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dbarry_22's Video Game Reviews (218)

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Dead Cells 4.5/5
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 4/5
Bloodstained: Ritual of... 4.5/5
Bloodstained: Ritual of... 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Blaster Master Zero II 3.5/5
The Legend of Zelda: Li... 5/5
The Legend of Zelda: Li... 5/5
Golf Story 4/5
Tetris 99 3.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 4/5
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes... 4.5/5
Mega Man 11 4/5
Octopath Traveler 4.5/5
The Legend of Zelda: Sp... 3.5/5
Bloodstained: Curse of ... 4/5
Everybody's Golf 3.5/5
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 4.5/5
Super Mario Galaxy 2 4.5/5
Castlevania: Portrait o... 4/5
Final Fantasy X / X-2 H... 4.5/5
Final Fantasy X / X-2 H... 4.5/5
Kirby's Dream Course 3.5/5
SteamWorld Dig 4/5
Super Mario Odyssey 5/5

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Dead Cells   Nintendo Switch 

Rogue-Like Done Right    4.5/5 stars

Dead Cells is a rogue-like game that is done right and well and provides excellent game play and replayability.

The simplest way to describe Dead Cells is simply that it's a metroidvania that has rogue-like elements that uses retro graphics. But, there's so much to this game than that. All of those elements are woven together so well that the game keeps you coming back for more long after you've first beaten the final boss.

When you start the game it immediately throws you into the action. You get tossed into a level with a few base weapons from which to choose. Those are a sword, a bow, and a shield. You can equip two of them, and then you head into the action. You have a health bar that starts with 100 HP and you head off into the unknown. As you progress through the game, you can obtain gold by defeating enemies and finding treasure as well. When it comes to upgrading your character, you don't get experience by defeating enemies. Instead, in a few places in every level you find upgrades. Upgrades will always consist of a choice. These choices are brutality, tactics, and survival. Basically, one upgrades your melee damage, another your ranged damage, and another your defense. But, the more you play the game the more and more strategy gets put into choosing these upgrades. I will get more into that later. Also, you can equip 2 skills. These can include grenades, traps, or certain power ups. You will find these scattered throughout the levels.

When you kill enemies you will also accumulate dead cells. These are used between levels to unlock upgrades and new weapons and skills. As you play the game you will also obtain blueprints which will open up additions items to unlock with dead cells as well. You will have endless choices of what to unlock and you'll find yourself wanting to play more and more so you can try out these weapons as it can have a significant impact on how you play the game.

Levels are laid out in a very traditional way. It's a 2D platformer where you can explore in every direction and a map is drawn in the corner that you can reference as you go. This is also where the rogue-like elements come into play. Levels are basically laid out the same way every time, but it gets randomized each time. The more and more times you play a level you'll start to notice patterns that repeat but basically you won't know which to go each time and you'll never know exactly where enemies you be. I think this a great way to incorporate rogue-like elements. The game does a good job of never creating a stupid layout which I've had issues with other rogue-like games.

Death is this game is, well, rather permanent. When you die, you have to start over. There are no save points along the way. It's as simple as that. I'll be frank with you, sometimes that you frustrate you. You'll think you have a good run going and then you get stuck in a bad situation and you'll be dead in seconds and it will get to you. But, that really adds to the action. Every decision you make get amplified. Do you explore the rest of the level to find other upgrades or a new weapon or do you go through the exit you just found? Is it worth the health I might lose if I do that? I have a boss fight coming up, am I set up well for it? Save points would have lessened the experience.

I know what you're asking. Well if it's the same thing every time what's the point of playing it over and over? Well, it's not quite that simple. First off, any weapons or skills you unlocked with dead cells get opened up for your next run and get put into the rotation of what you find. Second, there are permanent upgrades that you can unlock too. For example, you can unlock upgrades that give you more health potions in your run making it easier to get farther. Also, there's a an upgrade that lets you take gold with you into your next run so you can purchase items quicker. Third, there are also permanent upgrades that give you abilities to traverse levels and find new paths. This includes activating vines you can climb, smashing through floors and climbing walls, When you obtain these, you will find access to new levels that you couldn't access before. This will give you choices as to which route and levels you want to go through as you do a run. This makes the game far less stale and repetitive.

What's best about this game is the game play. It is done just so well. Attacking enemies, rolling around dodging their attacks and strategizing your next move is so fluid and comfortable. It rarely feels like you're fighting the controls. The more and more you play the more you realize it's as important to not get hit as it is to kill enemies. Heck, you will eventually be finding yourself in situations where you decide not to engage an enemy and find a different way.

The art is simple retro graphics but it's done well. The music is solid. The environment is interesting. Levels have different layouts and color palettes which makes the game more diverse. It's really well made from top to bottom.

There are a couple minor complaints that prevents this from me giving it a perfect score. There's enough story in this game that you want to know the answers. Who really is this character your controlling? What really happened to this place? You get a few answers. Some sort of plague took out this place, that's for sure. There are some more details you can learn along the way but it's really open to interpretation. I was hoping for some better answers. Also, if you want to fight the secret boss that gives you a bit more closure you will need to beat the game on it's hardest difficulty. Let me tell you this as someone who's done it, that is extremely hard and most players won't do it. In order to accomplish this the game requires you to do a fair amount of grinding and it general I'm opposed to playing a game just to accumulate and unlock things. It can get tiresome.

I will say this though. This game basically pushes you as far as you want to go. If you just want to beat the final boss on the base setting you can do it in probably 10-15 hours. If you want to tackle the other levels and beat the couple other bosses that are in the game you can double that. If you want to beat it on the hardest difficulty you will get at least 60 hours into it. And, it's not the end of the world to bow out at any point in between.

If you're a fan of metroidvanias and a bit of challenge this game is a must for you. Not only that, but it's price is at an Indy-game level at $25 or less if you can find it on sale. I highly recommend it.

4.5/5

 

 


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