Review of the Dead Cells

Dead Cells — a simulator of fighter insects and rodents in the dungeons of the prison island, which developers are trying to pass off as a roguelike with elements Metroidvania. The game is designed for the use of turrets and traps is a tower defense game with procedurally generated rooms and corridors instead of the usual genre of tracks with monsters. All other elements were bolted to the underlying mechanics of hindsight — in the game they are completely not needed.

Dead Cells enjoys a very good reputation on Steam and earned laudatory reviews from Western critics. Both easily explained.

First, for a year of games in Early Access, the developers at Motion-Twin are only doing what a fan service for hardcore fans of bagels. According to the chief designer, 50% of the content in Dead Cells appeared under the influence of the user reviews. In the end, I find it difficult to name another game of any genre in which authors have managed to cram such a huge amount of combat mechanic for an extremely narrow category of players.

Second, the Dead Cells can be guaranteed to pass “from and to” set aside for familiarization with the game and writing the review 20-30 hours is an extremely rare quality for a full-blown roguelike.

At first glance, the Dead Cells present all over the game so praising: retro pixel art with modern effects, stylized from all your favorite fantasy games music, huge, precise to the last pixel of the combat mechanics and the incredible complexity, can crush even a veteran of the genre. About the music, I’ll talk at the end as about the least controversial (but still not representing nothing special) items. First, let’s deal with the local pseudo-fighting and as if the difficulty of the passage.

The spread of weapons and combat mechanics amazing — apart from the usual swords-axes and firearms (which is then disguised as “crossbow-shotguns” and “Luke-guns”) have shields “like in Dark Souls”, whips straight from Сastlevania and even the ability to kick enemies spiked shoes, as in awful cult hit Kick Master 1992 release.

Weapons can be upgraded and lightweight random effects, in which the opposition is dying, and in agony. Bleeding profusely, suffering from poisoning of predatory and eat worms — and in the fire, ice and under the slowing effect. Every sword, bow, or whip has its style of combat — we haven’t begun to deal with the return of arrow and the system of blocks and parries.

This whole pile of trash weapons came to play “by popular demand”. Nothing balanced. Something works fine from the first level, is something that requires an immediate upgrade or long training, and some mechanic (the same shields or magic) to Dead Cells well would cost all but the most diehard fans of such passage. But this in itself is not so bad — at least the developers did great work on the animations and physics use the combat stuff. Tactile in the game is equally a pleasure to use and the little bow, and a huge war hammer.

The first suspicions creep, when you get to the final boss, never using the button “fire”. They become stronger when you repeat the whole process, never once touching the button “kick”. And when you get to the last boss, never touching neither to the one nor the other button… There it is here to stay: despite all the praise from grateful players, with the combat system of the game something is fundamentally wrong.

The thing is that the weapons Arsenal of the hero of Dead Cells is not limited. It has two slots for auxiliary means traps or grenades. Grenades with different effects — one unnecessary in the game mechanics under the narrow category of players, so we will not consider and will focus on the traps.

This is classic turrets and traps, circular saws and other delaying or tearing the enemy to pieces adaptations of mobile games, which you along the path is a long line of slow zombies. I hated tower defense and didn’t even think to use traps — I was going to place Dead Cells as Bloodborne rolling and the lightest weapon. But after one or another of the hundreds of shameful death, I still tried to put automatic thrower disc of a circular saw and no time to look back as completely stopped using weapons.

This is not the style of the passage is a universal tactic that always works and everywhere except for the very last battle where you deliberately locked in close quarters with an army of elite enemies. In the struggle with ordinary opponents, you jump in the room, put two traps, rolled back and calmly wait until ornament with circular saw process the contents of the room. In the battle with the boss drop the auto-crossbow, and saw in a strategically advantageous position and fully focus on departures from enemy attacks, while traps damaged.

It all comes down to the existential dilemma: if you fight for yourself, you will sooner or later kill, and it’s permadeath and quite long (10 minutes boss) replay the entire party. If you use traps, then to die can only in case of gross violation of safety in the operation of the means of Stripping the dungeons.

But nothing can replace the convenience of playing on a smartphone in the subway or on the road. It’s best to download PIXEL GUN 3D on any website like this one and play in fun.

Over the enemies in Dead Cells also work very hard, planning unpleasant surprises for the various categories of players. Love as soon as possible to run on the level — some teleports enemies will catch up and stab you in the back. Weigh every action for a long time and study the routes of enemies — sooner or later arrive a grenade or small phasing leech.

Damage from the trifling blow in Dead Cells so monstrous, and non-lethal weapons to restore life to unfold so slowly and painfully that hand to hand combat, and fight in an unacceptable risk.

If you have mastered the jumps-rolls and can intelligently pop in pop out with full evil playgrounds by putting a trap, 90% of the dangers of eroding. Remains teleport beasts (mainly elite opponents), but they can also be properly “taken” by moving traps to a new corridor and dragging it hither and thither to no avail you’ve been chasing monsters.

The concept of permadeath and the rogue genre, in General, was invented to cause the player an adrenaline maximum. The feeling of flying on the crest of a wave, balancing on the razor’s edge in those few minutes or even seconds, when you have time to pump, find a normal weapon, armor, amulets, and feel the coolest in the entire maze.

It does not last long — you kill, or you get through the game. All have to start from scratch (in a roguelike from scratch). But those few seconds of survival in a world where everything wants to kill you with one or two strokes and the intensity cannot be compared with anything in video games, that’s the reason for the popularity of the genre and veterans and beginners. What’s the difference, killing you at ground level or the last boss… the charge you received.

In Dead Cells, such emotions arise only in one case — when you first come to a strange level, and I don’t know, what can local enemies. Designers throw nice enough-a sneaky stunt where the levels are generated horizontally, some vertically, somewhere there is always huge grids which do not expect anything, except for enemies and death, somewhere you need to go to any other randomly generated layers and find the key to the door in the original maze.

But all of it works as long as you don’t draw a map of the level and do not understand the principle of its generation. When you know where some will be out, secrets and the threat of “elite mob” the level of the passage becomes monotonous, safe sweep traps. Moreover, if you suddenly have to engage in because of some unforeseen circumstances, find that even basic skills with sword and bow you have had time to atrophy!

The game has many upgrades and improves the characteristics of the character of mutations, of which use you will have one or two. All the rest is useless junk, the illusion of content, which needs only to have something to open. Here it is seen that Dead Cells did professional developers of mobile games. Compare: one mutation resurrects you on the spot, the other… well, it gives +75 damage bonus subject to certain, very specific conditions of the location of enemies.

In the second half of any passing infrastructure Dead Cells is transformed into a dead city from stores where you have nothing left to buy, NPC, outstanding mutations and upgrades that you don’t need, and stations restore health that you have a full. Only a couple of good traps and good effects on them. I don’t know what better symbolizes the fundamental flaws of the game design than the station restores health in one of the later levels, which does not cause the player any emotion.

And finally: the creators of Dead Cells filled up the main fork of the mechanics of roguelike games: “risk vs. reward”. Because after each level and before each boss, the game gives you the chance to restore health fully. There is no incentive not to swing and take the risk, pass the levels as quickly as possible to meet with the boss or a more complex dungeon in good shape.

In Enter the Gungeon, say, every room is a subject of painful computing, calculating, enough weapons and ammunition to one of this particular cage bosses. If it is not enough, we have longer on the level of risk to reach the boss with a solid Arsenal, but absolutely no health.

In Dead Cells, you need to methodically swing for the umpteenth time, without any risk to pass the same nuisance levels, collecting upgrades to reach the final boss with a long lip balm and powerful weapons or protection.

The battles take place on the same scheme. The first boss is a slow laggard with children’s patterns. Then he starts spamming AoE-attacks and creeps in more rapid succession. In the end, he STILL accelerated, making it impossible to read the attacks and timely response to them. In the end, “pass all with default crossbow” (same as in entering the Gungeon) will not work, only possible three outcomes of the battle:

You pump enough that the boss did not have time to kill you, and it took the trap.
You took away the remaining health of the boss with some superweapon and won without taking damage.
You died.

Perhaps we could complicate the passage of Dead Cells, essentially playing without traps, and for an hour before reaching the final boss for the death in those seconds, the chaotic bustle. That’s just for what it is doing?

Combat mechanics of the game you’ve already seen, and in addition to her Dead Cells are not able to offer anything. Pixel art is cute, but I think in 2018 it is foolish to praise the artists for what they are more or less acceptable was able to draw such a typical fantasy location, like “forest,” “castle” and “Sewerage”. The music is also quickly starting to cut the ears with his blatant borrowing from Diablo (this guitar) and Dark Souls (the choir).

Except level in the clock tower, and that the design and the picture with a shining through the window the moon — an unusual sight. Even the music is a real work of art and not just stylized Castlevania. But he’s the one.

The game has no story, just bits, and pieces from the oeuvre of George R. R. Martin (one of the bosses so far name is The Hand of The King) with very stupid and inappropriate violations of the “fourth wall”. When the main character drops something in the spirit of: “Well, how am I going to upgrade my crossbow at the grindstone? What a crooked game design!”, this breaks immersion, immersion in the atmosphere and the game world is not so much about advancement and the irony of the authors but the complete lack of editing of the text.

There is not even the main character — the only the alter-ego of the player in baggy pants and a red tunic, showing the “fake” NPC. Elements of platforming and Metroidvania there occur so rarely that they did not deserve mention.

Games like The Binding of Isaac showed that in the genre of a roguelike, you could tell amazing stories. Enter the Gungeon has proved that even with minimal story, you can create a brilliant game due to the uncompromising complexity and intelligent, creative and honest design bosses. So no need to do Dead Cells discounts on the genre, “the bagels are so accepted.” Nothing of the sort. The developers just spent a lot of time on the most insignificant aspects of the game, not making or scoring midway through the elements that a weapon would be fun to use on enemies and bosses.

If you buy Dead Cells on Steam after the initial excitement of it is lost in your library. At first, everything might seem addictive, but if you do not run the game a couple of days, you are not likely to be the reasons and desires to return to it. Dead Cells do not know intriguing history or a gradual exploration of the world, offers an interesting level progression and bosses, for which you would like “more time to go on Conjunctivitis”. It’s just another, not the worst, but absolutely the entrance to the bottom with phony reputation.

The Switch is not so simple. Despite the high price, the Nintendo store, Dead Cells are very playable in a handheld mode in cases when you need to kill 10-20 minutes on something that does not require any mental or physical effort. In this case, the simulator setting rat traps are perfect — and you will find that holding a real mobile Kazuki that the developers so carefully masked.