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Dead Cells’ Castlevania DLC Is One More Reason To Go Back To This Fine-As-Heck Action Game
Platform(s): PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Mobile
Genre: DLC to 2018’s best roguelike Metroidvania slasher featuring a headless guy
Dead Cells came out in 2018 to thunderous reception due to its tight controls, roguelike nature, crazy-but-fair difficulty, and a plethora of weapons and traps at your fingertips. Due to its roguelike nature -if you die in your run at any time, you start over- everything about the game screams multiple replayability, with secrets to uncover and weapons/new buffs to unlock for subsequent runs. Dead Cells has also been kept healthy and alive with its yearly DLC drops and they’re all worthy additions.
This year’s DLC release for the search action title, Return To Castlevania, is Motion Twin’s tribute to the series that spawned Dead Cells in the first place. And it sure as heck does justice to the source material, so don’t act too shocked if you find yourself going back again to this action title.
Dead Cells: Return To Castlevania is essentially a bunch of new levels that are based on the iconic Konami action game series, with the Beheaded going through the outskirts of Dracula’s Castle that leads straight and then upward. Then, you’ll have to navigate inside the maze that is Dracula’s abode, and then fight a couple of Castlevania bosses. You’ll get some guest appearances from Castlevania’s Richter Belmont and Alucard through the course of the run to make sure you’re on the correct path.
Action-wise, the stages are fun, challenging without being too unfair at times, and feature a good number of awesome musical remixes from Dead Cells composer Yoann Laulan. The DLC not only brings in some new levels to explore and fun bosses to fight from the Castlevania lore, it also introduces new weapons and costumes from the series for replayability’s sake. Dead Cells is all about getting as many cells to unlock permanent power-ups and weapons in the pool; having staple Castlevania weapons like Alucard’s shield, the Vampire Killer whip, to even Death’s scythe brings in a new bunch of fun abilities. The latter is clearly my favourite for any run: it summons dead souls from enemies you killed to be made into explosive “soul” projectiles, and comes with an area-spanning 3-hit combo arc. Even the costumes are worth grinding for if only because the novelty of wearing an Alucard or 80s Simon Belmont outfit while killing bad guys in Dead Cell’s esoteric world never gets old.
Having said all that, the path to getting to the DLC’s stages is a bit odd, considering you can only access the second version of Dracula’s Castle in a separate run after you kill the first Castlevania boss. It’s a bit strange why you couldn’t do all of this in one single run, though the whole point of Dead Cells is replayability and getting a good run, so it’s a quirk that longtime fans are used to.
Long story short, you should just buy the new DLC because you’re going back to playing Dead Cells with new stages, levels, and awesome weapons, alongside a secret stage where you play as one of the Belmont vampire hunter members in his own run-and-whip segment. The graphical nods, easter egg collectables like the Belmont and Belnades outfits, and remixed Castlevania music using the game’s classical strings and ambience; all of it tie in well and is catered to both search action and 90s platforming action fans involving vampire killing. Chances are you’re playing Dead Cells because you are a fan of the search action genre, so it’s only fitting you would appreciate the slice of love Motion Twin has made from this humble-sized DLC.
You don’t need more reasons to go back to Dead Cells time and again just because of how addictive the fight, die, repeat mechanics and flawless controls are. However, this 2023 tribute proves that the 2D search action roguelike’s headspace is still in the right place. Even if its main character doesn’t have one.
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