Dead Cells - Metroidvania Roguelite in Early Access

I stumbled on this over at IGN, they had the first 15 minutes in a video being streamed while I was there, and the art style intrigued me enough to click on it. I’m really glad I did. I only saw a brief mention of it in the Indie Games thread, but I feel it deserves it’s own space. It looks like it just hit early access yesterday.

This is a bit like the game from a few years back, Rogue Legacy, in that it’s an action style, side scrolling title where death is the end of your run, but you can earn things that make subsequent runs easier and easier. It’s really got a lot of potential, and while I haven’t bit yet (it’s on sale 15% from $16.99 to $14.44 for some reason) I will sooner rather than later. I watched a few folks play it (including the aforementioned IGN video) and it is really clicking for me.

Precise, fast paced combat that looks like real, honest fun coupled with lots of cool enemies to fight and loot to be picked up. What more could you want?

Something finished. :)

Well, I did mention it was Early Access in the thread title… :)

On the plus side, general sentiment on the discussion boards is like Darkest Dungeon and some of the other, more successful Early Access games, it sounds like a complete game right now.

Yeah but they plan to ‘double’ the amount of content. So it’s half done. ;)

Does look cool though, definitely wish-listing it.

I actually just saw this in an unrelated video yesterday and marked it to watch since it does look very promising.

I seem to be hoovering up indy titles like crazy in the last year or two and loving them. Even better if some of those gems hit the Switch so I can indulge even easier.

To me it sounds like something I’d be better off waiting until release, but worth getting then. Might not be enough content right now.

I bit on it. The core mechanics are there and seem really good, and the systems look like they’re there, but it’s definitely got a ways to go - in the first five minutes I was encountering placeholders for systems that are not yet running. I don’t regret buying it and am digging the combat, but it needs more development time.

I couldn’t play anything but Dead Cells yesterday. It’s so good. And to think it will get even more content and polish! It’s a fantastic game, well worth buying now (or waiting for later, of course).

I played this for 15-20 minutes at PAX East and it was a ton of fun, one of the best games on the show floor IMO. The gameplay/mechanics seemed pretty much all there even at that point. I generally stay away from Early Access games, and this year has been stacked so far for games, so I’ll probably wait… but good to hear more good impressions, because I definitely want in when it’s done.

This is very good so far, although there’s not much in the way of immediate upgrades to improve the character.

It also further cements for me that the Salt & Sanctuary guys really shouldn’t have stuck to their guns on no auto map “because Dark Souls”.

That reminds me of another thing I dislike about roguelites: the maps you warp around to make sure you’ve covered every inch of the level before going to the next one. It’s convenient but it feels too mechanical. I wonder what game started that trend.

I think that issue dates back even to the roguelikes that didn’t feature some timed clock system.

Edit: as far as saying who the worse culcript of the recent trend has been, I’ll start the trend by pointing an accusing finger at Diablo.

Clearing a map is one thing, and does warping makes it convenient.

I think I’m just scarred from Enter the Gungeon where they do it too. I disliked that game.

I’ve played a few hours of this now. Lots of fun.

  • Controls really well, except that there seems to be something odd with the hitboxes of ledges that you try to double-jump to. A lot of time I think I’m totally grabbing the ledge, but somehow just slide into the wall. Anyone else seeing that?
  • I really like the curse mechanism, where you can choose to become cursed to get an item, but will die from any single hit. Curse is lifted when you’ve killed X enemies; lowest I’ve seen was 10 enemies, highest 40 enemies. And 40 is a stupidly high number, not sure an average level even has that many enemies on it. Nothing drives home how sloppy and cavalier my normal playstyle is, than trying to kill even 10 enemies without being hit even once.
  • It took me far too long to realize that just finding a blueprint did nothing, you also need to spend cells to unlock it. The problem is that the unlocks are hidden in the middle of boosts for your existing item types. Feels like they really should be on a separate tab.

Looks like they just released a pretty big update, but you need to opt in to it using the Steam version selection feature.

The update I mentioned above seems to be live now. Beat the game on both of my attempts with the new update, after only having got to the final boss once in about 50 runs in the previous version. So it might be that the game has been made easier in ways other than the shield change.

First run was with a shield I never blocked with (just carried for the iframes), a weapon I pretty much never swung (just carried for +1 skill), a Fire Grenade and a Knife Storm. That was actually the first time I used a Fire Grenade, which looks really wimpy based on the description; I’d only equipped it for another +1 skill bonus. But it turned out to be phenomenal. Probably the best area clearer, especially after they nerfed the Horizontal Turret and the Meatgrinder. With 8 skill, basically everything except a boss would be one-shotted by either of the two skills.

Second run I intentionally did not use a shield. I was hoping to do a low skill run, but ended up with 6 strength 5 skill anyway (didn’t find any +strength items, and any elective stat upgrades always go to health). So I used a Flammable Sword and Blood Sword (both found in the Ossuary; basically no weapon changes for the whole game). The Flammable Sword was particularly funny; it was my primary weapon, and I never actually used the primary ability due to having nothing that could ignite the flammable oil. But both swords had a stat bonus, and they had synergy in that the Blood Sword could trigger bleeding, and the Flammable Sword had a +30% damage on bleeding targets.

It’s a bit annoying that the stat bonuses are so good. It’s hard to justify using an item that doesn’t have one. For example I unlocked the Impaler in the first game, and found two separate ones in the second games. It seems to have an amazing moveset, but by the time I found them, anything without a stat bonus was going to be inferior. So I had to leave them behind. On the other hand, it does mean that you occasionally have reason to use even the items that look like garbage, and learn how to actually use them.

Anyway, I think I’ll retire the game until the next update. Still a cool game, but at this point I think the content I have left would be a lot of grinding and artificial speedruns to unlock a few more blueprints.

Beta update 4 is out:

RPS did a write up a few days ago, I think I am gonna get on board this early access train.

Looks like they’ve fixed the thing I was complaining about the last time I posted, where items with stat boosts were just too good, to the extent that there was never any point in equipping anything else if you had the option. Of course, they fixed it by making those items much less common… :)

But yeah, it looks like it might be time to dip back in. There’s a ton of new stuff added in the last six months.

From the very little I played, this seems like a great game, and you can tickle slime’s.