This review is a bit different. It’s not a review, but it should be. However, for the second time this year, I have failed an assignment. The first time was for the game Brigandine: Legends of Runesia, which I only took because it came through over Christmas and everybody was having a well-deserved break. I couldn’t get my head around the game and I couldn’t get invested in the story, so I gave it up as a bad job and went back to my, er, not-so-well-deserved break.
Now, for the second time in 3 months, I’m failing a review job. But it’s not for the lack of trying, I promise you that.
Dead Cells has a new DLC and it’s called Fatal Falls. When the call came in for us to review it, the guy who did the original Dead Cells review, Stuart, was already busy with other assignments. Nobody else wanted it, so I put my hand up and took it on without realising what it entailed. I thought, “oh, it’s some DLC for a game, sweet. That’ll be easy. I’ll blast through the main game and then play the DLC, no problem”.
Before this, I had never played Dead Cells before. I booted the game up and played the opening. I died within a few minutes. I was frustrated but determined. I tried again, and this time I survived a few minutes longer. Go me…
There was no menu to access the DLC, and after some Google-Fu, I found that to reach the DLC, I was going to have to beat some of the game, carving a path through the murderous levels. See, Dead Cells is a rogue-like, which means when you die, you start again from the beginning, and you hope to do a little better each time with some upgrades that you buy during each run. You collect “cells” which are a form of currency, as well as actual gold, which is a more familiar currency. Gold will buy you weapons and other items that are useful in the moment, but once you kick the bucket, you’re losing it all.
Cells are used to buy passive upgrades that stay with you even after death. But the kicker is, these upgrades take a long bloody time to get. Each level I’d maybe get around 20 to 30 cells that I could spend. Some of the best upgrades cost hundreds of cells. So, yeah, you just try to do a little better each time. And try I bloody have. But now, I’ve reached a point where I have to accept my limits, put the controller down, and concede defeat. I just can’t do it.
I’ve done the opening at least a couple dozen times. I’ve made it to the Toxic Sewers, the Promenade, and the Ramparts, but I just can not get past the boss fight – The Concierge – in the Black Bridge level. I’ve only managed to reach this monster on a handful of occasions, and each time I’ve been left swearing my head off, promising to find the fuckers who made this game and make them pay for the suffering they’ve inflicted on me. Then I calm down, remember it’s just a game, and try again.
I’m done trying. I’m admitting that I am shit at this game. And that really annoys me because I really like Dead Cells. It’s old-school but feels really modern. It’s fast, tactical, and at times, really satisfying when you’ve got the right combination of weapons, easy-to-kill bad guys, the right room temperature, no noise from the neighbours, the moon aligns with Saturn…
I may keep trying, but as a reviewer and writer, I’ve only so many hours to play. I have deadlines for each task, and time must be budgeted accordingly. I’m hoping that with the ridiculous amount of snow outside my window, I’ll get the chance to break my leg and take a few weeks off to really hammer down on Dead Cells and its DLC. But that’s not likely, because it’s -10c outside, and I’m not going out there. So, if you’ve played and enjoyed Dead Cells, you will enjoy the DLC, probably. If it’s anything like the rest of the game, it’ll be challenging, annoying, lovely, depressing, and fun in its own twisted way. Probably.
I wouldn’t bloody know…