Dead Cells Mixes Roguelike Action With Metroidvania Exploration

PGW 2017: Dead Cells Mixes Roguelike Action With Metroidvania Exploration

Out Now on Steam Early Access

There were a lot of excellent games to play at Paris Games Week 2017, from Monster Hunter: World to the new Shadow of the Colossus remake. However, among all the massive booths and AAA titles on display at Paris’ biggest gaming expo, it could be difficult to find many of the smaller scale games that France’s independent studios had to offer. Despite this, Bordeaux-based studio Motion Twin’s Dead Cells stood out to me right away.

Tucked away in a distant corner outside of the main hall, Dead Cells distinguished itself from adjacent booths thanks to some ambient purple and white lighting, a human-sized cage strung decoratively by a massive chain, and a group of game stations set up over some rustic-looking barrels.

Dead Cells Mixes Roguelike Action With Metroidvania Exploration
View of the Dead Cells booth (via Motion Twin’s Twitter account)

Dead Cells is an action-platformer roguelike inspired by games like Metroid, Castlevania, and Dark Souls. The game offers fast-paced, dodge-and-roll combat in a procedurally generated game world filled with secrets to uncover and gear to collect, all set across a variety of unique, pixel-drawn environments. The game is technically already available to players; you can buy the game now on Steam in early access, with Motion Twin promising to “try to double the content” of the currently 16 to 20-hour campaign over a period of “about 8 – 12 months.”

While the idea of selling a game early with the promise to extend its length over subsequent months may sound fishy to many, I had the chance to play the most recent build of the game at Paris Games Week, and came away impressed. For a game that’s currently unfinished, it’s certainly hard to tell as such, given the level of polish on display in the 30 or so minutes I played of Dead Cells’ opening levels. Combat is satisfying thanks to tight, responsive controls, and I encountered nary a bug or glitch as I navigated a Metroid-like 2D map, felling creatures and sword-toting humanoids along the way. As I progressed, I uncovered rare weapons, tools, and accessories, from fire-projecting bows to enemy-ensnaring leg-hold traps. I could then upgrade these items at certain junctions between levels, adding interesting RPG layers on top of what looks to be an already engaging experience.

Following the demo, I had the chance to speak with one of the game’s developers. After commenting on how polished the game looks and plays, I inquired as to why the game was still in early access. The developer simply replied, “[It’s about] content.” The team is looking to add new levels and weapons for players to experience leading up to the final release of the game. With regards to this date, the team is targeting July 2018, which would indicate that they’ll be working up until the very end of (or perhaps a little longer than) their initial 8 to 12-month timeline.

Thankfully, fans won’t have to wait until then to reap the benefits of this additional content, as Motion Twin is constantly providing free updates for the game on Steam. The most recent update, titled “The Brutal Update,” releases tomorrow, November 14, and adds new enemies to fight, weapons to find, and areas to explore. Check out what else to expect from the update by watching the following trailer:

When asked if Motion Twin has anything else in the works besides Dead Cells, the developer told me that they have nothing to announce at this time and assured me that the team is hard at work bringing new content to Dead Cells for its full release. Based on what I’d played of the game at Paris Games Week, players have a lot to look forward to when that day finally comes.


For more on Paris Games Week 2017, check out our video tour of this year’s show floor.

Be sure to check back soon with The Punished Backlog for more exclusive articles on the show!

David Silbert

Author: David Silbert

David is the creator and editor of The Punished Backlog. A recent Penn graduate, David enjoys gaming and writing. Now, he’s combining his passions and doing both at the same time, all from the comfort of his French apartment!

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