Summertime – that wonderful time between major tentpole releases. Summertime is often a chance to try and immerse yourself in your backlog, hunt down trophies or achievements that you’ve been putting off, or forget gaming altogether to spend time in the sun. This summer I found myself spending time away from my consoles, as nothing was really able to draw me in. Enter Dead Cells on Nintendo Switch. If there was ever a game that I needed to refuel my desire to play, this would be it.
You are a prisoner in a hellish nightmare of a jail. As you awaken you’re directed to travel through levels, attain upgrades and blueprints and try to escape this cursed world on a single life. Death resets your progress and you awake back in your cell, focused only on escape.
Described as a Metroidvania, or roguelike experience, Dead Cells is a game loaded with depth but surprisingly easy to pick up and play. During a playthrough, your character is loaded with base weapons and stats. Armed with a sword, and one of either a shield or a bow, your goal is to pass through levels and reaching checkpoints. Death will reset progress, so you must use caution – Dead Cells isn’t a game where charging in head first works out.
Occasionally, enemies will drop orbs known as cells. These cells are used as currency at checkpoints between levels to upgrade permanent stats and abilities or unlock new weapons. It’s an interesting conundrum, as you’ll find later in the game you’re weighing the risks between making it safely to a checkpoint over amassing more cells to upgrade your character’s weapons and abilities.
The controls are fluid, and Dead Cells pleasantly (albeit frustratingly) grows along with the player. As you progress through levels new enemy types throw different challenges your way, and strategies that may have worked in earlier levels are obsolete. The variety in weapon types gives you a lot of opportunities to explore different playstyles – be it long range with bows and grenades, in close with swords and traps or a combination of the two with elemental enhanced weapons and skills are thrown into the mix.
Dead Cells is the perfect game on Nintendo Switch – it’s frustrating, but it’s also a lot of fun and can be enjoyed in quick bursts.
We’re in a second golden age of retro titles, where games pay homage to times of yore, and Dead Cells is no different. Stylized to look like a classic 16-bit era side-scroller, Dead Cells features some truly mesmerizing characters, sprites, and backgrounds. Animations are crisp, and there were a lot of interesting surprises within the game that looks and runs beautifully on the Nintendo Switch.
The accompanying soundtrack helps craft an eerie ambience, and the sound effects harken back to an epoch of gaming that has passed us by.
I loved this game. It’s one that I couldn’t put down, despite the short playthroughs. I highly recommend Dead Cells to anyone who likes side-scrolling games like Castlevania or in more recent days Steamworld Dig.
Graphics & Sound8.5/10
- Loads of fun.
- Great game for Nintendo Switch.
- Short play sessions, great for busy people.
- Excellent art design and soundtrack.
- Frustrating, but in a good way.