Dead Cells – Dying Is Progress

Dead Cells is a pretty good game, and watch as I rant about it.

Image source: Promotional Image from

Image source: Promotional Image from

By: Grant Le, Journalist

Splat! A gooey glob of goop falls onto the floor of a prison, crawling into a dead body and reviving it from the dead. He finds a soldier that claims that she has met him before, though he has no memory of this. You find out from her that you are now immortal. Yes, your body can die, but you don’t. Having this fulfilling knowledge, you leap out to the world for adventure and rewards… until you die within the next ten seconds. This is how the start of Dead Cells plays out. Stating that, allow me to tell you everything I know about Dead Cells.

Dead Cells is a roguelike/metroidvania game that progressively gets harder the more you advance. Easy concept right? While the concept of the game may be easy, the gameplay AND the plot is not. Once you finish navigating through the randomly generated level terrain and go through to the next level, you find yourself in an in-between place where you can find multiple NPC’s that allow beating up enemies a little bit easier. First, you can find the Collector- a tall, robed, and skinny looking man with a massive syringe bottle on his back- and trade Cells you find along your journey for permanent upgrades and weapon blueprints. You can sometimes earn Cells by a random enemy when killing them, though if you die, you can lose them all. The next two NPC’s are goblin-like merchants, reforging your tools and giving you mutations to become stronger in exchange for gold. Just like Cells, gold can be earned by killing enemies and will be lost upon death.

Going through more and more levels makes the enemies you face have more variety, giving a sense of unpredictability that would unnerve any beginner. If you face a group of enemies, the chance of leaving without getting substantial damage being done to you is slim. Thankfully, at the start of the game, you learn that you have an ability that allows you to roll out of danger, a dodge that allows for you to be untouchable to enemies for the duration of the roll. Using this would allow you to leave alive in sticky situations, and if you’re skilled enough, you can use the roll to a combat advantage.

Now that you know all this, you might want to know how to get good if this game is as hard as I’m describing it. Well, the only way to get good is to- as a matter of fact- get good. There is no item or pay-to-win to progress through without getting absolutely owned. The only way to get better is hours of practice, memorizing attack patterns, recognizing terrain formations, and developing new strategies. It’s certainly not a game for casuals, but it’s perfect for honing your skills in reaction time quick thinking. Considering the new “assist mode” coming out though, things might be a bit easier later on.

The lore of the game is particularly complicated, from a disease called the Malaise infecting people and turning them into monsters, to time reversal, to the Giant, and to the reason why that soldier claims that they know you. I’m not going to say much that would reveal the secrets of Dead Cells, but I do recommend that you either play the game yourself and find out the story, or you go to Youtube and find some other guy explain the lore.

Dead Cells is a game that has a ton of easter eggs from other video games, from a man with a headcrab on his head (from Half Life), to a mysterious Monolith (from Hyper Light Drifter), to even a Hollow Knight reference- a peaceful bench with a cold light shining over. Each of these easter eggs drop items referencing to the game they came from, usually weapons with abilities that correlate to what they do in their game.

Though I left out a big load of gameplay mechanics and DLC material, the game would still be excellent even without these- though the DLC material would help. In short, Dead Cells is a difficult roguelike/metroidvania game with content worth exploring and lives worth losing.