DEAD Cells

One of the very best in­die games of the year just landed on PS4 and it’s so chal­leng­ing that it’ll have you launch­ing your con­troller across the room within the hour. It’s to­tally worth it.

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There’ some­thing ut­terly en­tic­ing to the sim­plic­ity of Dead Cells’ core con­cept, to the com­plex­ity that is buried be­neath it all. On the sur­face, it looks en­tirely retro-grade, a side-scrolling rogue­like with a fa­mil­iar pixel art vis­ual style, its com­plex lev­els crafted from the same cloth as Castl­e­va­nia: Sym­phony Of The Night. Though the truth is that there is so much more to this game than its in­flu­ences alone; Dead Cells is one of the best in­de­pen­dent re­leases of the year, with its ex­pertly honed con­trols and wildly en­gag­ing com­bat loop en­sur­ing that we haven’t been able to com­fort­ably put this one down for weeks.

The ba­sic idea be­hind Dead Cells is that must col­lect cells to keep your de­com­pos­ing body an­i­mated, with death es­sen­tially rip­ping you of all of your pro­gres­sion and drop­ping you off back at the be­gin­ning of the game – so far, so rogue­like. But it’s as you weave fur­ther and fur­ther in through pro­gres­sively pun­ish­ing (and ever-shift­ing, thanks to the pro­ce­dural-gen­er­a­tion) stages that the magic be­gins to re­veal it­self. As you gain new items, weapons and skills your de­sire to stay alive – to push just a lit­tle fur­ther for­ward through the ad­ven­ture – will leave you on the edge of your seat, treat­ing each and ev­ery en­counter as if it might be your last. Dead Cells is pun­ish­ing, but it re­wards you for your per­se­ver­ance; it’s the type of game that will de­mand your at­ten­tion and, well, you should whole­heart­edly sac­ri­fice all of it with­out hes­i­ta­tion.

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