This week, the indie roguelike Dead Cells got its fourth paid DLC, and this time it brought with it a Castlevania-inspired expansion. Having always wanted to try out Dead Cells, I was a bit apprehensive about jumping in and potentially being overwhelmed by all that had come before me. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. The game is designed in a way that makes it easy for newcomers to jump in and have a blast without having to know about the game’s various worlds, weapons, and mysteries.
2D action games are easy to understand and Dead Cells is no different. You’ll explore different rooms, collect weapons, and use your arsenal to fight off enemies. The roguelike elements mean that you’ll frequently stumble upon new and better weapons while running between familiar but randomized locations in each biome.
The expansions, both free and paid, fit into the game’s structure nicely. If you want to try out the Castlevania zone, you can find it just from the starting biome after a few runs. Other expansion biomes are also blended into the game world, making it hard to tell which are part of the base game and which aren’t.
Dead Cells has a huge variety of weapons, which can be daunting. But you don’t have to learn them all at once. You’ll start with a sword, bow, and shield, but you’ll quickly find new weapons during your runs or pick up blueprints for weapons you can unlock later. This way, you’ll be able to build your weapon pool over time instead of trying to learn them all at once.
To add to the fun, the game includes weapons and character skins from other renowned indie titles like Hollow Knight and Hotline Miami. You’ll even find gear through clever nods to the original games, like a giant whale-like monster from Slay the Spire. All these extra weapons and skins mean there’s always something to strive for.
Dead Cells is a tough game, but you can make it easier with the Assist Mode, which lets you reveal the full map, adjust enemy health, and more. Additionally, you can create custom games with specific equipment and parameters.
I’ve been wanting to give Dead Cells a try for years, but was intimidated by the amount of stuff it had added over time. Now, I know that all those additions are just more secrets, exciting locations, and awesome weapons for me to uncover as I attempt run after run. And even without the paid expansions, the free updates since the game’s 2018 launch make it much more approachable.