Dead Cells - Metroidvania Roguelite in Early Access


It is a nice game, but depending on your skill level, you may hit a pretty hard plateau a few hours in (about 5, in my case) where your progress will be tied to some grinding, and I think that a game playing so very, very similarly on each run doesn’t benefit from such a roguelite approach.
I have put it on hold, hoping they figure a way to make the game exciting beyond that point in the coming months.


How does this compare to Rogue Legacy?


Call me when it’s done. This game looks great, but life is too short for beta testing.


RPS just named this the best game of 2017. So I was really disappointed when I looked up the Store page on Steam. It came out in Early access in May 2017, and it’s expected to be in early access for 10-12 months? Aw man. I share @DaveLong’s sentiment. Call me when it’s done indeed.


Yeah that is BS and insulting to all the feature complete games released this year.


I just got it the other day and am really loving it, but yeah, early access games shouldn’t be up for awards.


I tried the game out and have put ~10 hours into it, enough to see ~85% of the current content. A few notes on the current state of the game:

  • The moment to moment game play and fighting is silky smooth. It really is a delight when things are working well and makes you feel like a complete bad ass ninja as you throw out attacks, combos, specials, and dodges against a wide variety of enemies. My only minor quibble is that I wish you could zoom out a bit in order to plan ahead more effectively. But kudos on this, the art/sound/animation/juice are all great at this level. Some of the levels are really beautiful & clever too.
  • The meta is still in flux and isn’t in a good place right now. The most effective strategy (as far as I can tell) is to go for an all defensive-power build (the powers are a bit misleading; what the game calls defensive powers are more like conservative powers. Slow to hit, and with some shielding possibilities built in). This is powerful, but also lends itself to slow and deliberate play. Which isn’t really where the game shines. Also, the improvement system works by saying "You can upgrade this aspect (offense powers/defense powers/util powers) by +25% of its current value. So each successive upgrade in a category gives exponentially larger rewards. The enemies are scaled in a similar way, which means that the later levels become extremely difficult if you haven’t upgraded correctly.
  • The game has a problem where the length of a full run (~2 hours?) conflicts with the rogue like nature of the game. Each time you play, you have to go through all the early and easy levels all over again. Furthermore, you need to explore each level thoroughly to get all the upgrades, otherwise due to the exponential scaling you will be completely gimped in the later levels. So you have later levels that are very roguelike and are willing to kill you at the drop of a hat, but to reach them you need to spend 1+ hours mining out the easy levels. This gets boring after a while and kills your enthusiasm for the game.

At least in the current state, I’d recommend Salt and Sanctuary or Rogue Legacy over Dead Cells. That might change in a year, but right now it has too many meta-issues that sap the fun from the moment to moment play.


That is quite weird, because while the game is enjoyable, it feels so far from being complete. Awesome first impression and time killer, for sure, but the balance is all over the place each consecutive update. I give it a try each time, but I am waiting for something more fleshed out.

Spot-on summary of what the experience feels like, @RothdaTheTruculent!


I wonder if this is a solveable problem. The scaling issue seems like a simple difference between adding and multiplying percentages, but most modern roguelites have a problem with grind anyway.


Guess all those other developers should have concentrated more on making a good game than just one that’s feature complete.


The usual roguelite solution to this is that some of the unlocks basically function as accelerators or skips. For example, in Everspace you unlock perks that increase starting resources and equipment while reducing consumption, so you don’t need as much from the early stages.


Uh… 2 hours is pretty short for real rogue likes.


Yeah it wouldn’t necessarily be the length that’s the problem, but having to repeat trivial things to get to the interesting part. That’s annoying even on the order of seconds or minutes.

This is probably my top all-time issue with videogames, heh.


I never found it to feel like repeating the same thing due to the item randomization. (The level randomization is pretty irrelevant, though).

A lot of times I’d decided that a particular weapon or spell was garbage, and never pick it up in the mid-to-late game. But early on you’re going to be picking up any spells no matter what, and constantly replace weapons with higher level ones with little regard for the moveset. So you end up playing with these really different loadouts that are outside your comfort zone, before the stakes are too high. And every now and then you’re rewarded by finally figuring out how some of the items are supposed to be used.


Same here. And roguelikes occupy a weird space in regard to this issue, where you never have to repeat the exact same content, but you might play similar content in the opening levels dozens of times before you reach the end once, far more than you would in a linear structure.

Part of the genius of Spelunky is that there’s no such thing as “max health” to get periodically reset to – even when your skills are at the point that you’re not worried about finishing the caves, it makes a big difference to arrive in the next section with some spare health and money rather than limping in on your last heart.


Headed to Switch!


And, y’know, PS4 and Xbox 1.


This looks like great fun, but I suck at this sort of game. How hard is it?


I haven’t found it that hard, then again I’ve played it less than an hour. :p

Looks like its nearing 1.0 release.


On sale for 33% off. Is it going up in price for 1.0?