Dead Cells

Monday, September 10, 2018

A couple months ago? I hadn’t known the gaming terms Metroidvania or roguelike.

The former came to my attention after investing an embarrassing amount of hours into Hollow Knight, a beautiful side-scrolling adventure with a (huge) fixed map that requires lots of backtracking as you gain abilities. I’m at a point where frustration of a few bosses is too high, so it’s time to shelve it, but it was superfun while it lasted.

Enter Dead Cells to scratch the itch when I want to turn off the noggin for a few and make pixels move around differently on a screen than the day job.

And oh how pretty these pixel are. It feels visually more like Castlevania, but elevates the aesthetic with some really solid lighting effects, depth and animation. Instead of roguelike, it’s rogue-lite. There’s no turn based battle, but the levels are procedurally generated, meaning: nothing is in the same place when you die.

And you’ll die often, starting over at the beginning, losing (almost) everything in your inventory. But as you go along, getting a little farther each time, you’re also gaining some traits that are permanent, like health restoration potions you can use once, then twice and so on.

It’s a totally different approach to gaming for me. I’m usually a point A to point B kinda player, but this encourages getting better at going with the flow, identifying patterns and honing tactics. At first I could last five minutes, but the capture above shows I can best an hour on a single life.

Not sure where this is going to fall into the personal catalog of favorites, but it feels like it’s going to rank high.