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    Dead Cells

    Game » consists of 12 releases. Released May 10, 2017

    Dead Cells is a metroidvania style rogue-lite set in an ever-changing castle.

    Let's talk about progression & roguelike stuff

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    ShalashaskaUK666

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    So I really want to like Dead Cells more, but every time I die, I'm finding the complete lack of carryover really off-putting. Save for gold coins that get you slightly better gear or unlock doors (but for the latter you can acquire just as many scrolls through exploration anyway), losing so many cells over and over (and over) gives me a gut feeling of wasting my time.

    I wouldn't be as perturbed if - like many reviews have mentioned - your starting weapons "changed every time", but I'm a good 20 runs in and still getting bow/shield, incendiary/fire/ice grenades and a few different blades later on. I get that you can invest cells to change the starter weapons, but dying and losing them negates that so... yeah?

    It kinda just feels like I'm starting the same game over and over, with no meaningful changes to that first level. Like yes, I can climb vines and teleport, but the actual meat of the experience is the same.

    Coupled with a complete lack of narrative propulsion, I feel I'm bouncing off something the majority of gamers right now are ADORING.

    Where are you guys on how the progression works, and is it something where you think I'm expecting too much, too fast?

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    Humanity

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    #2  Edited By Humanity

    @shalashaskauk666: I'm having a similar experience and I think it really is up to individual taste. Jason is the type of guy that likes a good grind I think which is why he loves it. Personally I am someone that doesn't enjoy the run-based rogue-like structure but was attracted by the artstyle and smooth gameplay. Unfortunately just like you I feel as if each run is just me starting the game over again. I imagine that when I finally unlock the random melee weapon and then start dumping points into blueprints that each successive run will feel a bit different, but as it stands the first two areas are usually just making my way through the same tile set, with the same weapons, fighting the same enemies. This causes me to get impatient and sometimes die a stupid death, reseting the whole thing and generally making me quit playing for the night.

    If you're some amazing gamer the weapons you get won't be an issue. I'm typically average so the type of drops I get will make or break the game. I'm not sure if it's scripted but on my second ever run through the game, right at the start of the first area they gave me two ultra rare weapons and I proceeded to blaze through the first 6 levels or so until I died to a really cheap key placement around spikes. Good weapons will definitely change the flow of the game in a way that I don't know if I'm that crazy about. It doesn't seem like different weapons offer different playstyles as much as different weapons just generally are better and by extension make the game a whole lot easier.

    I'll keep chipping away at it, but the absolute reset to 0 at death and a largely non-existent narrative drive are cooling me on this game that everyone around is in love with.

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    Rahf

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    #3  Edited By Rahf

    Had the same issue during early access. And hitting a true difficulty spike in one of the later biomes, which had taken me plenty of tries to reach, just bounced me right off of the game.

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    SethMode

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    I mean, every complaint that you have is totally valid for not liking the game, but it's also what I personally love about it. It forces me to get better, and I love that progression, despite it not really being a tangible thing. I hope this doesn't sound like a "git gud" comment because it genuinely isn't intended to, it just rewards better play, and you either like that or you don't. While I understand if someone doesn't, I'm not sure I would label it a design flaw, IMO.

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    Fear_the_Booboo

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    Having basically the same issue and I got bored with the game after finishing the first boss multiple time. I don’t want to do those starting areas anymore.

    I’m someone who like some Roguelikes, but I feel the variety in Dead Cells is not there. The weapons feel different (and don’t take me we wrong, the game feels great) but they’re mostly just slight variation.

    Compare that to Binding of Isaac where the combination of items would create crazy weird synergies; or to Spelunky where you would change how you would approach challenges; or to Slay the Spire where your deck changes everytime. Every roguelike/roguelite is bound to get repetitive but I found Dead Cells to become a grind extremely quick.

    I appreciate that people love it, I’m just really surprised no one in the press seems to have any issues with it.

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    Memu

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    The progression in this game is mostly that you see yourself getting better at it and making it farther. I can tell over time that I am getting hit less and moving through the levels faster and farther. I am not even good at platform type games as I have not played many, but I notice that in recent runs I do not usually take a single hit in the first couple of levels. Yet I have only made it to the final boss twice and had my hat handed both times. This is one of those Zen games. When you see yourself moving away from trouble without thinking about it. When you think "how did I just get out of that mess without a scratch?" Those moments are what has kept me playing, I guess.

    I have been very disappointed with the lore in the game. I tried reading all the stuff I found. I still don't know what it is supposed to be about. Waste of time. It isn't the kind of game you have to finish in one sitting or play exclusively to follow a story. What I am saying is maybe don't jam on it. Play a little in between other games and maybe it will grow on you in time. That is what happened to me with it in early access.

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    militantfreudian

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    #7  Edited By militantfreudian

    Par for the course for this type of games, Dead Cells is demanding – it kind of has to be. Your experience actually mirrors mine albeit only for the first couple of hours. Before too long, I managed to unlock better weapons, and more importantly, health flask upgrades, which greatly increased the duration of my runs.

    I realize it might be frustrating to hear, but the areas past the starting two are more interesting, so if you decide to stick with the game, I would prioritize unlocking the random starting weapons and upgrading the health flask.

    What I find compelling about the game, apart from the combat, is the decisions you make during any given run. You're constantly evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your build, in relation to the areas you want to go to. I also like that the game is not "balanced," which leads to wildly different experiences from one run to another.

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    ghost_cat

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    #8  Edited By ghost_cat

    It definitely helps to simply become better at combat and dodging, but there are a few things that I've learned that have improved my progression experience a great deal:

    1) Pay close attention to your weapons' unique traits and bonuses. If you combine the right weapons with the right stats (even low-level ones), you can have a character who can easily steamroll through enemies without much skill.

    2) Save your coins for modifying weapons. I personally like at least one of my weapons to heal with each strike and go in on poison and fire, that way I can either stack damage or drain from a distance.

    3) In later levels, you start to encounter big aggressive dudes who hit hard and are difficult to stun. So I rely more on traps and use elevation or distance to my advantage to get rid of them without taking damage.

    Hope this helps!

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    flynnneary

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    @shalashaskauk666:
    Yeah I can totally see where you are coming from. I found myself starting to get tired of the initial starting weapons early on, so I incentived myself to both change my weapons immediately when a new one showed up and invest in the random starter weapons as early as possible. I wish they actually had those unlocked from the beginning, but I can understand why they didn't.
    Again, while I'm enjoying the progression, I "forced" myself to do what I've done. This allowed me to experiment and become more accustomed to other weapons (also helping me not get attached to any type), letting me find more enjoyment from each run and the progression.
    I don't think you're expecting too much, too quick though.

    But just as a side question, are you a fan of run based games/rougelikes in general?

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    haneybd87

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    #10  Edited By haneybd87

    There are plenty of substantive permanent progression changes though. Increasing the number of flask uses, getting random weapons at the beginning, getting the extra gold, and getting access to new mutations all make a big difference. Yes you lose the cells if you die but if you can get through at least the first couple of levels you should be able to get a decent amount there. If you’re just dying on the first level then that’s going to be a problem and you’ll never make any progress. If that’s the case I don’t know what else to say other than hopefully you’ll start to get better at the combat and be able to start banking some of those cells.

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    Justin258

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    I feel pretty much the same way you do.

    I hate "no checkpoints, permadeath" style games. I need some kind of permanent progression. Unlocking some Estus Flasks, getting some blueprints, and "getting better as you go along" is absolutely not "permanent progression". That's just grinding out XP or items or whatever so that you have an easier time every time. That stuff feels like a throwaway band-aid to the major issue I have with the entire fucking idea - that you have to restart every single time.

    I cannot overstate how much I love everything about this game except the idea that I have to restart the whole damn thing every time I die. I love the visual style, I love how smooth it looks, I love how goddamn good it feels to play. But all I really need is a checkpoint after bosses. I don't need them to get rid of the random structure, though a hand-crafted Metroidvania would have appealed to me so much more. I don't need them to get rid of the difficulty - that's a huge part of the appeal. But for this to be everything that it could be to me, I have to have some sort of progression. It's so close to being one of my favorite experiences of 2018, but instead it's just really, really disappointing and off-putting every time I die.

    I wish this fucking roguelike/lite/whatever fad would go die completely and never re-emerge. Flinthook, Rogue Legacy, this, and more are all games I would have bought or played way more of if the threat of permadeath wasn't there all the time. It's not fun. It's disappointing, annoying, and frustrating.

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    haneybd87

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    @justin258: You don’t like a thing so the whole genre should die and go away completely? Why not just say, “this genre just isn’t for me” and move on? Meanwhile lots of us really enjoy these games and hope it sticks around so we get more awesome games like Dead Cells.

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    Justin258

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    @justin258: You don’t like a thing so the whole genre should die and go away completely? Why not just say, “this genre just isn’t for me” and move on? Meanwhile lots of us really enjoy these games and hope it sticks around so we get more awesome games like Dead Cells.

    I think I came across angrier than I meant to in that post, although I'm not sure there's anything in it that I want to take back.

    I don't think that "roguelite" is a genre, really; it's an element that you add to a game. Games like Rogue are a genre, sure. But permadeath and randomness are just elements you add to a game.

    Dead Cells is a game that I actually do like, but I am very, very quickly getting tired of it. This game looks gorgeous. It plays exceptionally well - few games are as pleasurable to simply control as Dead Cells is. It's got a focus on exploration and finding new, distinctive weapons and abilities, all things that I think are really awesome and all things that I'm a fan of. But this one simple mechanic of permadeath kills more and more of my interest every single time I die. I feel like this happens rather often - a game comes along that I think looks awesome and that I'd buy right then and there were it not for permadeath. I'd be happy if so many of the best-looking and -playing 2D games weren't like this, but that's not the case. With Dead Cells specifically, I feel like the game would be be right up my alley if it weren't for the permadeath thing. As I said before, the only thing that really needs to change is that checkpoints need to be added somewhere. I don't think that putting a checkpoint after each boss is too much to ask, really - that keeps the spirit of difficulty, randomness, tension of losing this run, etc., without making you have to go through the entire game again.

    Fortunately - for me at least - this mechanic seems to be disappearing. It's missing from Hollow Knight and Axiom Verge. Bloodstained - as far as I understand - will have good old-fashioned Metroidvania save points. It's not in Shovel Knight, which I loved but I'm not sure if I can count a four year old game as bucking a trend.

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    pompouspizza

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    I have never like a game like this before. Whenever I hear the term rougelike, my eyes just glaze over but for whatever reason, this one has really clicked with me.

    I don’t think it changes my mind of the genre though, generally they’re just not for me.

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    haneybd87

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    @justin258: Whatever you want to call them my point still stands. I don’t see why the games have to go away just because you don’t like them considering so many of us like everything about it including the permadeath. There’s other things if you don’t like this.

    As for Hollow Knight and Axiom verge those games do have checkpoints, or save points to be more technical.

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    Memu

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    @justin258: You can save anywhere you like, at least on the PC version, if that is how you want to play it. Just quit back to the main menu and copy the save in your current slot to another slot.

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    Justin258

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    #18  Edited By Justin258

    @haneybd87 said:

    @justin258: Whatever you want to call them my point still stands. I don’t see why the games have to go away just because you don’t like them considering so many of us like everything about it including the permadeath. There’s other things if you don’t like this.

    As for Hollow Knight and Axiom verge those games do have checkpoints, or save points to be more technical.

    I'll change my previous statement, then - I wish indie and 2D games didn't feel so saturated with this mechanic. I'm just expressing some frustration, here, that a lot of games that I think look awesome have this permadeath element that I really don't like. I would be happy if the mechanic was gone, much like I'd be happy if weapon degradation disappeared entirely. None of this "has" to happen, people will make whatever they want to make/whatever sells.

    For Hollow Knight and Axiom Verge, I was pointing out that there do seem to be more 2D action games coming out that don't have this permadeath mechanic - Hollow Knight and Axiom Verge are two of them. Cuphead is another. Bloodstained will be another, if it actually does come out anytime soon.

    If you like it, cool, more power to you. I'm sure at some point there has been some mechanic that you don't like in games you otherwise would really enjoy, or at least there probably will be in the future.

    @memu said:

    @justin258: You can save anywhere you like, at least on the PC version, if that is how you want to play it. Just quit back to the main menu and copy the save in your current slot to another slot.

    I bought it on Switch. I might buy it again on PC just to do this (and also because the Switch version has occasional performance issues).

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    Memu

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    @justin258: Does Switch not have multiple save slots or not have a copy button? Strange it would be different.

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    Justin258

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    @memu said:

    @justin258: Does Switch not have multiple save slots or not have a copy button? Strange it would be different.

    The game itself has three save slots on Switch. You cannot copy them. Outside of the game, the Switch console's OS only lets you delete saves, not copy them to external media or something.

    I actually thought you meant that I could quit the game and copy the save file to a different folder on PC. If I died, but want to go back to that run, I could just replace the save file.

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    Memu

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    Maybe they know people would copy the save file on PC anyway so they gave a way in-game. You can tell that the guys that made Dead Cells are experienced game players.

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    ischultz876

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    I've been playing pretty much non-stop since release because I mainly play roguelike/lites anyway(over 200 hrs in BoI, EtG & Rogue Legacy, over 50 in Flinthook, Neurovoider, Crypt, GoNNER, Tumbleseed, & Death Road), but tbh, my motivation to keep playing Dead Cells has dropped a lot since beating the regular difficulty. The progression seems heavily focused on ramping you up to the end of normal mode, & once you do, you can either keep grinding cells for item unlocks or move on to the next difficulty. With only one playable character in the game & no rewards for beating it on subsequent playthroughs of the same difficulty, I find myself not even worrying about the final boss once my cells/blueprints are cashed(because beating him has the same outcome as just dying progression-wise). If the only goal other than unlocking more items is to get more boss cells by going up a tier(and probably a few rare blueprints, IDK), I'm probably just going to grind out the rest of the items on normal & wait for more content, because I've unlocked all the runes already.

    Howlongtobeat has this game at 27 hrs for main+extra and 50 for completionist, so it seems to be on the shorter side in terms of roguelikes of the same esteem/calibre. I've already logged 18 hrs on Switch (so about 40 total with like 20 on PC) and I've unlocked what seems like about 60-70% of the items(maybe I've just been playing too much lol). If cells could be used to dump into more permanent upgrades such as health and crit chance(other than the ludicrously expensive forge upgrades)like Rogue Legacy, I think the progression ramp would make a lot more sense, because then you could play through higher difficulties in a similar way to the victory laps in Binding of Isaac. You get progressively more OP, but the enemies scale with you(granted not by nearly enough in BoI, lol). All that being said, I've still enjoyed the shit out of the actual gameplay thus far. It does physically pain me to watch other people play this game, though, because play style can vary so drastically from person to person. Maybe the controls just clicked with me more than usual, because it took me like 100 hours in Enter the Gungeon to reach a proximate skill gap to this game.

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    RubberBabyBuggyBumpers

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    I'm definitely feeling a bit burned at times after dying. I've downloaded some mods through Steam that make getting better weapons more easy. It still sucks to lose everything except gold.

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    ianmarkx

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    @memu: great idea thanks!

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    deactivated-61665c8292280

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    I feel pretty much the same way you do.

    I hate "no checkpoints, permadeath" style games. I need some kind of permanent progression. Unlocking some Estus Flasks, getting some blueprints, and "getting better as you go along" is absolutely not "permanent progression". That's just grinding out XP or items or whatever so that you have an easier time every time. That stuff feels like a throwaway band-aid to the major issue I have with the entire fucking idea - that you have to restart every single time.

    I cannot overstate how much I love everything about this game except the idea that I have to restart the whole damn thing every time I die. I love the visual style, I love how smooth it looks, I love how goddamn good it feels to play. But all I really need is a checkpoint after bosses.

    Totally with you on this. I wish they'd have just broken it off into two modes--a checkpointed "Normal" mode and a "Run" mode, the latter of which I'd be way down to toy with after finishing the game and earning a handful of blueprints. I just want to try my hand at the later stages and later bosses. Without the time to A) grind for cells or B) perfect my craft and get better at the game, it makes the experience a little deflating.

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    Maedhros925

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    Glad to find this thread and know I'm not alone. I got to the Hand of the King with a set up I really liked. Then I died and had to start over playing the same early levels, and the starter gear I rolled was big slow weapons that just aren't much fun. Sure, I could grind for blueprints, and for cells to unlock them, but that's just more items into the hopper, making it less likely I'll get a drop of something I actually want. So it's not that there's no progression in this game, it's worse than that, it's that progression actually makes the game less fun to play.

    Another complaint: after you beat a boss you have the chance to use cells to improve your drops. But because you have to burn all your cells after every stage, you can only spend the cells you just earned from that boss. I'll need to grind bosses dozens of times to start seeing a benefit. If I could save up my cells, not spending any at The Collector, and run the risk/reward of hoping I get to and past the boss on each run, that could be a neat dynamic. Instead, it just feels like a slog.

    I really, really like the way this game plays. It's because of how great the game is everywhere else that I keep starting a new run after each death. But I'd absolutely love for a game that plays this well to be an intentional and crafted experience. I've let go of Dead Cells and jumped into Guacamelee 2, because that game gives me a sense of accomplishment I just wasn't getting.

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    ATastySlurpee

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    @shalashaskauk666: Its funny as I typically DON'T like these style of games (I HATED Rogue Legacy) but I absolutely love this game, helps that I'm playing on Switch. I like that some stuff carries over and some doesn't. I'm about 15-18 runs in and I've faced the Hand once (oddly enough I can't teleport yet, I havent found that upgrade) I assume there is a wall jump or something else as there are parts I cant reach. I've unlocked a ton of blueprints and weapons, but I find that my builds are fairly similar each time anyways

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    Quipido

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    Another complaint: after you beat a boss you have the chance to use cells to improve your drops. But because you have to burn all your cells after every stage, you can only spend the cells you just earned from that boss. I'll need to grind bosses dozens of times to start seeing a benefit. If I could save up my cells, not spending any at The Collector, and run the risk/reward of hoping I get to and past the boss on each run, that could be a neat dynamic. Instead, it just feels like a slog.

    This was mentioned in other places but here it is anyway: You can break down the doors after a non-boss stage to keep your cells, all the way up and after any given boss and cash them at the same time.

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    Maedhros925

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    #30  Edited By Maedhros925

    @quipido said:
    @maedhros925 said:

    Another complaint: after you beat a boss you have the chance to use cells to improve your drops. But because you have to burn all your cells after every stage, you can only spend the cells you just earned from that boss. I'll need to grind bosses dozens of times to start seeing a benefit. If I could save up my cells, not spending any at The Collector, and run the risk/reward of hoping I get to and past the boss on each run, that could be a neat dynamic. Instead, it just feels like a slog.

    This was mentioned in other places but here it is anyway: You can break down the doors after a non-boss stage to keep your cells, all the way up and after any given boss and cash them at the same time.

    Ah, thanks! I kept seeing the message that I needed to spend all my cells before it would open and never thought to try breaking through.

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