Author Topic: Dead Cells - RogueVania  (Read 926 times)

Offline TheVampire100

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Dead Cells - RogueVania
« on: May 16, 2017, 04:48:31 PM »
Dead Cells is, what the developers describe as "RogueVania" and the name already implies it, its a mix between Metroidvania and Rogue-like.
You might scratch your head and think "aren't these two totally different genres?" and you are correct. Metroidvanias are about a big, exploarable world divided into sections and bosses, once you reach certain points or beat a boss, you get a new ability or a new item that lets you explore new sections of the game world while also enabling to look up some of the sidepaths that were locked before, so you can find more bonus items. This helps you to progress your character further util you are ready for the final boss. Part of the fun of Metroidvanias is to find all the secrets in the game and collect all the items.
Rogue-lieks ont he other hand go into the opposite direction. You have a randomly generated world that may also contain secrets but the thing about rogue-likes is, everything is randomly placed and because of this, all your tools are aviable to the beginning. There is the same feeling of progression in the way that you level up your character and find new items that improve you even more. Newer instances of this genre filtered out some gameplay elements which is why they are called "rogue-lites" instead but still keep the core mechanics.While in Rogue-likes you can also collect all the secrets and stuff, the game has little to no backtracking because you either find the secret right at the start or probably never and progress simply further. A lot rogue-likes do also not allow to get back to previous sections of the game world, a big difference to Metroidvanias.


Dead Cells wants to fuse these genres and they call Rogue Legacy as inspiritaion 8which did something similiar). In my opinion the Metroidvania part of the game is still lacking but more to that later.

Dead Cells introduces you to a headless Protagonist who awakens in a prison cell  and wants to escape. That's all that is to the lore at the moment because the game is still unfinished (Early Access). You always start out with a rusty blade as starting weapon and can decide if you want a bow or a shield as side weapon. Combat is very fluid and battle combos work seamless together. I think the combat system is currently the strongest/best aspect of the game. The game is divided in different sections, you start at the prison and can enter sewers, a promenade and the ramparts, you cannot, unlike typical Metroidvanias, backtrack to previous segments. The sections appear always at the same locations, first prison, fromt here either sewers or promenade, and so on. It's a branching system where you decide in which section you want to go. Enemies are always tied to their specific section except some standard enemies that appear across the entire game world.
Levels are pseudo-randomly generated, they are made of different pre-designed chunks that are randomly connected to guarantee an interesting level on each run.  Rewards are randomly placed amond these chunks (or maybe they are fixed to specific chunks, I don't know the exact algorithm of course). You can find either stat upgrades (liek typical in an RPG) that increase your weapons damage, your skill damage or your hp. Some upgrades let you decide what to raise. You can also find all unlocked weapons or skills so far and of course gold. Additionally you can find so-called blueprints. If you bring these to the blacksmith who waits at the end of each level, he unlocks a new item in his shop. The blacksmith acts as meta progression tool in this game, similiar to the castle in Rogue Legacy. You can pay him with cells (which are dropped by killed enemies) and unlock new items (if you brought him the corresponding blueprint) or improve already unlocked items. He can also give you the ability to start with different (random) weapons at the start instead of the poor stuff you have first. You also unlock a heatlh potion, that allows you to rplenish your health anywhere in a level, similiar to Dark Souls. The flask can be refilled at the blacksmith and only there but you can improve it to hold more charges.
Bosses are, like enemies, fixed to different sections. These count into the metaprogression of the game. Defeated bosses unlock permanent abilities to reach new places in levels, for example you can create vines at specific places to reach higher ledges and get to new routes. This way you can collect more stuff or enter in new sections of the game.
However, the current abilities you can unlock are a little lackluster and once you defeated the boss, he does not return. Because of this, the game still feels more like typical Roguelite and less like true Metroidvania. The Metaprogression just increases the pool of items you can find, something that other rogue-likes/rogue-lites already do en-masse. When I heard of the game, i kinda excepted more but this will hopefully get better, when the game is shaped out more. I think once more routes and sections are added, it gets a lot more meaningful what permanent skills you unlock and hopefully these skills can be used in battle as well and not only at specific fixed locations.
The game is however really good for a sidescroller rogue-like alone and this is already a good enough reason to buy it if you are interested in this kind of thing. Just don't buy it in high hopes, that there are good metroidvania aspects because there aren't at the moment. If anythign it draws more of Dark Souls instead.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2017, 11:18:36 PM »
I will necro this thread to say that this game is the first rogue game, of any sort, which I will take an interest to. It feels very fluid, with enough elements of cross life gameplay, to tempt be to dive into the game to play. It is both immediately enjoyable, and with long term hope, to maybe spend a lot of time learning.
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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2017, 11:43:17 PM »
Honestly this one looked interesting to me, but as soon as I heard the bits about it having stat-progression (which includes the permanent improvement of items or abilities) like Rogue Legacy (which I hate) I lost interest in it.   As a rule I cant stand permanent meta-progression in any roguelike (one of the reasons why Starward has none).   Unlocks are fine (depending on just how they work), but permanent upgrades like increased stats or buffed abilities, just.... no. 

Also this one looks REALLY repetitive from what I've seen of it.

Still, I can see why people like it at least.  Oddly makes me think of the older Castlevania games.  I mean BEFORE Symphony.


Offline TheVampire100

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2017, 12:26:57 PM »
That's, because this one was designed to be part Metroidvania and Metaprogression is an important factor in those games. Honestly, I cannot see this game without the feature of blueprints and permanent improvements.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2017, 04:39:11 PM »
That's, because this one was designed to be part Metroidvania and Metaprogression is an important factor in those games. Honestly, I cannot see this game without the feature of blueprints and permanent improvements.

Yes, it is precisely why I got into this to begin with. I understand that having such a feature or not can divide into two camps, and that's ok! The genre is large enough I can think it supports both.

Also the gameplay is really, really enjoyable.
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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2017, 02:12:37 AM »
That's, because this one was designed to be part Metroidvania and Metaprogression is an important factor in those games. Honestly, I cannot see this game without the feature of blueprints and permanent improvements.

Aye, this is true, however there are loads of ways of doing the Metroid-style progression WITHOUT doing that type of thing.  In fact, it'd be pretty bloody easy.

The best example by far that I can think of is a game called Gentrieve 2.  I've rambled about this one in the past.  It's not a sidescroller, it's more like the Metroid Prime games, but the entire "Metroidvania" experience is put uniquely into every single run.  All the same ideas are present.  Both the tangled, huge, and complicated map/world (separated into different zones, like in every game of this type), powerups that are similar to the old Metroid ones (Missile, super missile, bomb, dash boots, hookshot, similar stuff, you find all of them in every game, it's not like Isaac with 20000 items), and of course areas that are "gated" by those powerups.  Sections where you *must* have the hookshot item or super bombs or whatever in order to enter. 

It's the full experience, EVERY individual run, with a very approachable learning curve, and frankly one of my all-time favorite indie games (and that's saying something).... but it has zero meta-progression.  None.  ALL of this is contained in a single run.  The entire Metroidvania experience.

And that sort of lack-of-stat-progression (in any roguelike, I don't mean just Metroidvania sorts) means a couple of things:

1.  Dramatically better balance.  My problem with meta-progression in ANYTHING roguelike is that they're about as balanced as a drunken one-legged spider on a trampoline during an earthquake.  It's impossible to avoid this.  You quickly get to the point where certain areas of the game are utterly obsolete.  Even the devs are fully aware of this, and always always always always give easy ways to simply skip areas, knowing that there's no bloody point in dealing with the older ones.  It's like playing Single Zone mode in Crypt of the Necrodancer, except for a really stupid reason, and with it being pretty much the ONLY mode.  You also deal with the bit where other areas cannot be beaten with pure skill, requiring stats instead, not just power items.   The balance issues with this go way, way, WAY deeper than just these.  I could write a 10-page essay about this one.

2.  NO FREAKING GRINDING.  Good grief I hate grinding.

3.  Purely skill-based.  ANY good roguelike... at least by my book... has this aspect.  Yes, even Isaac.  This genre, as a rule, has a specific trait:  The RNG, no matter how much of an ass it's being, can ALWAYS be defeated by pure skill, strategy, and planning.  This is why even in Isaac, good players can get win-streaks of 100+. Or Enter the Gungeon, or Nuclear Throne, or Starward, whatever. It works in all of them. But in progression-focused games, this typically doesn't happen.  The "gated by numbers" aspect pretty much guarantees many deaths... you have no choice but to grind those levels (or whatever form it takes).  There is an exception... sometimes...  for players of really extreme skill, but even then there are problems, such as the fact that the run will take 10000 years (because your stats are so freakishly low that you barely can hurt anything).  In most of these, though, later sections are truly hard-gated like that.

4.  Less boring items.  I honestly just cant get past this in progression-focused games.  Instead of items that DO stuff, it's items that just change numbers and nothing else for the most part.  I've never seen one of these games break this rule.  Never.  Not in comparison to the other sort, anyway.  Oh, you'll get things like different weapons and magic and whatnot.  But the variety will be VERY diluted and typically not very creative.


So, those are my own personal reasons for avoiding these like the plague.  It's not that I haven't played them.... I had a long go at Neon Chrome a few months ago for instance (because I was assigned to review it for a site I write things for), and.... yeah.  All of these problems were present.  I kept up with it until I'd spent enough time to meet my own criteria for doing a "full" review (which is to play something for like 30+ hours, a rule I don't always use for basic Steam reviews that I just do because I bloody well feel like it) and honestly past that point I just didn't care.  I gave the game a positive review, because I see why some like it, but I personally cant stand it.  Was just so freaking bored.


Just so freaking glad Starward didn't end up with this stuff.  There were some aspects that came close to happening during development, but I ranted them into the ground.


I understand that having such a feature or not can divide into two camps, and that's ok! The genre is large enough I can think it supports both.

I will say I still agree with this though.  There's always more than one way to make a game in any genre.

Doesn't mean I wont still complain though.  It's what I do.

Offline TheVampire100

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2017, 03:52:12 PM »
Metroid prime is a Metroidvania? I haven't played it but wasn't that game simply a first person shooter?
Anyway, Gentrieve 2, no idea how this is handled but then again, Metroidvania has some of Metaprogression.You might say "nuh-uh" because this one game didn't but in general, Metroidvanias are not designed to be played in one run. Of course there are speed runs aviable for those but honestly, these are aviable for EVERYTHING.
Looking at Gentrieve it looks mor elike "okay, you have a random Metroidvania each time". This looks... boring after the first run. When i won, I won, no reason to play the game any further just because the items are now at different regions.
Metroidvania, the very bis aspect of Metroidvanias, is the completionist aspect of finding all the secrets and stuff even if you already finished the game.
Dead Souls has this. gentrieve obviously don't. It just generates a entirely new Metroidvania experience for you that id aligns the items to different places. And this gets surprisingly boring reaaaallly fast.

Now, Dead Souls on the hand has somewhat of the same issues: You have seperate runs that are locked in itself, you cannot backtrack those runs, you cannot complete the map even if you wanted. Thats a little let down for me.
However, there are secrets there, one is even right at the start of the game, you just have to look a little to the left.

Now let's face it. You have little to no idea how DC handles "metaprogression". You simply so that word and assumed it works like everywhere (stats). The better term would be "unlocks" anyway. You simply unlock new weapons and skill for your character that are generated through your runs. You CAN upgrade these items but it's not like you guaranteed to get them.
As far as I've seen there are no general stat upgrades for your character, there is stuff that is overall more useful (bigger flask which works through all runs) but the standard stats stay the same. The stats are btw strentgh for weapon damage, skill for skill damage and hp for... hp. Everything esle is only determined by the weapons and skills you find. And of course your ability to udnerstand the flow of combat. Like I said before, the game is very fluid and the combat happens very fast. It is more important that you can read the patterns of your enemies that it is important how good your stats are. The game designers don't state that it was inspired by Dark Souls for nothing.

Let's just debunk all your arguments one by one.

1. No issue at all, as before, weapons just work differently, stats are not an issue. You can get lucky and get a weapon with a higher property (which means it can get a special abilty additional to its normal use, but that ability is randomly designed). You simply won't powerhouse through anything (well, in fact, the first region is easy anyway, even with 0 unlocks) just because you have good stats. Enemies can stunlock you easily if you don't know how to block or dodge attacks.
Here is a varity of some unlocks:
Rusty sword is your starting weapon, it deals moderate damage and has moderate attack speed, so in general it's average at best. It has more attack than faster weapons but less than slower weapons.
Assassins Dagger deals less damage but deals more damage if you attack enemies from behind. This changes entirely the way how you aproach opponents and how you battle them. You will try to get behind them as often as possible.
Blood Sword does a lot less damage than any other weapon but adds a bleeding debuff on the enemy which deals damage over time. This is useful for longer lasten battles where enemies are really tanky but less useful vs smaller enemies with little hp (that you could instakill with any other sowrd).
Hunters bow and infantry bow deal more damage if you are further away or closer to the enemy.

There are a lot more examples and weapons simply change the way ypu go into battle, there are no "powerhouses" like in (ugh) Isaac.

2 Grinding: Like... not even possible since the enemies are finite. You cannot simply run between two regions and farm souls like in Dark Souls, when you simply activate a bonfire. And you cannot use your cells after the run either, you have to use your cells DURING the run. Plus, the game also encourages in speeding through because there are doors that are only open for a global timeframe (regardless in which region you are, if your run takes too long, they close). So there are two aproaches you can go. Speed through and get the rewards from the timed doors r go slow, kill every creature, look for every nook and cranny (like a true Metroidvania) and get everything.
Bosses are however always at the same strength level (compared to enemies, that adapt the longer you go), so it is guarenteed that you might beat one of the bosses eventually, if you get everything. Maybe. I beat only one boss so far and that one was hard as hell.

3. Oh good lord, I miss the time when rogue-like where not skill based but tactically based, lol. Nowadays its all about reflexes, reflexes, reflexes. Isaac corrupted this genre and everyone tries to make now real-time rogue-likes. its aweful and Isaac can go to hell for it. Forever. Anyway, Dead Cells is the same but Dead Cells tries to be not a rogue-like exclusivly. That*s your misconception again. It's a mic between Metroidvania, some rogue-like elements and Dark Souls gameplay elements.
So, skill is here even mor eimportant than let's say, shitty Isaac which can still burn forever. It's simply not bullet hell and more a combo based system where you have to predict the attack animations of enemies. Like Dark Souls. That being said, you can simpyl run throught he game with your rusty sword and no shield and still win if you just dodge every single enemy attack. Because this is not possible for the normal human being, there are stats. And metaprogression (unlocks). Of course no one will pull this off with his/her first run because they simply don't know the game and the enemies yet. So it's easy to say "that's because there is progression in the game not because I failed".

4. Isaac has the most boring items ever seen in gaming history, even so, that it copies said items, applies a new icon and name to it and says, it's  anew item. 2000 literally say nithing if half of them are duplicates. Ugh! Dead Cells has  alot less items but they are more meaningful in the way, they dictate how you battle enemies. Look at point 2. Here is  alist with all items btw: https://deadcells.gamepedia.com/Gear
I don't doubt not everyone is useful for every player or that some may not even seem useful at all, hat's okay, th egame is still in EA and they are already changing how stuff works. Shields got an entirely makeover because they were lackluster before.
Also its funny how you count all this reason and then still like Isaac. Pretty much each of your arguments is, what Isaac makes so terrible.
Except the skill part. Maybe.
Isaac is KNOWN to have overly stat depending items.
Dead Cells has special... containers? These things drop a stat for you and they only drop that. There are two types, fixed, which drop the shown stat and selective, where you can select, what you want to increaee. there is no other way to increase stats and not by metaprogression, not through weapons (except they have an affix on them).

Offline Toranth

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2017, 08:59:16 PM »
Just addressing this point:
Anyway, Gentrieve 2, no idea how this is handled but then again, Metroidvania has some of Metaprogression. You might say "nuh-uh" because this one game didn't but in general, Metroidvanias are not designed to be played in one run.
Wait, what?  Neither Metroid nor Castlevania had any metaprogression at all.  While I've missed some of the more recent games, especially the last two Castlevania sets, I don't remember ANY of the games in either series having any metaprogression.  A new game was always a clean slate to start from.

Are the most recent games in those series that different?

Offline TheVampire100

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2017, 10:07:49 PM »
metaprogression was probably the wrong word in this case, but there was always a constant progression curve in these games. As far as rogue-likes go, there is simply the run and only that.
In Metroidvanias you can go forth and back as you like, rogue-likes lack this, especially the new ones.

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 05:22:37 AM »
metaprogression was probably the wrong word in this case, but there was always a constant progression curve in these games. As far as rogue-likes go, there is simply the run and only that.
In Metroidvanias you can go forth and back as you like, rogue-likes lack this, especially the new ones.

You're missing some of what I meant with the genre combination though.  Don't forget, this game is NOT just a Metroidvania.  It is that AND A ROGUELIKE.  This creates entirely new effects that normal Metroidvanias don't have.

Let's look at grinding for instance.

A "pure" metroidvania is ONE run.  Always.  Just.... one.  And the game is complete.  As in, ENTIRELY complete.

But a Metroidvania AND A ROGUELIKE doesn't work that way.  It's MANY runs.  Over and over and over. After a huge number of runs, you can say you've "completed" the game for the first time.  Rogue Legacy, for instance, the current reigning champion of this genre combination, does EXACTLY that.... and that's what allows grinding to not only be possible, but a nasty NECESSITY.

When that all is combined with Meta-progression:

It's not that you do grinding in an individual run, killing infinite enemies. That's the normal form of grinding, which actually doesn't exist here.  It's that you do what I guess could be called "meta-grinding", a term I invented just now.  You are actually grinding ENTIRE RUNS, instead of individual foes, in order to be even capable of progressing further in each individual run.  So instead of defeating a string of enemies in order to gain the stats necessary to access Area X, you grind a string of entire runs (ending before Area X, because you're not ready yet) until you ARE ready to enter Area X.  Once you have entered that, you again grind ENTIRE RUNS until you can enter Area Y in those runs.   Rogue Legacy freaking MASTERED this formula (which is exactly why I hate it so much) and is literally built entirely around it.  All roguelikes with permanent progression do this, which is the entire problem with them.  I've never, ever seen one that doesn't have this issue.  Never.

Now, as for Gentrieve?  Oh, I know that to some, you're not going to see the reason to play more than once....

....But that can be said of any "traditional" roguelike.  Those never change.  Ever.  The same enemies, the same items, the same THINGS appear each time.  As there is no progression, those things do not change.  But.... that's always been the nature of the genre.  They're not SUPPOSED to change.  Look at Crypt of the Necrodancer, for instance.  There are no item unlocks.  There are no enemy unlocks.  And no stat changes.  However, like most roguelikes people will get addicted to it and play entire runs over and over and over and over and over and over, even when they are winning each time and with all items unlocked (if the game in question even has locked items).  20XX does this.  Isaac does this.  Nuclear Throne does this.  Starward as well, and countless others.  The point of playing more runs.... is to play more runs.  Anyone into the genre enough (as in, the half of it that has no meta stuffs, or ultra-traditional turn-based ASCII sorts also) will know *exactly* what I'm talking about.  A run being "different every time" never was intended to mean that individual elements of the game were different each time.  It meant that they were organized and combined differently each time due to the base structure of the game being built anew in each run.

I mean, look at something like Spelunky for instance.  That's another game that is played absolutely to death.... but it's actually very low on content.  There's only a few areas, each area has only a few possible enemies, and there is a very small number of items compared to... damn near everything else.  Also, NONE of these things are locked.  So, like Gentrieve, Spelunky simply never changes.  It simply reorganizes each time.  Just like all of those other games I mentioned.

When you say this bit:  "When i won, I won, no reason to play the game any further just because the items are now at different regions."  this is really missing the point of this type of game (and is one of those things that makes me wonder why in the world you play Starward, which *never* locks anything at all or has progression beyond the "beat the warden 3 times").  Well, missing the point of the non-meta side of the genre.  Again, the point of doing more runs is simply to do more runs.

Even non-roguelikes do this.  Think back to older games.... much older.  Something like Megaman 2, right?  Most fans of that game haven't just played through it... they've played through it ALOT, particularly back in the day.  It was a game they frequently went back to, just like so many others, like the original Metroid, Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, you name it.  With literally zero meta stuffs or unlocks, what was the point when you'd already beaten it?  The point was.... to play them again.  Simply because they were good.  The basic concept of a roguelike is to do exactly that, but restructure everything so that each run is unique in that specific way. 

On another note...

Quote
4. Isaac has the most boring items ever seen in gaming history, even so, that it copies said items, applies a new icon and name to it and says, it's  anew item. 2000 literally say nithing if half of them are duplicates.

As an Isaac fan, I cant ignore this one.   But not just because it's Isaac:  Also because the concepts I'm going to go into here have to do with basic design for most of the genre.

Isaac's items are, to put it mildly, legendary in the genre.  They are perhaps THE reason why there are so many clones; simply being a "roguelike shooter Zelda game" wouldn't be enough.  They are a huge part of the reason Starward exists.   If you honestly think that Isaac's items are "all the same" (which would then apply to most of the genre, because most of them use a very similar design style).... then it sounds like you've literally never even seen the game being played.  Starward?  Not even CLOSE to the sheer variety and creativity of the items in Isaac.  And note, this is ME saying this, someone who was part of the dev team on that game, so this isn't something I'd ever say lightly. And I don't exactly consider Starward to be uncreative (quite the opposite).  In Isaac (and in most of these), the only duplicates in the game are "pure stat" items, as I call them; their entire function is to raise stats for that run (and almost all of these are boss items, which is actually something that Starward also does a lot).  There aren't actually that many different "pure stat" items when compared to the "do funky things" items.  "Pure stat" items exist in most games of this type.  They have to.  Without them, many balance aspects would be shattered.  There are some games that don't do this, but they often have problems as a result.  In those, character power levels are even more bonkers than in Isaac.  I don't mean in terms of being overpowered.  I mean the opposite:  Being underpowered.   Your power-level is extremely heavily dependant on currently "special" items, which may or may not actually be any good.  But your BASE stats, which most things depend on, wont rise.  Without those "boring" stat items, problems like that exist within the game. 

Now, this does bring up the question:  WHY are there direct duplicates of a given item?  Not just in Isaac, but in ANY of these (again, Starward too).  For example, a game might have an item that gives you, say, a heart container. And that's all that item does.  It might then have another item, with a different sprite and a different name, but it does THE EXACT SAME THING.  Or maybe it does the same thing but with a slight variance (for instance, one item in something like Starward gives you +10% attack power but does nothing else, and another item is exactly the same but it's +15% instead of 10.... still a duplicate).  People look at items like that and say "that's boring, it's bad design" but they never stop to consider what the actual reason for duplicates is.  And it is this:  Since stat-raising items are necessary to progress into more difficult sections in a run, this means that the player MUST HAVE A RELIABLE CHANCE OF GETTING THEM.  And this all boils down to item pools.  The more items are in a given pool, the more diluted it becomes.  So, if there's only one "gives you a heart container" item in there, every single other item decreases the chance of you getting that one. If there are 25 items in the item pool, you have a 1 in 25 chance of getting that heart container.  If that item pool inflates to 70, now you have a 1-in-70 chance.... muuuuuuch lower, yet the importance of that heart container item has not decreased.  So, duplicates are created to keep the balance proper.  Even Enter the Gungeon does this.... think about that for a second.  This is not a design aspect that can be avoided in games that revolve around items of this type/style.

And anyway, I've found that most players don't seem to actually think pure stat items are boring.  I don't just mean in Isaac, I mean in general.  It can be very satisfying to gain that +2 attack stat increase in a game like this.  Sure, it's not a "craaaazy" effect, it's not some hyper-creative item... but that doesn't make it not fun to get.  Simply being wacky all the time isn't what item design in a game like this is about, as I'm sure the Dead Cells devs also realized.

As for "overpowered" single items... Isaac doesn't have as many as people tend to assume when they haven't played it.  There are some crazy strong items like Brimstone, but these are pretty rare.  Becoming overpowered isn't about single items:  It's about knowing what you're doing.  Knowing what choices to make when decisions are presented to you.  Isaac isn't a game about pure RNG:  It's about turning "random chaos" into "ordered power" by making the right choices, and it will present you with ALOT of them.  This is why players can get huge win-streaks.   We did the very same thing with Starward.  In fact, the genre as a whole USUALLY does this.   I know some people tend to get this idea that RNG is *everything* in roguelikes, and I can understand how new players might feel that way.  But roguelikes seriously aren't like that.  They're about strategy, tactics, and decision making.  In a roguelike that isn't bloody terrible, the RNG *alone* can never defeat you.  You are always given the tools to survive, but it's up to you to A: spot them for what they are, and B: figure out how to use them in the context of that specific run.   

Note also that, again, most games in this genre also have singularly overpowered items in it.  The sorts that win you runs.  It's NOT exclusive to Isaac, and yes, we did it in Starward too.


Also, this:

Quote
Oh good lord, I miss the time when rogue-like where not skill based but tactically based, lol. Nowadays its all about reflexes, reflexes, reflexes.

This sounds like you'd be more content with turn-based roguelikes (I could suggest some, if you'd like).  In a real-time game, this aspect is inevitable. 

However.... that doesn't mean they're not tactical!   It doesn't mean they're fully skill-based!

And yes, this one, too, applies to Isaac.  Best example:  Northernlion.  One of the most famous of Isaac players.  If you actually watch him play it?  He gets hit a lot.  He crashes into enemies and bullets all the freaking time, fumbling around the level like a drunken hippo.   However.... he gets win-streaks of 100+.  WITHOUT relying on singularly overpowered items.   How does he do this?  By tactics and strategy.  Again, Isaac... and other games like Starward and whatever, or even turn-based roguelikes.... are not about RNG.  They're about you making decisions to max out the potential of the hand you are dealt.  Northernlion knows that game inside and out.  It doesn't matter what the game hands him:  He will find a way to use the different tools the game provides to create a winning run through sheer knowledge. CobaltStreak is an even better example of this:  His entire gimmick is "breaking roguelikes".  He's the grandmaster of the art of min-maxing. By that alone... he is able to win even more than NorthenLion.

Honestly, this is where you've misjudged not just Isaac, but this type of game ENTIRELY.  Not everyone uses masterful skill to beat these.  Because most players don't HAVE masterful skill.  A good developer knows this, when it comes to roguelikes.

Hell, if you were to watch me play Isaac, I crash into stuff all the time.  Not as much as NL, but I still do it.  Which may sound very strange for me, but that's how it goes in that very specific game.  I'm extremely aggressive, extremely impatient when it comes to combat.  And it's harder to dodge in that game than compared to a bullet-hell game as Isaac (and most of these) lacks the shrunken hitboxes that I'm used to.  However.... I'll win anyway.  Because my actual playstyle in Isaac is NOT about pure skill.  I'm a total min-maxer.  Always have been.  I'll do damn near anything to get even the tiniest advantage whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Hell, you should see just how much backtracking I do, in order to complete whatever my current mad-scientist scheme is.  I come up with seriously quirky, complicated-as-hell strategies to gain power boosts in each level, to combine items to create powerful effects.  The game will sometimes hand me all sorts of seemingly "weak" items.  But I'll look at them, look at things around the level, and go "Aha!  If I do THIS and THIS, and then use THIS, I can use these weak items in a way that will make them strong!".  Again, my entire playstyle is based around doing this.  Not just dodging everything always.

If these games were as you say they are....  about JUST skill and NOT tactics and strategy.... or all about stat-increasing items and nothing else (as you say Isaac is) my playstyle, and NL's, would be utterly impossible.  They would be unviable.  Neither he nor I would be capable of winning reliably.  It just wouldn't work.  Yet he does it, and he does it reliably, as do I.  My strength (and his) comes from the fact that I know that the RNG doesn't control the run.  *I* control the run... but only if I figure out how to use what the game offers me in that specific run.

Now, there are games that are exceptions to this of course.  20XX for instance, isn't whatsoever about min-maxing.  You don't get to make all that many decisions in that one; decisions are mostly about "what's in the shop this time" and that's it, in that game.  As opposed to the way Isaac/Starward/Gungeon/whatever does it, which is to give you potential decisions and opportunities every 2 seconds or so.  Of course, 20XX is basically "Megaman:  The roguelike".  It's expected that it's about skill, so it is.  But yeah, MOST of this genre is NOT purely skill based.  Were I in a position to do so, I could sit you down and simply SHOW you what I mean (which is often what I do when describing things like this to friends in my area).  I'm not too good at explaining stuff like this so I often wonder if I'm either getting the point across, or just confusing things more.

Again, I push forward the idea that you've *completely* misjudged what Isaac... and most of these... are actually about.  And again question why in the bloody hell you play Starward ever.  By everything you've said here, logically, you should hate that game.

And remember:  I'm not just saying this stuff by pulling it out of my nose.  I'm saying all of this from not just gameplay experience (as in, hundreds of hours in many of these, and 400+ in Isaac alone), I'm also saying this after having had real design experience where I'm expected to handle the balance of difficulty in multiple modes.  Not exactly speaking from a position of ignorance here.



Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway.  If you're wondering why I'm still rambling about all this:  I just find discussion about this genre to be bloody fascinating, seriously.  It's rare that I get to discuss it with anyone at all, actually.  Most of my friends couldn't give less of a crap.  They're all too busy playing the latest AAA shooter.   So this has been a good discussion so far.


Now, as for Dead Cells.... you know, the whole debate I had with Wingflier about Enter the Gungeon has suddenly occurred to me.  I ended up giving that game a second and longer chance after his repeated suggestions that I do so, aaaaand.... it clicked with me. 

I've decided to give Dead Cells a go for a similar reason.  It occurs to me that some of the things I've heard about the game... even if I've heard of them from more than one source.... may not be correct.  Don't get me wrong:  All of my current points on the topic of meta-progression overall still stand.  But.... it may be that they don't even APPLY to this game.  Based on what you are saying, I should simply experiment for myself and find out.  I'd hate to miss out on something good because I got backwards info about the game.  Which is pretty much what almost happened with Gungeon.  And also happened with Baroque, which I consider to be the single greatest of all of these that I've ever played (even more than Isaac).  I almost didn't even touch that game, because I thought it was going to be horrid.  Someone I knew just kept repeating to me (for like a month) "NO DAMMIT, I'M TELLING YOU, GO TRY IT, YOU'LL LOVE IT".  So I did, and boy was I glad for it.  I almost missed out on that game (which I have probably 800+ hours in).

So..... yeah.  Why the hell not?   It's not like the blasted money or time is an issue, and I have the curiosity of a cat anyway, so now I freaking MUST do it or it'll just bug me.  I'll go buy it now and we'll see what happens.

Again though, all the discussion of.... all that stuff still is there, even if it ends up not applying to this very specific game.  Provided that's actually the case, it may be that I play it and find out that the info wasn't backwards and the issues are indeed there as they are in Rogue Legacy.  Dunno yet. 



Also, yes, Metroid Prime is a "Metroidvania" game, since you mentioned that at the very start.  It's just in first person instead of being a sidescroller.... ALL of the other aspects of a Metroidvania game are there though.  I personally didn't actually like it much myself, but that.... well, that's a topic for another day.

Online Misery

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2017, 08:14:26 AM »
Okay, so, some initial impressions here....

Firstly:  The game absolutely does do the meta-stat thing I kept thinking it would.  The fact that you can permanently power up individual weapons/abilities is what does it.   Exactly the sort of thing I meant.  However they may have kept the numbers small enough for once that it wont have all that much of an effect.   Rare, actually.  Usually when this is done the impact is heavier.  Of course, it may prove to be heavier than it seems right now.


Anyway, onto the rest....

So, I've been through about half of the game as it stands now.  Looking at guides, seems that my runs have mostly ended JUST before the Black Bridge boss area.  The game isn't even close to as hard as I'd heard it was.  I've had very few deaths, and almost all of them were because I opened a Cursed Chest and then promptly did something dumb like walk directly into a charging bat.  Yeah, I know, "don't open them, then!" but I always find it hard to resist that sort of thing in these games.  Like using a Glass Shrine in Necrodancer.  I know I shouldn't but I do it anyway because I bloody well feel like it. I tend to find that type of mechanic entertaining.  It's satisfying when you do it and make it work. 

Enemies actually seem like they could be a little more aggressive in some ways?  Elite foes, now, provide more of a challenge, but still aren't THAT bad.  The one enemy that seemed particularly threatening was the mushroom dude, but I did quickly find ways around his attack and he seems pretty rare.  The enemy that did finally get me is the big huge dude that does the triple slash.  Elite version of that guy.  After a bit of time I did figure out his pattern, but.... then I made a moron of myself by forgetting that he had little friends around him.  So despite that he was almost down and not really hitting me, I got mauled by the little dudes.  So that was embarrassing.

Even if the enemies are a bit easier than I'd like overall, the combat is still pretty fun.  The fact that it's so wild and berserk works well for me. Or I guess I should say, it lets ME go berserk, anyway.  Individual enemy attacks are a bit on the slow side.  The game actually reminds me most of the original Castlevania in a lot of ways;  the difficulty in that old game was deceiving.  It wasn't actually that hard, but it did so much to convince the player that it was.  Dealing with things carefully was the way to beat it and that seems to be the case here.  Sort of.

Exploration is the strong part here as far as I'm concerned.  Game world has the same "feel" as Symphony did.  I did notice quickly the bit where you cant backtrack to previous zones, but.... ehh, roguelikes.  They usually don't let you do that.  Rogue Legacy was the one exception.  But there's plenty to explore in each individual area.  One thing I was expecting though was, er... what do I call them?  "Metroid powers" I guess, the sorts that get you to new areas.  Like, you know, in the original game, the high jump or the bombs or things that opened up new places.  THOSE seem to be lacking here.  Yeah, I know about the runes, but those are pretty much glorified keys... they have little actual gameplay function.  So that bit is kinda disappointing.  They could have gotten creative there.   I like the nod to the original Castlevania game though, the "secret" blocks with money or small healing items or whatever in them.  The way they work and the way they're usually positioned, and how you open them, brings back all sorts of memories of finding an entire roast chicken meal in some wall for no apparent reason.

Pacing seems... fast?  I'd be curious to see how long it's taking other players to go through the game.  Even with these areas being huge and my obsessive need to explore everywhere it just doesn't take very long at all to clear each one.  Looking at guides and such, my runs have tended to end JUST before some sort of boss, which sounds like the halfway point?  Not sure.  I'll get to it when I stop opening doom chests.  Either way though, it takes very little time to get there even while exploring absolutely everything.

Side weapons:  Now THESE are fun.  I mean the main weapons are fun too but the side weapons (with the cooldowns) are the big entertaining ones.  Bear traps are particularly satisfying.  They've done a good job with the weaponry.  The item selection as a whole.... not all that creative, but it's well executed.  I don't honestly care too much if they get really creative or not in this genre (hell, 20XX is about as creative as a brick when it comes to items that aren't boss powers.... still great).  The one thing I don't really use so far is shields.  Everything seems dodgable, and whenever I was carrying a shield I both never used it and never seemed to need it, so..... yeah.  Maybe I'll find a good use for them later but it seems better to just carry a second main weapon.



So, yeah, that's first impressions.   Will be a bit of time before I see just how much the stat progression bit affects the game.  The bit that'll disappoint me.... like with Rogue Legacy or Neon Chrome or most that do this... is if it does what it usually does and sucks much of the challenge out of it.  Particularly since it's not hugely challenging to begin with. 

And yes, I know, "you're not guaranteed to get those upgraded items" but, simply put, once you've upgraded ENOUGH of them, which I suspect wont take long, one way or another you *will* be stronger in every run simply by default.  I've noticed that you get new weapons and such pretty frequently in each run, it's not like you get stuck with the base weapons for very long.   

There IS also base upgrades for your character, also like I thought.  Stuff like getting the health flask permanently upgraded, or things like that.  They aren't things like "attack damage" upgrades, but they're hefty increases just the same.  So.... yeah.  There's that, too.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 08:22:07 AM by Misery »

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2017, 11:00:21 AM »
Okay, yep, I was right, I'd been right near the boss.

After resisting the urge to grab another cursed chest, went to him for the first time wielding what has got to be the most awkward weapon ever (whip, a very very slow one).  And only the stupid throwing knives for a secondary weapon, which are useless against that guy since they run out until he dies.

Still, he too isn't as bad as I thought.  The main problem with him is just his screwy jumping attack.... his hitbox is extremely strange when he's doing that, to the point where I actually thought he was glitching out at first.   I almost had him though.  If you can master the dodging of his jump attack, he'll get a lot easier.

Offline Draco18s

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2017, 12:35:40 PM »
Misery, I'm curious, what are your thoughts on Risk of Rain?
By which I mean, in this context of meta-progression.

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2017, 07:18:54 PM »
Misery, I'm curious, what are your thoughts on Risk of Rain?
By which I mean, in this context of meta-progression.

I'm not aware of it having had any?  You just unlocked items and characters. And later on they added the artifacts, but those aren't meta-progression either, they're basically Nuclear Throne's funky crowns or Caveblazer's Relics.  Almost different "modes" than anything else, usually making things harder.  Unless something changed since I've last played it (it's been awhile), the game was always utterly centered around individual runs, not any major meta beyond the unlocks.

Nice enough game, I've spent a good bit of time with it, but more RNG-reliant than most in terms of getting your character build going (since you were only rarely given choices of available items, though it did a good job of making those have impact when they did happen).   I never did manage to get any good with the blasted Enforcer character.  Just died a lot.   I go back to it every now and then.


On a side note, apparently they are making a sequel, and it's in full 3D?  I just saw a gif of it, very.... er.... unexpected.




Offline Draco18s

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Re: Dead Cells - RogueVania
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2017, 07:30:13 PM »
I was referring to the items and characters.