GAME OF THE DAY
Explore. Die. Repeat.
Enjoy supreme action in the dazzling Dead Cells.
Kill. Die. Learn. Repeat.
Motion Twin’s critically-acclaimed dungeon-crawler makes its App Store debut and it’s easy to see why so many have already fallen head-over-heels for it.
Dead Cells has style and substance to spare, combining gorgeous, flowing action with an exhilarating challenge and fantastic replay value.
The title relates to your playable character: a slimy parasite that starts the game by slurping towards the body of a fallen warrior, bringing them back to life.
And what life! You might be nothing more than a mass of green goop, but the fighter you inhabit feels silky smooth under your thumbs, thanks to the wonderfully sharp, responsive controls.
A virtual stick on the left side of the screen handles movement, while several buttons sit on the right, letting you roll beneath arrows or through narrow gaps, jump (and double jump), throw grenades, activate traps and use your primary and secondary weapon.
These buttons are small but well-spaced so there’s no chance of accidentally hitting the wrong one. Even so, you can edit their position and size to suit your personal preferences. And if you’re on iOS 13, you can play with compatible MFi controllers, the PlayStation DualShock 4 and the Xbox Wireless pad.
There’s also a brand-new auto-attack mode, which swings your melee weapon for you whenever an enemy comes within range – a great way to get used to the game’s fast-paced combat.
As you explore its deadly, complex labyrinths, you’ll find plenty of loot alongside the numerous enemies and hazards. The weapons you find come in three colour-coded varieties, with scrolls letting you boost their damage while increasing your health.
At times you’re spoilt for choice, though it’s always worth experimenting with new weapons to discover fresh techniques and combinations, from freeze grenades to three-way arrows, throwing knives to shields that can block and parry attacks.
Dead Cells constantly finds ways to keep you on your toes. Its levels are procedurally generated, which means they’re different every time. And it mixes things up with enemies, too, ensuring you can’t get complacent. Elite opponents will unexpectedly show up among the standard grunts – they move faster and hit harder, forcing you onto the back foot.
Eventually you’ll fall, and have to start your journey again. But there are ways to give yourself a head start on future attempts. Between areas you can trade the cells you’ve earned for special items: your healing flask, for example, can be upgraded so you can take more swigs when you’re at death’s door.
Here, you can also pass on any weapon blueprints you’ve found, unlocking them for purchase. With a perk that lets you hold onto a certain amount of cash – otherwise lost when you die – you can quickly get your hands on something tasty to whizz through those early stages.
Meanwhile, defeating special enemies unlocks rune powers, which are permanent. One causes vines to grow from patches of green goop, while another lets you teleport between sarcophagi, and a third lets you leap between walls to scale new heights.
There’s something here for every kind of player – the perfect example being the special doors that can only be opened by meeting certain targets. Some you’ll need to reach within a strict time limit, giving you something to aim for when you’re powerful enough to blitz those early stages. Others ask you to kill a given number of enemies without taking damage – ideal for more cautious types.
Either way, you’ll feel yourself making rewarding progress on every run. And just as that mass of Dead Cells steadily evolves into a mighty warrior, so too will your appreciation grow for this intoxicating action masterpiece.