a portal. When you enter the portal, you will find a bonus scroll and an accessory. If you pick one or both items the portal closes and you have to go through a small area filled with spikes and rotating spiked balls. In the biomes are randomly generated chests to be found, the chests will contain equipment and cells to help you in your journey. But beware! Sometimes there are enemies in the chest. Or the chest can be cursed! If a chest is cursed, he will ask you to hit him. The cursed chests contain very good items but what is the curse? When you are cursed and get hit by an enemy or a spike, you will be instantly killed. It won’t matter if you have full health. In the biomes, you can find a door where you need to pay gold to open the door for the equipment that is stored behind it. You can choose to destroy the door instead of paying but you will get cursed. You can live the curse by enemies without getting hit. The max curse I have found is 50.
Not only is the island and the people infected by the malaise, but it is also a mechanic in the game. Until you reach the fourth boss cell you won’t notice too much of the malaise infection. Only a few enemies will be able to infect you with the malaise when you get hit. What does this infection actually do? You get a bar under your health points that has ten points, with every hit that you take you gain one malaise point. With every bar filled the damage you will receive will be increased. When the bar fills all ten malaise bars, life will be soon over for you. Your health points will be reduced to 10% and most likely any hit taken will result in your death. When you have reached the fourth boss cell, the malaise bar will become more important. All enemies that hit you will inflict one malaise bar; this means ten hits from normal enemies will seal your fate. Is there any way to get rid of malaise bars? Yes, you can eat food to decrease the malaise by one bar, or you can drink a flask to reduce the malaise bars. At this point, I advise you to save your flasks for boss battles. This will create difficult situations for you many times. Beware on higher boss cell food can be infected with malaise!
If you die with cells they will all be gone, there is no way to regain the cells that you have lost. The cells can be delivered to the collector in the checkpoint room. All items you have unlocked you will be able to find in the game. You can play Dead Cells in different ways; there are many tactics to get rid of the enemies and their many items that you can use to change your fighting style. You can use the cells for permanent upgrades at the collector, for example: an upgrade that lets you start with better weapons. Until you have this upgrade you will start with the basic weapon choices. You can still find the basic weapons in the beginning area after you have upgraded this option. They will be hidden inside the walls of your prison cell. In Dead Cells, you also have skills and powers you can use to defeat the enemies. There are many tools ranging from throwing grenades to summoning an owl to help you fight. The weapons and skills all have a certain color that shows you for which build they are.
You can use shields with every build to deflect enemy attacks. A successful deflect will stun enemies for a second, giving you the opportunity to finish them. All shields have different bonuses. Test them out and learn which shield works best for you. Deflecting can be a very strong skill when used correctly; learning the attack patterns of enemies becomes important to deflect the enemy attack. If done successfully this is called a parry. The game contains many items and equipments it is impossible to list them all here. All weapons can have different affixes and attributes. With gold the stats can be re-rolled for gold in the checkpoint room between biomes Weapons can have a + sign, that means the weapon is stronger. When you get further into the game, weapons with ++ signs will become available. In the end, rank S is the highest sign of weapons. The higher the weapon power the more scroll bonus they can give to you, that means you will have more hp and damage to survive the dangers in Dead Cells The highest rank is level 12S, These weapons give extremely good bonuses and they usually are only available in the late end game. To find better weapons and equipments, you will need to upgrade the legendary forge. You need to use your cells for this. The legendary forge can only be upgraded after you have defeated a boss. When the legendary forge is upgraded to the maximum, all the weapons and skills found will be rank S. You can also find accessories to help you in your journey. The accessories can also be a higher rank and give bonus scrolls. The most important function of the accessory is the bonus skills. This can range from releasing poison when hit to being invisible. Please be aware that when you dying you will not only lose all your cells, and all your equipment, including re-rolled items and your gold, will be gone. Items you have unlocked will remain in the loot pool to be found again. With certain upgrades, you can get a random weapon from the loot pool from the start and keep some of your gold. These permanent upgrades are your main progression in Dead Cells.
The game has a lot of upgrade options and many items to create your specific build! But there is more, Dead cells also have mutations. You can choose three mutations when going through the biomes. These can be the cornerstone of a solid build or create a build. So what can these mutations do? For example: one mutation called frenzy lets you heal if you kill enemies very fast. Another one: will let you drop crowfoot bombs on the ground when rolling, these will slow your enemies. And the last example: necromancy will heal you even if you kill enemies slowly. There is one thing you need to consider in picking mutations; they also have colors allocated to them. When choosing the purple build, you will need the purple mutations. Scrolls will also upgrade the power of your mutations. There are also colorless mutations that can be used in every build. Mutations can also be useful in battling the malaise bar.
The game uses a scroll system to upgrade your stats. You need to choose before you start your run what color scroll you are going to use. You can only choose one scroll color for the run, doing a dual scroll run will result in certain death. The farther you get into the game, the more scrolls you are able to collect. This will upgrade your damage and your health points. There are three scroll colors and three main builds associated with them; keep in mind dying will reset your scrolls and all your items. The three builds can diverge in many ways, you can use many different types of weapons and skills to change the gameplay. When you pick a purple build, use all the scrolls to upgrade the purple tactics build. If the scroll does not give you this option, use the scroll that grants you the most health points bonus. There are legendary items that follow no specific color; they can be used in every build. There are also white colored items that can also be used in every build. The highest scroll status will be applied.
Purple build tactics:
The tactics build uses purple items, the most purple items are ranged weapons. There are a few purple melee weapons. Getting close to enemies with a tactics build can be dangerous. The tactics build is very squishy and you can die in two or if you are lucky in three hits. However, the damage you will inflict is insane. With the tactics build You get the ability to shred bosses in a few seconds. Dodging is essential for this build; you can also use the shield to parry enemy attacks. There are only three shields with the purple color, however, one blueprint is found in the fifth boss cell difficulty. The use of turrets is essential in a tactics build, for example: the item called sinew slicer. It will throw blades at your enemies and damage them. The enemies will also start to bleed. For example, the other turret that you can use is the heavy turret. The heavy turret will deal heavy damage and push enemies back. You can throw the two turrets at the same time for a deadly combination. There are many other turrets you can use to create your own tactics build. For the weapon a favorite of mine is the quick bow, it fires very fast. Combine this with a bleeding affix and the enemies won’t know what hit them. I used the shield called parry shield, in the beginning, I missed some parry’s but the longer I tried learning the parry’s the better I got at the timing. There are many more combinations and builds you can test, this was one of my favorite tactics builds. In short, when using a tactics build you will have very low health but high damage per second. I managed to reach the end of the fifth boss cell but got defeated by the true final boss
Red build brutal:
The brutal build will use many melee weapons and you will find yourself in close combat many times. The brutal build has a medium amount of health points and can have a very high damage output with the right tools. There are many weapons you can choose from. Next to melee there are also ranged weapons and whips to choose from. You have fewer shields to use in the brutal build than with the tactics build. For example: I have used the blood sword to bleed the enemies to death, combined with the bloodthirsty shield. When I deflected an enemy attack the enemy gets even more bleeding damage. For this build I have used the skill Lacerating aura; all the enemies that come in range will receive bleeding damage. The other skill I have used with this build was knife dance. This skill throws knives at the enemies, the enemies that get hit receive bleeding damage. For this build, there are four items to cause bleeding damage. I have also used the mutation: open wounds, to increase the inflicted bleeding damage. The other mutations that I have used for the brutal build are berserker and soldier resistance mutations. The soldier resistance mutation increases your maximum health points and also battles the malaise by only being able to be infected maximum once every second. I found this mutation useful for when I was in a tough spot and being cornered. The berserker mutation reduces damage taken for every killed enemy and this mutation also battles the malaise. You cannot be infected for a few seconds when you have killed an enemy. This brutal build was a very fun build to play, I liked seeing the enemies bleed! There are many more builds out there for you to try out some of the builds will work wonders and other builds will only get you killed. I have managed to clear the fourth boss cell difficulty with this build. The fifth boss cell difficulty was very tough but with practice, I could reach the end.
Green survival build:
The survival build is the most tanky build of them all. With his build can reach insanely high health points. It is possible to reach over 60k hp! Even though you have this many health points death can come quickly. The survival build has all the shields to choose from, you can choose from a mixture of melee and ranged weapons. The survival build is my favorite build because there is so much you can choose from to your perfect build. I have used the heavy crossbow, it deals very heavy damage. This weapon also stuns the enemies when you hit an enemy. In the other weapon slot, I used the thunder shield to deflect incoming enemy attacks. For the skill slots I used the tonic for healing, the other slot I used was the giants whistle for huge damage. The giant whistle comes in handy when you need to lift a curse. There are many mutations that are possible for the survival build. This is the build that I used to reach the secret ending!
Here is a little information about the bosses that you will encounter. Though I cannot tell you the difficulty of bosses; this is different for everyone. The Concierge for me is easy; I can defeat him without getting hit. The Time Keeper is difficult for me and I cannot defeat her without getting hit. For my wife it is the exact opposite, she really hates the Concierge. She can defeat the Time Keeper without getting hit. Depending on the route that you take the first boss you will encounter will be one of the following.
The first boss options The Concierge:
This boss has one big problem, he has a Gandalf the Grey complex. He stands on the bridge yelling, you shall not pass! If you do try to pass, he will become angry and attack you. The Concierge will shoot fire over the floor and try to smash you into bits. When he is hurt he will try to jump on your head. You are not a goomba so my advice is to roll towards him to dodge this attack.
What is the best thing to do when you have a giant monster in the sewers? You lock it up with iron chains! When you reach this boss, he will attack you with his tentacles and with poison. This boss will also try to crush you.
Mama tick (bad seed DLC):
This is a giant monster tick that is looking for a snack. Mama tick uses her scythes to try and chop you into pieces. Be sure to repay her by cutting the scythes off. The good news is that you can use these as weapons after beating her once and unlocking the item with cells.
The second boss options The Time Keeper:
She will use multiple attacks to harm you, including throwing stars and giant falling swords. The Time Keeper will not die when she is defeated. Instead, she will flee to keep the time loop going. With this boss, it is important to master your parry skill.
The Giant has very powerful attacks which can be hard to learn the patterns of. He will use his fists to squash you. He can also fire energy balls out of his fingers. His eyeballs are his weak point. You need to attack the giants’ hands. When the health bar of one of the hands is depleted, the eyeball will pop out of its socket. You will get a few seconds to inflict damage on the eyeball. Repeat until the giant is defeated. You will get the fifth boss cell from this boss when you defeat the giant with the fourth boss cell difficulty.
The third boss The Hand of the King:
This is the final boss unless you are on the fifth boss cell difficulty. He protects the king, to defeat the king you will need his weapon, the symmetrical lance. The Hand of the King can throw bombs at you, summon exploding flags and stab you. If you are not careful he will shove you into a pit of spikes. When the Hand of the King is harmed he will hide inside a shield and summon his minions. When he is defeated you can pick up the symmetrical lance and kill the king. If this is your first time defeating the Hand of the King you will gain the homunculus rune. With this rune, you are able to separate your head, the green blob, from your body. You will need to use this skill immediately to enter the fountain to start the next cycle.
The final boss The Collector:
The collector is the true final boss. You will lose all your cells when reach the Collector. He has multiple phases. When he finishes one phase, he will drink a panacea and heal. The goal in the last phase is to knock out the panacea out of his hand before he can drink it. This fight feels intense imagine playing for one hour and thirty minutes just to reach the collector. One mistake and you are dead and you need to start all over again! My heart was racing and I made a mistake, I died the first time.
Dead Cells might be an indie game but you won’t notice this because of the love and dedication the developers put into Dead Cells. This game took me and my wife by surprise; I had to convince my wife that she would like this game. She had doubts if she would like it. We purchased Dead Cells for the playstation4. After installing the game we tried it and we immediately got hooked. We took turns in getting to platinum. After we platinum Dead Cells on the playstation4, we even bought the game for the Nintendo Switch! My wife also bought Dead Cells on the P.C. for her birthday, it is on her to do game list. I am planning on buying Dead Cells for the P.C. We are looking forward to the Android release in the summer of 2020. I really recommend this game to everyone who likes a challenging game. If you like dark souls you like this too.
- The combat is very challenging.
- Easter eggs are hidden throughout the game.
- There are many builds to try out.
- The replay value is very high.
- The developers keep updating the game regularly.
- A good game for casual and hardcore players.
- There are many mechanics to discover in Dead Cells
- The progression in Dead Cells feels very natural.
- I like that you can figure out your own route and don’t have to take a certain path.
- There are secrets and lore rooms to explore.
- You died!
- Learning to parry can be difficult.
- It takes a while to find your build.
- You need to invest a lot of time to clear the fifth boss cell; you will forget that other games exist. I am not sure if this is a con.
- Dead Cells can make you rage quit but you will keep coming back. I am not sure if this is a con.
This game is amazing!
I give Dead Cells a…drumroll…
This game feels like a masterpiece to me! I am Looking forward to all the coming updates in Dead Cells.
I have played for 150+ hours.