What is Dead Cells?
It’s hard to believe that Dead Cells first hit PC and consoles back in 2018, and today (almost four years later) we are still receiving new content, updates and DLC. In total, Dead Cells has received twenty-seven official updates (with twenty-four of them being FREE and the other three as paid DLC).
Dead Cells is a roguelike inspired by Metroidvania-style games. The game features multiple biomes — each filled with enemies to defeat, collectibles to grab, and secrets to uncover. The base game had several biomes and multiple paths to the final boss. With each new update came new enemies, weapons, mutations, abilities, levels and even more.
The game was originally developed by Motion Twin Studios. Later, Evil Empire helped create some of the newer, paid DLC. Evil Empire is a team of 50+ game developers made up of ex-Motion Twin Studios developers and others. It’s great to see these original developers still working on the game they helped create, even from a new home.
Dead Cells is the perfect candidate to receive so many updates. As a repetitive roguelike, I’ve really enjoyed jumping back in to check out what’s new. Every run feels pretty different, even when you take the same route over and over again. Even with the same environment, the procedurally-generated layout of each biome is always different. I’m even still experiencing some of the base game content as brand new to me.
I’ve always felt strange about remapping the controls in games (as I’ve shared before). To me, it felt as if I were spitting in the
face of the developer to say, “No, this button shouldn’t make me roll, this one should.” That being said I did remap the ROLL in
Dead Cells to the RB button (on my Nintendo Switch). With all of the accessibility in games today, I now know it is fine to make a
small change to create a better gaming experience for myself.
Back at it
In all of my previous attempts I had only “beaten” the final boss in Dead Cells one time. Of course, things have changed and now there may be a few different ways to “beat” Dead Cells. There are new places to explore and new enemies and bosses to defeat.
After this past week or two, I’ve reached a total of forty to fifty hours. I was previously at twenty-five hours since the last time I had played. I’ve almost doubled my total hours in the past two weeks. It’s quite easy to quickly rack up hours in Dead Cells, since each run can be anywhere from fifteen minutes to over an hour, depending on your exploration habits and how far you make it before dying.
At first, my goal for returning to Dead Cells was to try out all of the brand new content I had missed or skimmed through in the past. That quickly changed when I realized that in Year Four I still didn’t possess each of the basic runes. I was missing the Ram Rune (which allows you to slam through the ground on certain “glyphed” areas) and the Spider Rune (which allows you to climb walls and reach new heights). Therefore, my first couple of hours back were dedicated to finding these final two runes — with a little help from the internet.
After a few Elite battles in the Ossuary, I finally picked up the Ram Rune. Next, it was time for the Spider Rune. The first rune led to the discovery of new areas. New areas that would hopefully take me to the Spider Rune — and eventually they did.
In most of my Dead Cells runs I attempt to defeat all of the enemies and find every item and area in each biome. This is why the game takes so long to beat. It’s all about grabbing all of the cells in each level to unlock more power ups, weapons, items and abilities.
Here’s a short summary of the four big DLC updates:
Rise of the Giant (Free DLC)
Released March 28, 2019. A free update to say thanks to the fans and supporters of Dead Cells. Rise of the Giant added a new level and boss, along with extra content — 10 new enemies, 13 new weapons/skills and even more upgrades to the core game (new blueprints, secrets and skins).
The Bad Seed (Paid DLC)
Released February 11, 2020. The first of Dead Cells‘s paid updates. The Bad Seed added three new areas to explore — The Arboretum, The Swamp and The Heart of the Swamp. The update also brings new enemies, weapons and a new boss.
Fatal Falls (Paid DLC)
Released on January 26, 2021. Even more new areas were added to Dead Cells with Fatal Falls, including The Fractured Shrines and The Undying Shores. We also received a brand new boss, The Mausoleum. Other than the new areas, enemies and a pet sword, they also added new tools for killing.
The Queen and the Sea (Paid DLC)
Releasing today, January 6, 2022. The Queen and the Sea brings new late-game content, including new areas — Infested Shipwreck and The Lighthouse. Also, another boss was added, The Crown. The update also features new outfits, enemies and some weapons — including a throwable shark, a trident and a pirate hook hand.
Other than these big DLC updates, Dead Cells has received new updates, both big and small, since it’s initial release. Since the beginning we’ve seen the addition of the training room, aspects, extra rooms in biomes, new items, modes, weapons and mutations. My favorite addition has been the Everyone is Here update.
In the Everyone is Here update we were given weapons, skins and skills from some other recent indie titles — Hollow Knight, Blasphemous, Hyper Light Drifter, Guacamelee, Skul and Curse of the Dead Gods. Dead Cells has always been full of silly Easter Eggs and callbacks to some of its gaming influences, so it’s great to see them actually add some official weapons, abilities and other artifacts from these newer indie titles.
I wasn’t sure if you’d get to play as the characters from these games, but as I played I started noticing new weapons and items specific to some of the different games I’ve played and hadn’t played. My all time favorite so far has been Pollo Power from Guacamelee.
Since its initial release Dead Cells has continued to evolve, but it still remains the same game at its core. The main difference today is that there is just a whole lot more to explore in this beautiful world. Jumping back in doesn’t require re-learning how to play the game, it’s pretty straightforward when it comes to the gameplay mechanics.
Back when Dead Cells was released I remember being obsessed with it. Playing it every day for some time. If you beat Dead Cells early on (back in 2018 or 2019) and haven’t gotten the chance to experience any of the new DLC and updates, I would recommend jumping back in and even trying the free updates first. If you get into it then by all means you can purchase the latest paid DLC.
Dead Cells was released on August, 7th 2018. The game was developed by Motion Twin (with help from Evil Empire later on). It has received a total of 27 updates (in the form of 24 FREE and 3 Paid DLC). It’s available on all consoles (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox) and PC/Mac right now with all of it’s updates and DLC.
And now I leave you with a little combat video I edited together from Dead Cells footage for a previous post: