Deadcells Hands-On Preview
hen you walk around a convention you quickly learn to filter out the titles you either have no interest in or that you just know are going to be “another one of those”. Your time can be precious with so much to see and so little time to spare.
So with that in mind I was apprehensive when I sat down at Deadcells. A roguelike, with Metroidvania stamped all over it and the randomised levels of Rogue Legacy…. it started to look like a mash of all things “in” from the last few years.
Thankfully Deadcells manages to make things interesting right out of the blocks. You find yourself as this hideously squishy blob just slopping about the level. From here you drop down and take control of a freshly decapitated corpse. As your blobbiness reanimates the recently deceased you find yourself controlling a knight type character with little more than basic weapons and armour.
From here you set out into the castle to explore. As you push your way through the areas you will find locked chests and doors. These can be opened but you must have gold (for the chests) or certain keys for the doors. Naturally you often don’t have easy access to the keys so must track back through areas to unlock doors once you locate the needed keys. Throughout your quest you will find secret passages and talk to many NPC characters as you slowly try and piece together the story of why you’re this blob of goop. It’s all about exploring as far as you can with the resources at hand then starting all over again in the hopes you can push forward that little bit more each time. The game also incorporates some interesting looking boss battles in to the mix as well.
As you fell foes in the castle you will collect different energy spheres. These are then used at the start of each run through the castle (after your inevitable death) to unlock new items and weapons for discovery. Once unlocked these items remain a potential pick up from then on.
With each run through the castle offering a potentially unique experience longevity shouldn’t be an issue. I did find that the controls were a little stuttery at times. For instance jumping and pressing the action button would cause the arc of the players jump to cease and then they’d execute the strike animation and fall to the ground. It makes the flow of the platforming and combat feel a little stilted at times.
Deadcells looks like one to watch for fans of this genre. If you enjoyed Rogue Legacy or Spelunky then this could very much be for you. The balancing of exploration and the retreading of areas that come with a Metroidvania could be tricky to balance against the relentless perma-death tension that comes with a roguelike title. It’ll be interesting to see how French developer MotionTwin balances these as the game approaches release.