Dead Cells is a rogue-like Metroid-vania style game developed by the studio Motion-Twin. So this game features procedurally generated areas which is something new to the genre of Metroid-vania since it’s usually all about remembering the layout of the map, finding secrets in it, and back tracking to older areas to unlock newer areas. Dead Cells throws all of that on its head with making everything well randomized. Survive long enough and you can play it like Metroid, but die and it’s time to start over. Sure, some of the areas are pre-designed, but they are constantly randomized, so you will never know where to go next whenever a new life begins.
In Dead Cells you play as a mass of cells, funny right? These dead cells control the deceased bodies of prisoners at the start of new lives that allow you to go about in the world. Dead Cells has a pretty regular combat loop to this genre, featuring some platforming while fighting enemies to progress. Combat becomes more interesting whenever you find new weapons, armor, abilities, and the occasional power ups.
The game even includes money, and enemies will drop cells which leads to them being used for a variety of things; such as extra health and power ups. Every now and then you will fight a boss enemy called a keeper. There are four of them you will have to fight to progress; The Watcher, The Assassin, The Incomplete One, and The Hand of the King. You will likely tackle these in a random order due to the nature of the game. Each keeper takes a different approach, but nothing too differing from the normal gameplay loop aside from being a boss enemy.
The game’s story is mostly just set up for the gameplay itself. You’re just on an island, some dead cells combine together and take the body of the prisoner, someone who doesn’t talk but shows some small personality every now and then. Most plot questions are left unanswered and vague as it’s all just there to set up to the gameplay. There are some environmental queues that have some storytelling, like what the island is, and what the bosses represent, but to avoid any spoilers it may be best left for the player to find.
The graphics in this game are great, sporting a more old school visual design with some modern adjustments. Dead Cells is so filled with color, mainly reds, oranges, and yellows, but it really makes the game pop and stand out while providing a sense of something not quite right going on – a very fitting vibe for the nature of the game.
The title’s soundtrack also helps fill this gap with some great atmospheric music and some incredible synth / throwback tracks that provide some great enjoyment when exploring the world or fighting enemies. In terms of pure presentation this is easily a contender for one of the best looking games of the year, just thinking about the visuals makes me want to jump back in and play the game again.
Dead Cells is a game that takes a new spin on the Metroid-vania genre with it’s rogue-like approach, but many players who are a fan of this genre will mostly feel right at home. It can be a bit of a challenge at times but don’t let that turn you away, you’ll be missing what is shaping up to be one of the best games of the year.
Dead Cells accomplishes everything it sets out to do at full force and there’s not much else to say besides the game is completely worth playing and buying. We don’t get too many titles such as this anymore, but this is a special one. Dead Cells gets a 9 out of 10, just try not to die, you’ll have to start over!
RGN Rating: 9 / 10 (Gold Game)
Available On: PS4, Switch, Xbox, PC
Played On: Sony PlayStation 4
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RGN for free by the publisher for the purpose of this review.