Dead Cells is a “soulslike” but also a “roguevania” (sorry)

The upcoming slash-and-splore Dead Cells [official site] has been dubbed a “roguevania” by its creators, which is either a creative and welcome blending of genres or an obscene new marketing word that we should refuse to acknowledge lest it catch on. I haven’t decided which yet because it’s still the morning for me and I haven’t even had my daily egg. The good news is: it has a release date and looks nifty enough for a quick post, which you can see in the trailer below. You are an immortal flock of manipulative cells in control of a lifeless yet servile human body. AND IN THE GAME HAHAHAHA KILL ME

Thank you for allowing me my low-hanging joke. Here is some more information about the videogame.

  • There is permadeath
  • But there are also permaupgrades
  • There are hidden areas
  • There is “souls-like” combat (“invincibility frames when rolling, pattern-based bosses and monsters, and of course, punishing difficulty”)
  • There are more than 10 levels
  • There is a castle
  • It is out on May 10

I’ve been very thorough with this, but if you want more information you can glean some brief impressions from Kate, who tried it at Indiecade. She died a lot. She also said that the procedural level generation is akin to Rogue Legacy. There are no checkpoints here and when you die you might receive new goodies and abilities but that level you were playing is gone. I’m not sure that’s the hook for me. What I adored about (most of) the Souls series was its very deliberate level design, worlds that felt like they were made by a gang of mad cartographers. But if the combat and challenge was the thing that brought you to the smashed and burning table, then keep your eye on this one.

16 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    Pixel art, platformer, Souls-inspired, roguelike, metroidvania, permadeath.

    If only it had icon hunting, I could fill out my PC GAMING IN 2017 bingo card.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I dunno, I don’t think you’d have “platformer” on the 2017 bingo card. Seems like the indie platformer trend has calmed down a lot in the past few years, thank god.

    • MotionTwin says:

      Thanks for the suggestion! We’re definitely adding an “icon hunting” feature on the schedule.

  2. NailBombed says:

    This looks well good IMO – all of the above appeals to me. It also looks like the Castlevania we never got on PC. AND IT HAS A WHIP WEAPON AW HELL YEAH.

  3. Kryzn says:

    I have played it at the weekender and now a bit of the beta. It is really, really fun. It feels really good (great sound-design, animations) and while it is a bit difficult, the unlock mechanic does give you a sense of progress across runs.

  4. The Algerian says:

    Honestly, “Lord of the Fallen”, “Salt & Sanctuary”, hell even “Dark Souls 2” showed me it’s easy to call yourself Souls-like, it’s much harder to actually fill those shoes.

  5. Viral Frog says:

    Souls-like is the new roguelike. It’s becoming ambiguous with almost no meaning other than what the reader perceives the meaning to be. I continue to see people refer to things as being Souls-like when they share absolutely nothing in common with Dark Souls other than being a bit difficult. By some folks’ definitions, all games from the 80s and 90s should be referred to as Souls-like because they’re far above what is now considered average difficulty.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      This aligns with my argument that you could shoehorn the majority of old arcade games into the squishier definitions of roguelike.

      “pattern-based bosses and monsters”

      Mega Man is the new Souls-like from Capcom! You know how many games’ enemies follow patterns? ALL OF THEM. Almost.

      • Xzi says:

        The Megaman games almost do fit into roguelike status IMO, their difficulty was brutal and there were very few checkpoints. I enjoyed the Megaman X games more, but even 20XX is easier than the early Megaman games, and it actually is a roguelike.

    • Kryzn says:

      Well, the souls-like title has been thrown around a lot, but this game really does feel a lot like dark souls. The tension between exploring further or finishing the level to maintain your souls, I mean cells. The different weapons with very different move-sets. Even the “mood” and incidental storytelling (though random level generation means of course it is less authored than Dark Souls levels are).

      To quote a friend who is also playing the beta, It is as if Dark Souls and Spelunky had a baby and then Diablo covered it in glitter.

  6. baozi says:

    When I think of Dark Souls mechanics, I think of this interconnected combination of mechanics:

    – You gain xp (souls, or whatever) by killing enemies to upgrade your character and your equipment
    – When you die, you lose all of your accumulated xp (souls, or whatever) but nothing else
    – No reloading, no perma-death
    – Enemies reset when you respawn
    – High stakes combat

    Other mechanics, not so much.

    • golem09 says:

      What I personally think of first when I think about Souls is… weapons. Not just weapons with different stats, tons of weapons with wildly different attack animations and playstyles.
      No other game has this as far as I know, and it’s my favorite feature of DS.

  7. April March says:

    Call it a roguevania if you’d like, but then you’d have to retroactively apply it to a bunch of previous roguelike platformers. Is Rogue Legacy a roguevania?

  8. Premium User Badge

    DantronLesotho says:

    Really curious about this one. I love everything I see here and I hope that the environments are varied enough that it doesn’t feel stale. I also really like the weapon diversity as well; I think that kind of thing helps keep combat fresh. I hope this does well!