Dead Cells (Switch, 2018)

Before Marvel’s Spider-Man took over all my time, I was playing Dead Cells on my Switch. I saw a sale on the physical copy on Amazon and decided to take a chance.

Dead Cells is an action-platformer roguelike though with far less randomization than I am used to. I find it very enjoyable, though I have yet to finish a single playthrough. There are a ton of things to unlock and collect for future playthroughs but, unlike Binding of Isaac, I am not inspired to complete or see everything.

Different levels have guaranteed access to new movement powers so, like Castlevania or Metroid, to advance you have to find these powers. I had to give up on my longest playthrough because I hadn’t unlocked the one power I needed to progress. That was depressing. At the same time, I enjoy the initial gating because it forces me to try different level paths, each with their own enemies and hazards.

The gameplay is fluid and animations are great. I would easily put it on par with Castlevania Symphony of the Night or, more recently, Hollow Knight in terms of fluidity. The bosses thus far have been a letdown but its an enjoyable game to try and go as fast as possible in (like Sonic the Hedgehog where most enemies are to be ignored).

I love the pixel art and the humor. You play a corpse animated by a sentient slime. There’s a story, but it is revealed in randomly generated rooms that add to the theme/ambiance of the game. It is all very background, but it adds up to be a pleasure.

I noticed on my periphery some hype for this game. Like Hollow Knight, it seems to have a lot of fans and a strong following. I personally feel Hollow Knight is better in every way, but Dead Cells does a better job of offering similar gameplay in a more bite-sized, arcade-esque fashion. It is perfect for Nintendo Switch.

I doubt I write a full review when I do get to where I feel comfortable stopping. I’d say if you generally enjoy this kind of game, then Dead Cells is another enjoyable entry in your personal library. Otherwise, it may be worth a shot to find out if this is the kind of game for you. Its challenging but I never feel like it is challenging in a deliberate or unfair way. I think it has great entry-level potential and it stands well on its own regardless of the reason you want to give it a shot.

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch, 2017)

Before playing Super Mario Odyssey late last year, I would’ve ranked my top 5 Mario games as:

  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Super Mario World II: Yoshi’s Island
  • Super Mario 3D Land
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario 3D World

And after playing Super Mario Odyssey? My ranking has not changed.

Super_Mario_Odyssey_Logo

Super Mario Odyssey is the 2017 Mario main series debut for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a 3D platformer more in the vein of Super Mario 64, with open worlds and a ton of exploration. I personally loved it but I was confused by how it was being treated as the greatest Mario game ever. For me, it just wasn’t.

The game suffers from having too many things to collect. I have never been a Mario completionist and collect-a-thons in general don’t appeal to me. Still, if the gameplay is good, I will at least make an attempt at getting everything. Super Mario Odyssey’s gameplay is fantastic but there was no way I was going to go after 900+ power moons.
That may seem like a petty complaint, especially since I have allowed this one issue to deflate my overall love of Odyssey significantly.. Throughout the game, I felt like I was getting a power moon for everything I did, whether it was challenging or not. Sure, some puzzles and platforming sections were rewarding to compete on their own, but the sheer amount of power moons you can receive in any given world devalued them for me significantly.

Beyond my issues with its gluttony of collectibles and devalued reward system, the rest of Super Mario Odyssey was really good. I am less a fan of Super Mario, the open world adventurer, as I prefer the focus of levels (probably obvious after seeing my top 5 list above). Still, Odyssey is a great iteration of the formula and managed to be fun throughout for me even though it wasn’t my preference.

I do think the game could’ve benefited from proper co-op. I really loved Super Mario 3D World since it had so much replayability with friends. However, I rarely got to play that co-op since it was local only. With Super Mario Odyssey, I had hoped it would bring the co-op back, especially since the console has been touted for its portability. I have a few colleagues in the office with Switches, so I could’ve easily played it with others on my lunch breaks.

Finally, the boss design is terrible. The bunny wedding planners felt like they belonged in a different game (maybe a Wario game). Plus, fighting them all multiple times felt like a cop out for a game that otherwise had so much creativity. I much prefer multiple unique bosses to repeating the same boss with slight variation, especially when I hated that boss’s design the first time I fought them.

Where would I rank Super Mario Odyssey overall? It is easily in the top 10 overall Mario games for me and definitely the best platformer I have played since Super Mario 3D World a few years back. I’d probably play a direct sequel to it, but I won’t be as hyped as I was for Odyssey before I played it. It was fun and exciting, but not the style of Mario game I love most.