Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Dead Cells

My love/hate relationship with Dead Cells and other ‘hard’ games: Part one

come. at. me. bro.
Cursed, but it was worth it for the ice bow!

I think I’m reaching the end of Dead Cells. Not because I hate it. Not because it’s a terrible game. But because I’m hitting the wall, and while I’ve hit walls before, this feels like the wall I cannot overcome without putting in way more hours into the game. Let me explain. I think most people are familiar with the concept of hitting the wall in which you just can’t get around an obstacle in front of you (be it physical or mental). In a video game, it’s usually a boss that you simply can’t beat. In a ‘hard’ game, it can be other things, such as level design, difficult enemies, or just simply dying over and over again for a variety of reasons.

Let’s take Dark Souls for example. And, yes, it’s my go-to when I want to talk about difficult games. It’s notorious for its difficult bosses, and I’m betting that the Bell Gargoyles were the first real gut check for most Souls players. Well, OK. Asylum Demon first. Then the Taurus Demon. But definitely the Bell Gargoyles! Hm. What was my point? Oh, yeah, this! The thing, though, is that many people didn’t even make it to the Bell Gargoyles for a variety of reasons. One of the things about the game is that after you beat the Asylum Demon (if you do), you’re taken to the Firelink Shrine. There are three paths you can take from there, and two of them are ridiculously hard. Now, some Souls fans will tell gush about how brilliant it is because the two paths are so hard, it points you in the right direction. Hard disagree from me. What’s the one thing you hear about Souls if you’re a gamer, even if you have no interest in it? That it’s fucking hard. FUCKING HARD. You just tried to beat a demon to death with your goddamn fists because you didn’t know you were supposed to run from him (so you can get your weapon and fight him properly later, and he’s still no joke in your first playthrough), so being attacked by ghosts you can’t kill* or skellies who can one-shot you doesn’t seem that outre.  Your idea of hard has already been busted, so especially without context (the third path being hard, but not insanely so), it’s easy to think you’re supposed to run through the area with the ghosts or the skellies and just deal with it.

The reason I’m saying this is that there are tons of legit reasons for people quitting Souls. I love the games, and I’ll recommend them ad nauseam, but I also realize they’re not for everyone. I had a friend who reached Firelink Shrine and saw a message in front of the Crestfallen Warrior to attack him, so she did. Which is a BAD idea. If you aggro an NPC in Dark Souls, they will be permanently aggro’ed unless you pay an exorbitant amount of money to get your sins absolved. I know this because I accidentally hit Andre while trying to talk to him (first time I used a controller, and the controls for Souls games are, at best, whimsical), and I had to pay something like fifteen-thousand souls to make him forget (it’s based on your level. 500 souls per level, so the higher level you are, the more you have to pay). I seriously considered starting the game again because Andre is essential, and that much money (souls) seemed exorbitant at the time. Anyway, my friend couldn’t use Firelink Shrine, which is your hub bonfire, because the Crestfallen Warrior was aggro’ed, and that made her quit. I completely understand that, and I do not blame her in the least.  Continue Reading

Dead Cells has its icy claws in me

a breath of respite!
Are we in Anor Londo?

About a year ago, I heard tell of an exciting Souls-like* game in Early Access called Dead Cells.  I watched a few Let’s Plays and Let’s Look Ats, and I was immediately intrigued. However, I am chary of Early Access, and I decided to wait.  Recently, it was on sale, and I was between games, so I snapped it up. I installed it, started it up, and I was hooked. The controls are intuitive (although, funny story. I went back to Dark Souls III to try a pure pyro strategy, well, close to a pure pyro, and I’ve been accidentally hitting NPCs because interact in RB in Dead Cells and A in Dark Souls III (on my Xbox One controller). Fortunately, you can hit NPCs once and not aggro them, but it’s pretty disconcerting), and soon, I was rolling, jabbing, and collecting my souls, er, cells with the best of them.

So, speaking of souls, let’s talk about it being a Souls-like game. I’ve heard that quite a bit about Dead Cells, and I didn’t really see it when I first started playing. The more I played, though, I got the comparison. It’s funny to hear Lets Players talk about souls and Estus Flasks, and I agree it’s better to be deliberate in combat rather than just mashing buttons (though I panic-mash more often than I care to admit). However, I don’t think it’s so much that this game is Souls-like than it is that both are Metroidvanias. Sprawling levels to explore with locked off areas. Getting runes to acquire abilities to unlock said locked-off areas. In this case, permadeath, but with upgrades that you keep between runs.

When I start, I’m just a ball of goo that rolls across the floor until I reach an empty body. I inhabit the body, and then I’m ready to go. I start with a Rusty Sword, and I start wrecking fools. Or rather, they wreck me in the Prisoners’ Cells. There are random pickups on the ground, such as melee weapon (all kinds of swords), ranged weapons (bows, whips, etc.), shields, and skills (traps, grenades, meat grinder, etc.). There are also upgrades and gold balls you hit to break and scatter. There are secrets in the wall that are marked with a faint rune, and you hit them to open them. They usually contain some kind of gem (gold) or food (kebabs and chicken so far), which is a nice pick-me-up.

You can speed run through the area to try to make it to the timed door in the next area, but the time limit is really strict. To make the first timed door, you have to get there in under two minutes. I’ve done it a few times, but that means skipping most of the first area and not getting the upgrades. Behind the timed door is *spoilers* good loot such as one upgrade (strength, tactical, or skill, and each includes a health upgrade), several gems/gold/coins, a bunch of cells–oh! forgot to say that the cells are used for the permanent upgrades at the end of each level–and sometimes a blueprint for a new weapon/shield/skill. I don’t think it’s worth it, though, because you have to take the blueprint and cells to the end of the level in order to cash in on them, and I feel severely under-leveled if I don’t clear out the first area before proceeding. I’ve never made it to the other timed doors, and I don’t really care.

Let’s talk upgrading. After each level, you can talk to the Collector who’ll use your cells to make whatever you want (and if you have blueprints for it). When you first start the game, you don’t have any ability to heal. You can buy the Estus Flask from the collector for fairly cheap, and you get one gulp. Each upgrade is successively more expensive, and I’m up to three swigs. You have to spend all your souls–cells!–before moving onto the mutation guy, though I just found out that you can break that door down to save your cells. There’s a reason for doing this, which I’ll get to in a minute.

The adorable mutation guy lets you choose one mutation after each level. This can be as simple as more health, or as specific as an X amount of increase in damage for Y amount of seconds after killing an enemy. You can unlock more of these by spending your cells with the Collector. My favorite is Ygdar Orus Li Ox, which brings you back from death once, but you can only pick it up after the first level.  I guess it’s so you won’t choose it right before a boss fight, but so what if you do? It’s irritating that I have to carry it all the way through all the levels if I want it to actually help me during a boss fight.

Continue Reading

In sickness and health

I’m slowly getting better, but I’m fighting off an extraneous sickness. My ears aren’t as crusted over as they were before, but they’re still not clear, either. I’ve been sleeping a ton, which is never a good sign. I did go to taiji on Monday, and while I took it easy, I was pretty tired by the time I got home. It’s snowing, by the way. It started yesterday (Monday) while I was in class, and it’s still going. It’s not much snow, maybe two to four inches, but it’s making me happy.

I need to start cooking. I hate that, but it’s true. I’m starting to have more sensitivities past dairy/gluten, and buying pre-made food just isn’t cutting it any longer. I’ve been playing a shit-ton of a Metroidvania-style game called Dead Cells, and I’ll write a post on it later.

I’m sleeping a ton, which makes me worried that I’m actually getting sicker. I don’t sleep much when I’m healthy, so I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. In the meantime, my motivation to do much of anything, which isn’t high to begin with, and that’s an indication that I’m still not well yet.

Anyway, here’s Northernlion playing Dead Cells.