TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Dead Cells’

The idea behind the TouchArcade Game of the Week is that every Friday afternoon we post the one game that came out this week that we think is worth giving a special nod to. Now, before anyone goes over-thinking this, it doesn’t necessarily mean our Game of the Week pick is the highest scoring game in a review, the game with the best graphics, or really any other quantifiable “best" thing. Instead, it’s more just us picking out the single game out of the week’s releases that we think is the most noteworthy, surprising, interesting, or really any other hard to describe quality that makes it worth having if you were just going to pick up one.

These picks might be controversial, and that’s OK. If you disagree with what we’ve chosen, let’s try to use the comments of these articles to have conversations about what game is your game of the week and why.

Without further ado…

 

Dead Cells

It’s been an embarrassment of riches in terms of hit indie games making their way to iOS recently. Battle Chasers: Nightwar, Rogue Legacy, Hyper Light Drifter, GRIS… the list just sort of goes on and on. Perhaps one of the biggest names set to make its mark on iOS was Motion Twin’s acclaimed roguelike Dead Cells ($7.99), which had become a major favorite over the past year following its launch on consoles and PC. In fact a Dead Cells mobile port had been rumored and even partially leaked at various points since that initial launch, with many folks exclaiming that there’s no possible way such a demanding game could ever work on the touchscreen. Well this week Dead Cells finally did arrive on iOS, so were those concerns warranted?

That’s a tough question to answer. One thing I can say for sure is that I think everyone would agree that Dead Cells plays WAY better on the touchscreen than anyone ever imagined that it could. The talented folks at Playdigious, who have a fantastic track record of bringing games to mobile that people never thought could work on the platform, were tasked with making Dead Cells enjoyable to play with virtual controls. And they put a lot of thought into it. The end result is a game that 90% of the time plays just fine on the touchscreen, and paired with a physical controller, plays just as well as on other platforms. It’s really a remarkable achievement in my opinion.

That other 10% of the time will be subjective. You’ll very likely encounter moments where you take damage or even outright die because you fumbled with the virtual controls. The nature of Dead Cells makes this not such a big deal, as it’s a game designed for you to die over and over and over again as you slowly unlock new items and gain new abilities and make it JUST a bit further each time you play. Yeah, if you have a killer run going and are loaded up with all sorts of awesome weapons and abilities, and then that run comes to an abrupt end because the controls failed you, that can be frustrating. But those moments seem surprisingly few and far between. More often I find myself dying because I’m an idiot and made a poor decision, not because the touchscreen controls failed me.

There’s also plenty of options to tailor those controls to your specific tastes. Change the size and position of any virtual button to your liking, or choose a floating or fixed virtual analog stick. There’s also an option to have your character automatically perform melee attacks when up close to an enemy, and an option to map dodge rolls to a swipe gesture rather than a separate virtual button. I feel like even the pickiest players will be able to find some combination of control options that will suit their needs just fine. I feel a little silly spending so much time talking about controls when Dead Cells itself is one of the best video games I’ve played in my entire life. It’s a masterpiece. But these things matter, and we go into quite a bit of detail about the controls and the actual game in our review of Dead Cells from earlier this week.

While it’s maybe not the most ideal way to play the game, the virtual controls get the job done admirably here, and the fact I can pull my phone out of my pocket and fire up Dead Cells at a moment’s notice means this is the version I choose to play the most. The nature of the game also lends itself super well to mobile, as you can pop in and play for a few minutes or for hours at a time. If virtual buttons aren’t your thing then you may want to proceed with caution regarding the iOS version (hey, that’s why refunds exist), but if you’re generally fine with them you absolutely must own a copy of Dead Cells, as being able to carry it around in your pocket wherever you go is a massive bonus.



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