Dead Cells was one of the surprise hits of 2018, blending roguelike elements with the familiar action-platforming of Castlevania and Metroid. The game was one of the more notable success stories from Steam Early Access, where it initially launched as a polished but limited version of what it’d eventually become. Over the course of months, French developer Motion Twin iterated on the experience, taking into account player feedback. The result was a game that garnered widespread critical acclaim, including a 9/10 score from us.
But Dead Cells’ path to success was even longer than what early adopters saw. In fact, it began life as a mobile, free-to-play, co-op, tower defense title. As with most video games, Dead Cells evolved over time, and along that process Motion Twin fine-tuned the gameplay experience to what many would argue is close to perfection.
What most may not know, however, is that Dead Cells is packed with fascinating design tricks that are happening behind-the-scenes, and all work to ensure that the player is having an exciting, satisfying, and rewarding time. In a game where death is frequent and inevitable, Motion Twin has used numerous smart techniques to ensure the challenge of the game doesn’t arise from quirky or questionable design.
In the latest episode of Audio Logs, game designer Sebastian Benard, explores some of these design tricks, explaining the thought process behind them and how they result in a smoother, fairer experience. Benard also delves into the game’s history, showing off what it was like in its early stages, which involved multiple players battling waves of enemies with the last remaining survivor being crowned the victor.
Audio Logs is a weekly show where the people behind the games we love tell us the stories of how they’re made. Episode one featured Cory Barlog, director of the acclaimed PS4 title God of War, while episode two was all about Cuphead and included Studio MDHR’s Jared Moldenhauer breaking down the Dice Palace.
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