Dead Cells - Metroidvania Roguelite in Early Access


I’m still not used to where I can fall down and where I can’t in Ramparts. So I’ve fallen to my death once, and other times I’ve fallen down and been revived back to where I fell, but with much less health, which later leads to my death.

They really do a good job invoking a fear of heights as a result of that (in Ramparts).

Plus the wizards have a weird timing. Sometimes I can parry their attacks with no problems, but other times they always get me.


Just roll when a wizard projectile is close! It’s a reflex for me already. Because their trajectory was decided when it was launched, they are easily avoidable.


I dislike the parry mechanic. Fortunately purple seems to also be a viable color.

Second boss is a million times easier with good deployables. RIP Wolf Trap :*(


Use the turret drops for these types, straight-up melee combat becomes extremely punishing after a few levels. I’ve been doing well with double-turrets, stacking purple, and using the mutation that drops the strategy cooldowns. Then the game becomes about making sure you stay in close enough range to keep your turrets powered after you drop them, and strategically re-dropping them. Rather than a shield, I look for a good ranged weapon with nice bonuses (bleed, fire, etc.) that can accelerate turret kills.

EDIT: too bad turrets don’t help that much against the eyeball boss.


I tried this turret strategy in the Ramparts today. The key is not to employ the turret strategy too early. Neither the Toxic Sewers nor the Promenade is suitable for a turret strategy. But it works really well in the Ramparts.

I was making such great progress, more than I’ve ever made before (I’m getting much better at avoiding falling to my death). However, I totally got overzealous when fighting wizards and forgot they can fire at me through solid floors, and I forgot to take a potion. Not a single swig of potion in that level! What a waste.

Different topic. It’s sooooooo hard to describe the appeal of this game to people. I tried today. It doesn’t help that I don’t like the genres that this game belongs to generally, so I don’t really have the vocabulary for what makes it so addictive.


I wrote a fair bit in another forum about it, let me repost them:

Also my GOTY! It isn’t perfect, I needed a mod in the pc version to alleviate the excessive grind. But beyond that, it has:

  • great combat
  • amazing flow
  • procedural levels that are decent to play and still maintain unique characteristics instead of falling into being too generic
  • interesting builds you can do with your skills, mutations, and random items and weapons you find and upgrade
  • great variety of combat at your disposal (from dodge heavy & fast playstyle, to shield+slow weapons, to ranged weapons, spells, turrets, traps, grenades, all with random attributes to the items that allow for even more combos, like a weapon that that create clouds of poison and summon maggots from corpses, which attack enemies and create even more clouds of poison)
  • mod support like I mentioned
  • secrets in the level with real reward (a new blueprint for a new weapon, item or mutation)
  • one of the best sets of enemies in an action game in the last year, with 30 enemies each one with their own set of attacks, animations, type of movement, special attributes and abilities.

There is a lot of brilliance in the basic action of this game. Everyone agrees the animations, the controls, the enemy feedback are great, but the game feels so good thanks to that, and a series of systems added into the game that are more subtle, like:

-the rally effect: you can recover some health you just lost by dealing damage to the enemies quickly. This allows for a somewhat fast, agressive and fun style within a game that otherwise is hard enough to be better to play conservatively.
-death prevention: if someone would kill you in one hit when you are over 25% hp, you are left with 1 hp and with a time slow down, enough to save the situation.
-interrupt system/breach: you can briefly stun enemies by dealing a big amount of damage to them while they are doing an attack or defense animation. Some weapons are better/worse in doing this, and some enemies are better/worse at resisting it.
-speed bonus: kill several enemies in a limited amount of time, and you win a speed bonus, which allows you to maintain the bonus even more time.

It’s thanks to all this that the flow of the game is so good.

It also has a nice environment interaction layer that increase the variety of the action, like:
-breaching a door and stunning who is behind it.
-break a ceiling and do a lot of damage to whatever is below it.
-dive from the heights to do damage on the ground in aoe.
-Pull or push enemies with some items and weapons to make them fall from ledges and receive damage.
-Water interact with fire, cold and electricity damage in the way you would expect. Fire also interact with oil.

The variety is also superb for an action roguelite, a few examples of different builds you can do:
-You can try to max hp by balancing correctly your stats and take then the +50% hp mutation.
-You can try go full offensive by investing in only one stat (red/purple/green), killing everything in one or two hits but being a glass cannon.
-You can use a combination of stuns like frost blow and heavy melee weapons.
-Or quick weapons like the dagger or the gauntlets and try to interrupt their attacks, rolling to avoid any enemies.
-or you can use shields to block damage, parrying hits and even returning projectiles.
-You can use ranged weapons, like bows that have to be fired on the precise moment, or that do extra damage at long or close range.
-Or find a great combo with the random affixes for the weapons and items, that for example apply bleed, poison and fire all at the same time.
-Maybe you prefer to use two turrets and let them kill everything for you while you try to stat at the optimal range.
-Some items are interesting for the defensive ways they ca be used, like the explosive decoy that makes you invisible or the Wings of the crow that allow for limited floating around.

Finally, it has the best group of enemies in a game from the last years. Each one has a clear gameplay niche that isn’t covered by any other one. They all have different attack patterns, and special abilities.
There are enemies that:
-attack you in melee, leaps (zombie)
-attack you with ranged weapons (archer)
-throw cluster or normal explosives (bombardier, grenadier)
-have ranged attack that goes through walls. (inquisitor)
-have a chained attack combo (slasher)
-make a dash charge against you (bat)
-fly around (bat, corpse fly, etC)
-explodes in close proximity to you (kamikaze)
-teleports close to you (Runner)
-teelports you close to him (golem)
-have a wide aoe attack (tornado knight, mushroom)
-spawns more enemies by itself (Hammer)
-can bury on ground (Scorpion)
-spawn explosives on death, or spawn more enemies on death (purulent zombie, worm)
-have a side that deals damage to you if you melee them (Thorny) or have an invulnerable side (shield zombie)
-make other enemies invulnerable (dummy enemy)
-Makes enemies invisible (fog guy)

Hell, I think lots of other roguelikes or even normal action or action rpg games could learn a bit from Dead Cells in how important is to have truly different enemies to mix up the action.

The fun part of Dead Cells is to try in each run the breadth of different weapons, items and mutations, making each one different. That’s the core part of the game, that’s why it’s a roguelite, and not a straight action game. If you find a good bow on the early levels, that run will be ranged, if you find a shield with a decent synergy with another weapon, take it, if you find a cool saber or a lance or some boots or a magic spell, it’s fun to try different things and try to make it work.

This is possible because the game has a good variety of weapons and items, for example weapons aren’t different colored sprites that spew damage at slightly different rates, each one has pros and cons, with different animation sets and different abilities. One can go over enemy shields. Another always apply oil. Another does critical damage to enemies against walls, or does it if you hit the enemy in the back. So if you find the War Lance, the fun part is spontaneously trying to play in a different way than in another runs, playing a ‘minigame’ inside the game, the minigame of grouping up enemies and then attacking hitting several enemies (as that procs the critical strike in the Lance).
Not every run will have exactly the same chance of success with all random weapons, but it doesn’t matter a lot in a game where you are supposed to play dozens of runs. In any case, in Dead Cells it’s usually more important to have a good combination of weapons/items than to find a single good weapon, which makes the attitude of ‘this x weapons are good and these y weapons are bad’ even sillier (apart that in most cases ‘bad’ mean ‘different’). For that, you have tools to make it happen, with the shops to buy new weapons if you don’t find a good combo and with the re-rolling attributes system.

The game also has a custom mode in 1.1 for people like him, where you can select what weapons will appear on a run.

Someone above said the game ends with the final boss, and once you get to see all the levels, well, there is no reason to replay. I don’t agree with that. The game has an END, yeah like all games, but imo is when you unlock all the blueprints in the game, and see the entire entrance with all the flasks full (or at least almost full). This isn’t being completionist for completionist sake, as I explained new blueprints open up new ways of play, new tactics, new combinations. It’s new content, in other words.


Nice summation, TT. There’s both depth and polish at work in this game.


Is 1.1.10 available for Playstation 4 yet? It’s been around three weeks since its PC release, and sounds like it pretty majorly improves the game.


I don’t think it’s already available for any console.


Is this an ongoing thing where it is heavily delayed for console release? It sounds like a major upgrade, and I’d rather have the game on console, but maybe not if it is always a month or more behind.

Has there been any estimate as to when it will release for console? I googled quickly, but did not immediately find anything.


The console version of Dead Cells has always been a few months behind the PC version. They have a small team and such.

Also, this console update is supposed to have some major performance improvements for Switch, so that’s probably a bunch of extra console-specific work they had to do which didn’t directly carry over from the PC version.


While the changes sound nice and all, I’m not feeling any deficiency in the version I’ve been playing on Xbox.

By the way, beating the first boss in the game also unlocked the timed daily challenge mode. That’s just crazy hard. In the main game when I reached the boss, I had some pretty strong turrets that I deployed as I stayed away from the boss. In the couple of times I reached the boss, having to only fight him manually with no help from grenades or turrets, it was really tough.


It’s an indie game, so it isn’t unusual. Xbox, Playstation, Switch… apart of the development job, all of them have their own certification system updates has to go through.


Gotcha. Maybe I’ll just hold off on buying it for a while then.


I can’t speak to the game it will become with patches, since I don’t have the PC version, but the game I’m playing on console is excellent and totally worth getting and playing as it is right now.


I think it’s “late January”. That’s what I came up with after Googling around trying to find the answer myself, but I don’t recall the source.



Just finished an incredible run. I got through the Ramparts, through the Black Bridge, through the Stilt Village, through the dark Crypt area (Forgotten Sepulcher?)(1st time!), through the Clock Tower(1st time), and finally got destroyed in High Peak Castle. The enemies in High Peak Castle were really hard to parry and hard to dodge. It was crazy. I wish I could get some practice in that area without having to reach it, if you know what I mean. :)


High Peak Castle is the last level (before the final boss), and yes, it’s a good difficulty bump. Eventually you will grok it, and learn what to do against every type of enemy, but the first 3-4 times it’s pretty hard.


Yeah, castle enemies are much scarier than any previous. I still haven’t beaten it, heh. Only played a couple runs since the latest patch on a new save though.


Motherf… I just made it to the Hand of the King for the first time and died with him at like 10%. I’m sure there’s another phase or something, but damn if traps just aren’t the best things ever.