Dead cells is a Rogue-lite / MetriodVania game that combines excellent atmosphere with solid level design and combat focus, and does so with more polish in its early access inception, than many others do on their final product
The game mostly kept surprising me in good design decisions overall – From the first time i came across the vendor that provided the permanent progression through item and power-up unlocks to the 20th or so run where I discovered that there were parts of the game that locked of if you were to slow to reach them and the treasure they hold.
So lets break down the components.
the rogue-lite permadeath re-run is mostly combined with excellent combat pacing and world design, with partial procedural generation (the level is combined form several pre-build chunks) providing just enough unique flavor to stay fresh, and none of the annoyances that traditional procedural generation offers. With plenty of secret passages, locations, items and even secret challenges available to look out for.
Enemies are varied and challenging with the occasional super-powered elite taking the stage, with plenty of unique abilities and well built combat interaction.
The usual annoyances of course with unlucky runs due to missing item drops and the like aren’t gone, so take the excellence with the annoying where the devs have taken steps to alliviate this issue with random special drops around the world and even teleporters when you run into a dead end in a level.
Further, the graphics department here really did a number on the game, providing a basis in pixel art and elevating it to a wholly “Dead Cells” style that is colorful, clean and detailed with surprising amounts of fluidity and effectiveness in displaying terrain, animations, items and effects. Never a moment where you are unsure if an object can be interacted with or if it needs a magnifying glass to be deciphered.
Lastly, the non linear nature of the game allows you to traverse various levels in your preferred order and to change it up to keep your runs fresh even longer.
I normally always note to “give a while” for all my early access and in development critique, but this is the first game in a long time where I can wholeheartedly recommend diving into it. Just be careful not to burn out on it before full release, as according to the developers, its currently about 50% content complete, and It’s already excellent.