Independent studios never have it easy. They don’t have the budget or marketing behind their games as is the case with big AAA titles. Their games are often overlooked by the gaming community just because it’s not as incredible or epic looking with vast open worlds and high-paced over the top action, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make some bloody good games! They deserve some recognition for the love of their labour.
Dead Cells garnered some attention upon its release for all the wrong reasons when a reviewer from a large international publication ripped off the raving review of the game from a lesser known YouTuber. Of course, the plagiarist got what he deserved, but don’t let that detract from the brilliance that is Dead Cells.
The game is a wonderfully designed 2D side-scroller with roguelike as well as Metroidvania elements built into it. You play as the nameless prisoner, who tries to escape from a cursed island full or traps and deadly enemies, but every time you die, you get booted straight back to the beginning of the game. It sounds daunting, but along the way, you open up different routes to the ever-changing levels and levelling up that makes each run a little bit easier. The combat is quick, precise and satisfying, the 8-bit style graphics are gorgeous and the soundtrack is absolutely sublime. It’s also got some great humour to boot.
It is a must play for any 2D side-scrolling platformer fan who likes a challenge and the retro graphics that go with it.
Honourable Mentions: Frostpunk, Into the Breach, Subnautica, The Messenger