GBAtemp Exclusive Switch Exchange #2: Dead Cells

Discussion in 'GBAtemp & Scene News' started by Scarlet, Jan 19, 2019.


    Front-page GBAtemp Exclusive

    Welcome to the second entry of Switch Exchange: the series that trawls through the Switch's massive library of untold gems and garbage so you don't have to! If you missed Chary's views on Angels of Death last week, I encourage you to check it out here!

    Chary Says...
    Welcome to my latest obsession! For the first game I’m recommending to Scarlet, I’m going with Dead Cells, an indie breakout hit with addictive gameplay. Most of my experience with Dead Cells stems from the very first Early Access beta in mid-2017, but as far as the Nintendo Switch version goes, it’s the full experience, and boy has the game evolved into a masterpiece. I’ve been dying to recommend this game, and I’m hopeful Scarlet likes it even half as much as I do.

    So after featuring a more obscure title, we find ourselves looking to a better known game this week. Acclaimed at launch, Dead Cells promised to provide a "rogue-lite metroidvania with some souls-lite combat". As somebody whose only look at Metroid was a bit of the first Prime game on the Wii, and whose only look at Dark Souls is seeing everybody call everything the Dark Souls of something, I was more than a little intimidated. Add into the mix the random nature of rogue-lites and to be quite honest, I was dreading it. With only a week to play before coming up with some kind of initial opinion, difficulty was my biggest concern, and after a week, it still somewhat is.

    The game starts as you drop into an eerie dungeon, soon to reanimate a headless corpse. From here, you're fed a few simple tutorials via non-intrusive on-screen prompts before being thrown straight in to figure the rest out for yourself. Right out of the gate, everything feels impressively fluid. Actions flow from one to another, creating a rewarding sense of satisfaction from chaining together the simplest of attacks and running away afterwards. Even when you slip up and die, you're thrown right back into your cell to start again. The game is seamless, and I think this is what fuels its addicting nature.

    Visually speaking, it shoots for a design some might just offhandedly label as "indie", but it really is taken to another level. Everything feels animated and alive: bubbles pop in cauldrons, your headless warrior sways back and forth when stood still, rats and flies congregate around piles of bodies. No matter where you look on-screen, something is happening. It does an incredible job of drawing you into the world and making you want to stop and stare from time to time.

    Back on the topic of difficulty however, I'm sad to say I didn't get all too far in the time I had. Only managing to beat the first boss, there's a lot more to be discovered here. Despite my inherent lack of skill, I still found myself coming back again and again. My progress may be slow, but each step forwards felt earned. Dying to a bat, dying to an exploding orb, dying by jumping off a castle because I didn't realise the screen had stopped scrolling; each death felt as though it could have been prevented and made me want to better myself to stop it happening again. This gradual progress is at the core of what I love about Dead Cells, this extending to the game's design as a whole. While each new run sees you start fresh with no gear or powerful mutations, there are certain permanent upgrades that stay with you. Starting the game with random items, getting additional health flasks, and even keeping some money after dying—you claw your way forwards knowing your deaths aren't entirely in vein. Everything feels fair and balanced, putting the light onto you as the player to improve and adapt to situations as they come.

    My time may have been short with this game, but it's definitely one I'll come back to finish. When that will be I don't know, but Dead Cells hasn't beaten me yet. I struggle to find reasons not to recommend it. While it's easy to be put off by difficulty, I feel so much of what this game has to offer comes from facing these difficulties, struggling, and overcoming them. It's put together in a way as to keep you coming back for more, and it's an experience I think any Switch owner should try.

    Have any thoughts of your own to add? Got any games you're dire to see myself or Chary play? Let us know your thoughts!

    :arrow: US eShop Link / UK eShop Link

    You can also find Dead Cells on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
    splymb, SLiV3R, codyjo and 9 others like this.
    Discussion (18 replies)
  1. PyroGoat

    PyroGoat GBAtemp Regular

    Feb 27, 2015
    United States
    Thanks for the review, I look forward to more of these.
    Chary likes this.
  2. RedoLane

    RedoLane GBAtemp Maniac

    Sep 16, 2016
    I always thought that it could be a pretty fun game on the go, just like Enter the Gungeon.
    Is there any framerate drop while in portable mode?
  3. Scarlet

    Scarlet A Convenient Oddity

    pip Reporter
    GBAtemp Patron
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    Our Patreon
    Jan 7, 2015
    United Kingdom
    Middleish North-Left
    I can say I didn't notice any, but I'm fairly lax when it comes to picking up on these things. It was definitely not bad to the point of me noticing if that helps lol
    RedoLane likes this.
  4. RedoLane

    RedoLane GBAtemp Maniac

    Sep 16, 2016
    that's good to hear. When i'll buy a Switch, i'll definitely pick it up! (even though I already own it on PC)
  5. CitizenSnips

    CitizenSnips a seldom-used crab named Lucky

    Mar 10, 2015
    United States
    This game usually runs pretty well on the switch, but you can notice some stutters here and there on both modes. Most of the time it's perfectly playable
  6. E1ite007

    E1ite007 GBATemp's Acid Techno DJ And Producer

    Nov 19, 2016
    My favorite PC game of all 2018.
    Chary likes this.
  7. Xzi

    Xzi All your base are belong to the proletariat

    pip Contributor
    Dec 26, 2013
    United States
    Spiraling Out
    Dead Cells is near-flawless. Makes me want a 3D Soulslike game with similarly fast-paced and responsive movement/combat.
    Chary likes this.
  8. gudenau

    gudenau Largely ignored

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    Jul 7, 2010
    United States
    Do I see the Convict from Enter the Gungeon in that banner?
  9. medoli900

    medoli900 Open the Benzenes Gates

    GBAtemp Patron
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    Our Patreon
    Jan 7, 2013
    Lavender Town
    Almost everything that Motion Twin touches is gold.
    Also, it's a crime to not play it in French with the Baguette food option.
    (MT is a French indie game dev company, for those who don't know)
    Victorum likes this.
  10. T-hug

    T-hug Always like this.

    pip Chief Editor
    Oct 24, 2002
    So I'll be completely honest, I played this on PS4 for 30hours for review last year and never beat it once, hence the lack of a review on GBAtemp.
    It's a great game but imo overrated and it once again shows how maps built with RNG can never compare to a properly crafted metroidvania level.
    I also play it on Switch quite a bit and do notice the slowdown in certain areas, like the pirate village and some of the later areas when there are lots of enemies and effects on screen - it's way more noticeable when speed running areas too.
  11. emigre

    emigre An electric type pokemons

    Jan 28, 2009
    United States
    Dead Cells is excellent.
    Chary likes this.
  12. Chary

    Chary Never sleeps.

    pip Senior Editor
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    Oct 2, 2012
    United States
    I agree with this, but at the same time, I think Dead Cells being entirely random + the rougelite elements is what helps it be so addicting. You never know what to expect, so you can just pick it up and play for a bit, put it down, and come back for an entirely new run. I'd love to see the devs make a fully fledged metroidvania though.
  13. Cyan

    Cyan GBATemp's lurking knight

    Global Moderator
    Oct 27, 2002
    Engine room, learning
    I fear it's too difficult, but that's probably the purpose and why it's a infinite death/revive game.
    I would have prefer a more well balanced game, more in the feeling of Symphony of the night and 2D metroid games.

    I don't think I'll try that game, as I tend to want to complete games I try, and I'll probably never will.

    Last month on PS+ there was Iconoclast as month's game. I heard it was a metroid like too, so I was very curious to try it.
    In the first hour, I found the game very weird, and uncommon. no intro, no proper explanation of what you had to do and where you were. I felt it was a kid game, with simple graphics at first.
    But, I continuously was going back to it, and understood more the story as I played. Finally, I think it's not for kids at all, and I really enjoyed completing it. the animation and characters are all very different and well done.
    I appreciated a lot that the game provide an official "infinite HP" mode ! really, I wouldn't have pass some of the boss without it.

    At the end, I think I appreciate more a game where I NEVER die, with nice puzzle and strong story with proper backtracking (it's rare), than an empty rogue-lite soul-type game where you ALWAYS die. too much frustration...

    You want a game for next Exchange? if you never tried iconoclast, that's a nice little game :P
    there is already a review of that game, but if you don't know it you could try to get a more "metroid-like" experience.
    Last edited by Cyan, Jan 20, 2019
  14. Victorum

    Victorum Member

    Mar 19, 2016
    It isn’t THAT hard tbh, I’m not a skilled player however this game is still enjoyable and rewarding to play

    The Risk/Reward ratio is perfect, completing a harder zone will unlock you a powerful weapon if you’re brave enough and manage not to take to many hits.

    Played a little 6/8 hours and killed this first « boss » a half-dozen times, it reminds me « Mom » in the Binding of Isaac, the first time you encounter her you die painfully, then you come to the point where it only becomes a step in you run ^_^
    Last edited by Victorum, Jan 20, 2019
  15. SLiV3R

    SLiV3R 3DS Friend Code: 0473-9069-2206

    Jan 9, 2006
    Is this game like Spelunky and Rogue Legacy? Then I will buy it for 100 %
  16. comput3rus3r

    comput3rus3r GBAtemp Psycho!

    Aug 20, 2016
    United States
    For those saying the game is too hard have you ever heard of cheats?
  17. splymb

    splymb Member

    Dec 8, 2018
    I like your picks! Been playing this game for weeks now; perfect for commute as it can be picked up in bursts.

    As for the difficulty I agree it's challenging however it gets easier with the permanent level ups and all the fancy gear blueprints found along the way.

    I play on handheld mode and only noticed frame drops a few times; this doesn't take away from the game though shouldn't put anyone off

    Oh and great replay value ;)
    Victorum and Chary like this.
  18. mrgone

    mrgone old man

    Nov 6, 2002
    close to the oktoberfest
    i'm playing it now occasionally for a few months.
    and there are still routes through the game i haven't found, the multiple paths are pretty great.