Slick is such a brilliant word for describing Dead Cells, Motion Twin’s marvellous roguelite Metroidvania. It immediately gets across that we’re dealing with a clever, fast-paced, and relentlessly satisfying game. But there’s also a wetness to the word that perfectly matches the oozing pixel effects, the bioluminescent lighting, the squish of a heavy broadsword through dungeon-dwelling flesh.
So, quite definitively: Dead Cells is one slick goddamn game.
Unfortunately, I am decidedly not slick. I mean, I might be slightly grungy because I’m still in my dressing gown and haven’t showered yet today. But no, what I mean is that whenever I play Dead Cells, I feel like I’m never living up to the game. If only I could have perfectly timed that dodge, I’d have felt like such a backstabbing badass. If only I’d blocked instead of trying to jump, it would’ve looked so cool to deflect that arrow instead of letting it spear me in the kneecap. If only, if only, if only.
I’m fully aware that this is my failing, not some failing of what is in truth an absolute masterpiece of a game. The truth is that Dead Cells is a very, very challenging and punishing game. As it should be. If you’ve historically never been a fan of punishing roguelites and permadeath then Dead Cells probably won’t be the exception to that rule. It’s more that I always feel like there’s some untapped potential in me that the game is trying to gently coax out of me with each new run.
So far, that potential hasn’t reared its head. I’m still shit. But maybe this run will be different.