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'Dead Cells - The Queen & The Sea' Review: A Mighty Expansion Polishes Perfection

'Dead Cells - The Queen & The Sea' Review: A Mighty Expansion Polishes Perfection

I'm picking up good mutations

I firmly believe that Dead Cells is as close to a perfect video game as it’s possible to get. The celebrated 2017 roguelike-metroidvania hybrid is a slick, stylish mishmash of genres with a deliciously dark sense of humour and a deadly, constantly shifting world filled with secrets. 

Developers Motion Twin and Evil Empire could easily have left Dead Cells well enough alone after it emerged from Early Access in 2018 and they still would have had an all-time classic on their hands. Instead, the team has spent the last five years gradually expanding and mutating the game through a mix of free and paid DLC packs. New weapons, levels, bosses, crossovers, challenges, and more have only served to improve and deepen one of the greatest roguelikes ever made. 

The Queen & The Sea is the third of Dead Cells’ major DLC offerings, following on from The Bad Seed and Fatal Falls. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that it’s also the biggest - and best - yet. 

Make no mistake, this new expansion is a ridiculously hefty offering of brand-new Dead Cells content, which is only ever a Very Good Thing Indeed. This is late-game content that will delight and punish the most dedicated players out there with fresh story content to uncover, terrifying bosses to face down, and new biomes to explore. 

The new lighthouse area is a particular standout. It introduces a fascinating new mechanic that adds an extra wrinkle to progression in Dead Cells - as if the experience wasn’t already stressful enough. 

In this nautical new biome, players will have to scale the lighthouse while avoiding the rising flames. Sound too easy? Fortunately for you, you’ll also have to contend with a relentless new enemy called the Queen's Guardian, which will dog your steps, Nemesis-style, as you desperately attempt to reach the exit. Much like the previous expansions, The Queen & The Sea delights in pulling the rug out from underneath the players who think they’ve mastered Dead Cells. It’s utterly brutal, and will leave fans delighted. 

There are also plenty of brand-new items to hunt down and weapons to master, including a pirate-hook hand that can be used for devastating melee attacks. But that’s not really a patch on the giant Great White shark that will devour any enemy you happen to yeet it in the direction of. None of these new items break or unbalance the game at all, which is impressive enough in itself, but you'll definitely want to play around with everything new on offer... if only to see how thoroughly ridiculous some of it is. A weaponised fish is very much the tip of the iceberg, my friends.

Add in a final, final boss and an alternate ending that fans have waited years to see, and you have one of the most generous, robust, and unapologetically challenging expansions ever released - one that delivers on every conceivable level. The Queen & The Sea will kick your ass again and again. But as with everything in Dead Cells, perseverance is totally worth it. 

Dead Cells was already a phenomenal video game that I wouldn't have hesitated to recommend to anyone. With The Queen & Sea joining the previous two paid expansions, it has become one a truly essential package. Maddeningly mysterious, uncompromisingly challenging, and mind bogglingly generous in its content, Dead Cells is a stupidly good game that refuses to stop improving. Veterans: you're in for a treat. Newcomers: prepare yourselves for something truly special.

Pros: Lightning-fast gameplay, an incredible mix of powers, weapons, and abilities, heaps of secrets and challenges to discover across a range of beautifully designed biomes

Cons: May be too hard for some

For fans of: Metroid Dread, Hades, The Binding Of Isaac

10/10: Perfect

Dead Cells - The Queen & The Sea is available now on all platforms. Code for review was supplied by the publisher. Find a guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Motion Twin

Topics: Indie Games