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The greatest roguelike game is better than ever but ending soon

Dead Cells update 35 marks the end of one of the roguelike genre's best games, so now's the time to give it a try if you haven't already.

The development of Dead Cells is coming to a close. The popular roguelike first launched in 2018 and was followed by generous free and paid DLC, skyrocketing Motion Twin and Evil Empire’s hit to the genre’s upper echelons. With a 97% positive rating on Steam from over 125,000 reviews, Dead Cells is undeniably beloved. It’s a titan that stands alongside Hades, Binding of Isaac, and Slay the Spire. So if you haven’t played it yet, you absolutely should.

With Dead Cells update 35 set to be the game’s last, the long journey from early access to the incredible Castlevania crossover DLC is finally coming to an end. While development started at Motion Twin, it was later handed over to the newly formed spinoff studio Evil Empire, with MT working on a new game, Windblown. Now Evil Empire is moving on from Dead Cells too, getting ready for some “new adventures.”

Since then, a former developer called this an “a**hole move” by Motion Twin, before walking back the severity of his comments while opening up in a blog post. There’s a lot of passion for Dead Cells from developers and players alike, and that’s with good reason.

While the news that development is coming to an end saddens me greatly, I’d still argue that now is the perfect time to get into one of the very best roguelike games. You can use two frying pans as nunchucks – need I say more?

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I find myself returning to Dead Cells regularly, unable to shake the grip of its malaise-infested island. Every time I boot the game back up, I’m reminded of how great it feels to control, and I get lost in the sheer breadth of build opportunities and the resetting labyrinthine levels.

Dead Cells uses the roguelike framework and the world structure of  Metroidvania games to great effect while presenting you with a glorious array of weapons, equipment, and progression choices. I think there’s no greater compliment than the fact I regularly go months without playing, only to boot it up to check out the latest update and suddenly lose another 30 hours to it.

If you’re one of the many people won over by Hades back in 2020, Dead Cells offers a similarly satisfying difficulty curve. You get a Boss Cell when you finish one of the game’s many paths, and beating the game again with one enabled nets you another (and so on), with each making the game harder as you go. You’ll get fewer health potions, even harder bosses, and several modifiers that make victory seem more unlikely than ever, but you also get better item drops and entirely new areas to explore too.

Eventually, you’ll be blasting through the first few areas of Dead Cells, dancing around the enemies, getting extra rewards for improved play, and this is where it clicks. You’re suddenly in a groove, and with that comes precision and speed. Making the game harder can cause some bumps in your flow, but the compulsion to get back to full power is simply too strong not to soldier on.

With a Dead Cells animated show in the works, a board game, and the potential for the game’s protagonist “appearing in another world,” now’s the time to give the game a try. Make no mistake, Dead Cells kicks you until you drop, then it digs its heel in your face and dares you to stand up and try again. And you will.