Dead Cells is available for purchase on KeenShop for $24,20.
STORY & GAMEPLAY
On the gameplay side of things, Dead Cells is a hybrid of sorts. It is not a pure rogue game, nor is it a full Metroidvania game. Even the procedural generation is a hybrid system of sorts where chunks of levels are mixed and mashed together with a randomized layout of enemies, bosses, merchants and other points of interest. You have free reign of a certain level to go where you please, limited only by the required skills that you will probably acquire later in the game. Teleporters scattered around the level helps reduce the tedious backtracking and in keeping the momentum of the game going. The general goal is to reach the level's end and at this point, the game is mostly an endurance affair. Your goal is to go as far as you can, each time getting a bit stronger, be it in terms of newly acquired skills and weapons, or your own ability to play the game.
Death is only the beginning, cliched I know, but it truly is in Dead Cells. Much like Dark Souls, death is only the pathway to trying again. And trying again has never been more fun or addicting. This is mainly because of how tight and responsive the controls are. They make the game easy to pick up and play with an easy to use and tough to master type of deals with dodges, rolls and jumping being the cornerstone of what makes the movement so fluid which also translates to combat.
The more you play, the better you get and that's it. It's not all controls however, the gameplay features a bunch of weapons and abilities that complement your skill as a player. I say complement because you can, if you are skilled enough be just as effective with the starter sword and bow, provided you upgrade their damage for later levels. It's more fun, however, to switch it up a bit to find what suits the situation or your playstyle.
Swords, whips, bows, shields, turrets, traps, grenades and other can also be imbued with various elements such as fire, ice or electricity, and different enemies are often weaker to some of them. Learning the intricacies of enemy movement, attack patterns and abilities is what makes experimentation fun and although enemy variety is a bit lacking, they are made to perfectly fit the entire combat system.
Going back to the death being an organic part of the game – every weapon or skill you upgrade or buy at your local merchant using cells and coins you get from enemies remain upgraded even when you start again. You don't have the said skill or weapon from the get-go, but once you get it, all the upgrades from a previous playthrough remain. The game is meant to be replayed and procedurally generated levels keep them from getting stale and prevent memorizing the layout to keep you on your toes.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
Visual effects and sound play a big part in how satisfying combat and movement are. Even something simple as breaking through a door feels impactful and very satisfying both from a visual standpoint with the screen shaking and debris flying, and from an audio standpoint with a forceful sounding thud. Enemies also react to your every hit, being pushed back and breaking apart into a bloody mess. There's some sort of awesome visual-auditory feedback from combat and just about everything else you do and it makes the gameplay insanely satisfying.