Sooooo Dark Souls meets Metroidvania…
Dead Cells – Nintendo Switch – Released: 8/9/2018 – $24.99
Dark Souls has always been an interesting concept to me. I have played many of them but never really gave them the time and effort to complete due to the unfairness they provide. Metroidvania games on the other hand are one of my favorite types of games making me want to continue the story and learn about what is going on. Dead Cells takes both of these concepts and tries to blend them together… Sadly it takes the worse aspects of these games and brings them to the Switch. The biggest problem on Switch is there is very noticeable frame skipping to the point where your character can die because of it. This has caused a number of my deaths in the tower sections, during boss fights or dropping into an area full of enemies.
Here is an example of one of my runs:
The Dark Souls aspect is that you are clueless, will grow powerful but ultimately forever doomed to restart your adventure until you finish it. This is not a great game design and reeks of a team that didn’t fully want to commit to a longer or fuller adventure to tell a unique story. Dead Cells doesn’t provide a well thought out story much like Dark Souls so if you aren’t in it for the adventure, what is the point of completing the game? Unlike Dark Souls that tells the story if you go looking for it. Dead Cells drops you into the world with the only information that you are the first to be cursed to come back after each death. There is nothing else…
The Metriodvania aspect is that new abilities can be picked up, upgraded, or expanded over the course of the play through. A story driven game that requires you to pick up items to expand the story, this works great. Dead Cells fails to provide that critical point… a story. I felt no attachment to the character or felt it was necessary to continue playing. You know something is wrong with a game when you can’t remember the main character’s name and the website for the game doesn’t provide any answers for the story either. Doesn’t help that the main character has no tongue and characters don’t bother to even give him a name.
While Dead Cells has a unique look and overall unique game design it doesn’t know what it wants to be. The main character has a lot of neat animations that would go great with a story about him. The opening area shows all the items that you have collected and ones that you haven’t…. You know what would go great with that? A character that reflects the needs and wants of this collection instead of serving as an area that I quickly run pass.
There was never a point in Dead Cells that I cared about any of the locations I went to, no area really felt unique since all of them served only as a play area. The only area that was somewhat unique is the sewers as they have poisoned waters but otherwise nothing. Remember the first time you traveled to Norfair? Remember feeling your heart pound for the first time as you noticed you were taking damage from how hot the area was. Dead Cells tries something like that which is the towers area expect nothing scared me as I easily jumped from tower to tower with no fear. No enemies were close enough to push me over the edge and the spaces between the towers never required any precise jumping.
One of my favorite parts about the game is the tutorial character, she is so awesome in explaining things and seeing her from time to time was great. Spoiler warning! After you have died a few times she dies randomly and we obviously never see her again. The one saving grace in this game is killed off within 1-2 hours of gameplay. The only other thing is the very minor interacting with rooms that have evidence of previous involvement with the area. Seeing someone working on a cure, someone reading books about a topic, and someone trying to escape is great but serve no benefits. The only other character is someone who is trying to find something and asks you to retrieve it for them but you ultimately end up keeping it for yourself.
Bosses…. Where do I even begin? If you decide to rush to these bosses, you will die… if you decide to take your time and stock up on everything, you will die. Learning the patterns is the only way to truly beat these bosses. As many of them have patterns but are unfair unless you have the correct weapons. You only obtain these weapons by playing the game which means you will need to die a whole lot to get further into this game. If you plan on beating this game in any reasonable amount of time would require a lot of luck or choosing the easier bosses that require less pattern recognition.
This leads back to my biggest issue with this game, the padding is unreal. You could know the pattern of a boss but if you were unlucky to receive an item that would help you during the boss fight, you will die. I have spent so many hours fighting the bridge boss that I gave up and took on other bosses. I know his patterns, I know how to dodge all of his attacks but there is one attack that you must take damage to dodge. If you don’t know it is the shield attack, if you don’t have a weapon that can slow him down and you are between him and a wall. You will either take a ton of damage or die. I can understand an unfair boss but after fighting him multiple times enough was enough. Unlocking more items meant that I either had to tank enough to survive him or hope that I get an item that will slow him down. Eventually I just upgraded the health pot to tank a hit then heal and repeat until he died.
Beating this game takes a toll since it has massive issues and even more so on the Switch. I have put in 30 hours into this game…
I have seen the ending once. I got lucky and was able to hoard onto a ton of health and got the right items for bosses. If you are having trouble with any boss just grab two sets of traps and a long range weapon and whip. This works wonders for most bosses as the traps hold them in place while you go hard on them. The whip allows you to float in the air as well giving you enough height to avoid attacks from the ground. I haven’t collected all the items since they require you to hoard orbs and that takes up a ton of time.
Items and upgrades can only be obtained in two ways, unlocking them with orbs and collecting blue prints. Blueprints must be taken to the merchant between areas so if you die between an area that blue print is lost and must be found again. Considering the number of items, it will take you a very long time to unlock all of them certainly if you don’t plan on checking every single area you come across. With each play through you will obtain better items but older items will still be in the random pool which creates another problem.
While Dead Cells is a somewhat unique game in its own rights, it is only unique because it tried to mash two genres into one. This would work well if those genres complemented each other, sadly they decided to go with some of the worse parts. It doesn’t help that if the game doesn’t have locked framerate like on Switch, you will die randomly forcing you to restart and have wasted X amount of time. I did enjoy playing this game and still play it from time to time but given the issues on Switch, the lack of a story to drive people to continue playing, and the god awful ending that just sends you back to the start is a slap in the face.
Cocktail: Health Flask
1 oz Honey Wiskey
1 oz Tequila
1 oz Elder Flower Liquor (St. Germain)
Dash of Bitters
4 oz Orange Juice
My Gameplay Footage:
This is my first try at a unique approach to my reviews from advice from @IndieGamerChick. She was the first person to really sit down with me and walk me through some of my issues and flesh out certain areas. So if you enjoyed this review more than my other reviews let me know and make sure to give her a follow! She felt as though she was a bit hard on me but to be honest that is what people need to improve. I don’t want to be a world famous reviewer as I just enjoy sharing my experiences, she saw that and wanted to give a helping hand. I personally think this review felt a bit better since I could feel more of me through the writing. Being honest with myself and the reader also changed as well.
I have been more active on my Instagram page as well which is exclusive to all my cocktails that I produce if you are into drinking like I am… No, I am not an alcoholic but I do drink at least once a week. Funny enough I got a message on Instagram asking if I drink all the drinks I make and no, I don’t. Typically all the drinks are produce during play or before I even start the game on the weekends with friends. I typically have people over every Sat or Sunday and we hang out, play video games, watch movies, and drink. So as a way of supplying free alcohol to my friends I produce themed drinks, take pictures of them, and share them on Instagram daily. The amount of alcohol in each drink is actually doubled as well to save on how much alcohol is given out. My glasses are filled with ice, half the recipe, and more ice is added to give the illusion of a fuller drink. I do own a ton of alcohol but considering I typically put up one drink a day would mean in a year I would go through around. 112 bottles of liquor if I posted a drink a day and they had 3 shots each. 56 is still a lot of bottles in a year which is why I typically only have 1-2 shots in a cocktail bringing it down to a more reasonable 20-30 bottles.
I will be expanding these from now on to hopefully be more interactive with people. I enjoy doing reviews and certainly making themed cocktails as my inspiration for at least that side of me was “Drunken Moogle” but he has fallen off the map in terms of producing drinks. Not sure what happened with that but decided that I wanted to include something unique in my reviews from now on. It takes a lot of money and time but at least I am enjoying every minute doing it. One thing is for sure is I am neither a professional writer or professional bartender. If you guys don’t know already I am actually a Special Needs Teacher with a degree in Music Education…. Yeah, I know, surprising.
Another thing to note is that this weekend I will be working on making Bath Bombs! So if you enjoy seeing some homemade stuff come check out my Instagram. I always try to bring my coworkers something nice a few times a year and decided making some bath bombs would be great way to start the year. The other thing I typically make is Sangria for Winter Break… just don’t tell anyone… as far as upper management knows it is just orange juice in a bottle since it is just for the other teachers. I’m sure they know by now but don’t mind since it is always the last day before break and I tell people to put it in their bags right away.
As always let me know what you thought of this review, if you plan on buying this game or if you have it, follow on Instagram for nerdy cocktails, Twitter for well… actually I typically don’t post much there, and there is always Twitch where I stream new Switch games daily as I work on reviews.
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