Setup: iPhone XS Max (iOS 13 Beta)
Developer: Motion Twin
Publisher: Motion Twin
Release Date: 8/7/18 (PC/Consoles); 8/28/2019 (iOS/Android)
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android
Mobile gaming is in a weird space right now. A lot of games are being ported over from consoles or PC to the platform, to varying degrees of success. Hyper Light Drifter, for example, worked pretty well, despite some floatiness in the controls. I thought Gris, on the other hand, didn’t work quite as well as it should have. But in each of these games there’s always a moment before I start playing, or during the opening levels, where I ask myself: did the developer get mobile gaming controls right, or are we gonna have a bad time in spite of their best efforts?
From the moment I started playing Dead Cells, an ultrahyped game from 2018, on my iPhone, that question basically evaporated from my mind.
Without getting too much into the mechanics, I can say with confidence that Dead Cells is one of the best-feeling games to play on your phone or tablet, bar none. It’s incredibly responsive, the floating digital analog stick is never intrusive, the game actually goes from screen edge to screen edge on an iPhone XS Max and iPad Pro, and I have not had a single performance issue to date. And I’m running on iOS 13 Beta! I should at least have had a couple performance issues by now!
Aside from that, Dead Cells for iOS is a faithful port of the console and PC versions. If you haven’t played it before, it’s a Roguelike, it’s a platformer, it’s got that Metroidvania flavor, and it’s pretty challenging. There are lots of ways to die in this game, many of them gruesome, and you should expect to die a lot in the first few runs of your playthrough.
That said, something I mentioned in my first impressions of the game was that Dead Cells deaths never felt punitive or frustrating to me, even given the total reset back to the very beginning you face upon each death. This still rings true in my 40th playthrough. I haven’t defeated the game yet, but I can see myself sinking countless hours into runs, collecting cells to upgrade my health potions and weaponry, and discovering more of this world.
I really like this game, and I think you will too. It’s out on both iOS and Android, there are no microtransactions to be found ANYWHERE in the game, and there are far, far worse ways to spend $7.99.