We use several different versions of the word "Metroidvaina" to describe 2D platformers that have back-tracking adventure elements and tight, easily repeatable combat. There are way more features that make up a Metroidvania, almost as many as their are games in the series from which we take that namesake — Metroid and Castlevania. The genre is timeless, and has become a genre that has defined indie gaming for the past several years. These games can come and go quickly, but ever since it made its Early Access debut back in May 2017, Motion Twin's Dead Cells has kept the hype burning hot.
Just looking at it, it's easy to see why. Drenched in neons and teeming with gothy wonder and mystery, Dead Cells has A E S T H E T I C. The designs of the characters and monsters are evocative and unique, and its all animated in silky smooth fashion. Mechanically, it borrows more from roguelikes than it does straight up Metroid or Castlevania, meaning every run pits you against a bundle of systems more than a map with specific bosses. Progression is non-linear, with each of the overarching zones packing plenty of secrets to unlock and stumble upon. Combat is fast, tough, but fair. Things hurt, and permadeath is real, but in death comes lessons to learn and new things to try and succeed with.
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Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.