Monday, August 20, 2018

I am the anti-hype man

I hate Dead Cells.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been here for more than a few days or who has taken the time out to listen to the podcast (and if you haven't, you should, Chance has a damn sexy voice and Alex knows more about movies and voice actors than is healthy. And I am there too. Sometimes.) My personal vendetta against From Software and the contemptible miasma of 'Souls-likes' is as honest as it is hopeless.

Dead Cells hurts a little more because, with just a few tweaks, I could have loved this game. I will put this out there as plain as I can: Dead Cells is not as good as Rogue Legacy. The few concessions that Rogue Legacy made, and they were slight, took it from an exercise in frustration to a fun few days.

First, when a boss has been defeated it should stay dead. Rogue Legacy was divided up into four sections and when a section was completed it need not be revisited. This kept each 'run' shorter, wasting much less time. Dead Cells covers quite a bit more ground, which is fine, but resetting everything, including bosses, means a run can be twenty or thirty minutes instead of five or ten.

Second, and even more damning, is how items and abilities are handed out. The player's success is more dependant on RNGesus being kind than on skill. On my very first run in Dead Cells I made it to the first boss. The game teased me with weapons good enough to get there but not good enough to actually kill him. The next two runs gave me absolute shit. On the fourth run I was blessed with God's own crossbow and wiped out the boss in under a minute.

It was in no way satisfying because I had nothing to do with the success. Dead Cells is no better than a slot machine.

So how do you fix it? When a zone is complete there is a checkpoint and unlocked weapons are available for purchase from the start of a run, not assigned randomly. Oh, and lower the price of unlocks by about 90%, the cell grind is insane. That's it. Is Dead Cells hard? Yes, but only because it refuses to consistently give the player the tools required to succeed. I could have loved this game. Instead it is added to the growing pile of titles that I will never touch again.

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