The rogue-like genre is a packed field these days, but it takes a lot to get the balance right of what makes them enjoyable. Many developers end up with a game that fails to give players the right opportunities to observe, learn, and improve from their mistakes, and instead of challenging, their offerings become frustrating and discouraging. However, indie developer Motion Twin seem to have hit on the right formula, marrying the rhythmic, ‘dancing with the bosses’ style of combat from the Souls games with a Metroidvania style side-scrolling format and roguelike rules to create Dead Cells. Combine that with vibrant, colorful visuals and a kickin’ soundtrack heavy on orchestral and acoustic alike, and you’ve got a fast-paced, arcadey experience that’s great for quick 20 minute sprints, but that will absolutely devour entire days of your life if you’re not careful.
In it, you play the anonymous Prisoner, adventuring your way through dungeons, ramparts, sepulchers and castles to try and escape an island where a mysterious disease called the Malaise runs rampant. Those ruling the island have imprisoned the majority of the island’s mutated inhabitants (whom you’ll have the pleasure of meeting/slaying), retreating within their stronghold to try and escape their grasp.
Everything has gone dark. The Mantis pirates aboard the S.S Madpipes have severely damaged my surveillance equipment. As I am manning the shields, trying to prevent further damage a missile tears through the hull (courtesy of the Mantis starship) almost killing me and leaving the room engulfed in flames. Fruitlessly I try to extinguish it before fleeing towards the Medical Bay remotely opening the blast doors of the Shield Room on the way, allowing the vacuum of space to combat the rapidly growing fire. My pilot girlfriend is already in the Medical Bay patching up her wounds. She is all that is left after my best friend/engineer was kidnapped by slavers. We huddle together staring at the damaged surveillance feed, not knowing exactly where the Mantis intruders are, our only clues being the all familiar hiss of opening doors drawing nearer, and nearer. As the S.S Madpipes continues to take abuse from missiles and blast lasers I take a deep breath, and prepare for our last stand.
This is a true story that occurred during my time with FTL. FTL stands for Faster Than Light, but a more apt acronym would be Forget To Live because that is what you will be doing after one round.