Onto the main meat of this here event. Normally I’d spend this first entry talking about the past 12 months and give the gist of my video game habits, allowing for some small insight into what might be coming in the next ten days. But this time I ended up writing an entire post dedicated to my justification for me not playing as many games this year as I used to. But hey, I still played enough to actually feel bad about the games that didn’t make the list, all three of them.
So, that means you know every game on here is going to be a good one. There’s not going to be any pity entries like a mediocre Halo game this year, oh no. We’re starting off strong and only getting stronger as they days go by. Y’know, how these kind of lists are supposed to work. Without wasting any more time let’s get cracking onto the number ten slot in my top ten favourite video games of 2018.
#10: Dead Cells
Played on Xbox One | Released 7th August | Developed by Motion Twin
Every year, a few indie darlings always manage to squeeze their way onto the bottom half of my list. With the sheer magnitude of indie games coming out over the course of a year, coupled with the incredible talent behind them, it’s only natural that one or two of them would pop onto my hazy radar. Which isn’t to demean them in any way, I just don’t make a habit of trolling steam with a huge fishing net when picking up games.
Dead Cells is one of many, many games to come out this year that fall into the “Metroidvania” subcategory. Of this swell of genre games, Dead Cells stood head and shoulders above the competition for me, adding a Rogue-like element to its approach. The player controls a mass of cells that inhabit a deceased prisoner in the aftermath of some kind of plague. From here, they must work their way to the top of the castle, collecting equipment and stats along the way.
There were two big factors that kept me coming back to this game again and again, no matter how brutally it murdered me. First off, there is a huge selection of weapons, equipment and mutations to unlock as you work your way through over and over. It means that two runs are rarely the same, as you’re finding yourself in a grenade based run one time, before a double bow run the next time round.
With weapons and equipment having randomly generating additional effects too, there is opportunity to synergise equipment to create some real powerful loadouts. Or there’s a chance for it to bite you in the ass, but honestly, that’s half the fun.
Combine all of this with Dead Cell’s absolutely amazing game feel and you get something that becomes very difficult to put down. I can’t remember playing a game with tighter or more responsive controls all year. To begin with, your inputs are basic; attacking with your weapon, jumping and a dodge roll. As you gain traps, grenades and more exotic equipment, more buttons open up on the controller, giving you more to think about.
There is potential for some amazing combo builds from this. Poison traps that increase the effects of fire damage, combined with a fire element bow that does extra damage to enemies in traps is one such example.
All this, together with the game’s faux 16-bit graphics style, makes for a real cool little game that is addictive as all hell. The type of game you keep telling yourself one more run three last runs later. It reminds me a lot of the things I enjoyed about Rogue Legacy and (to a lesser extent) The Binding of Issac. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to this genre of game, and Dead Cells is a hell of a good one.
The one reason this game doesn’t place higher on my list is that the game can be punishingly difficult. By the time you’re comfortably getting to the later stages of the castle, you’re realising that your loadouts aren’t going to do it for you and you’re playing a doomed run. While I have found myself on the last stage on a number of occasions, I’ve never actually gotten to the final boss, and even that, from what I hear, it cheap to the point of not bothering.
I’m not too worried about beating the game’s final boss though. It’s a joy to just play this game in the moment to moment, and I’d recommend it to anyone based on that alone. As long as you have a little bit of a masochist streak.