Dead Cells is a 2D rogue-lite that is heavily inspired by the metroidvania genre. You will treck through gorgeous, unique environments fighting enemies with an array of weapons and items. The game will require precision and thinking on your feet as you'll have to roll, jump, and climb your way through obstacles and weigh the choices of everything you pick up to become a deadly force to be reckoned with. After each death, you will be able to come back and buy permanent upgrades, and then head right back into the non-linear world where you will find even more secrets, hidden passages, and much more.
Dead Cells is quite possibly one of the greatest rogue-like games I have ever played. The incredible visuals, detailed landscapes, and addicting gameplay loop all come together seemlessly in an amazing combat system that feels fluid with its varied weapons and dodging. This is only made better with the free updates it has gotten, as well as the DLC that have been released for it, which add in new locations, weapons, bosses, and much more. Speaking of which...
The Castlevania DLC for Dead Cells was provided to us by Motion Twin and TinsleyPR for review. Thank you!
The Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania DLC released 3 days ago and I have to say, whoever came up with this idea deserves a large raise. I don't recall one time I felt a crossover fit so well into a game. 2 new biomes, 14 new weapons, 3 bosses, 20 outfits, new enemies, over 60 added music tracks, and a new storyline featuring Richter and Alucard are all part of this $10 package and it is incredible.
After you die a couple times, you will be able to start accessing the Castlevania content, which will be confirmed when you see red bats fly across your screen. From there, just find Richter in the prison and he will start you on your journey into the new storyline.
There is so much I can really say about this expansion, but I can't stress enough how incredible it is. The new weapons, like the Cross, Morning Star, Bible, Vampire Killer, and Holy Water, fit in perfectly, the outfits are great, the music tracks are fantastic, the biomes are gorgeous, and the boss fights...oh the boss fights are epic. I had just made it through Dracula's castle and I thought I was heading to fight him, but no, I was pulled down by a purple chain to be killed by Death, which was an insane battle.
On top of that, being able to put on outfits of Castlevania characters and make yourself look like Richter, Simon, Alucard, Maria, Trevor, and even Dracula while fighting classic enemies of the franchise like Medusa, Werewolves, Buer, Armor Knights, Throw Masters, and more! Overall, for $10, this feels like a steal. And for those who don't have it, there is a bundle for $25 for both the base game and this expansion. I highly recommend it if you haven't taken the dive yet.
With how amazing Dead Cells is, it's only made better by how perfect it runs on the Steam Deck without any changes! The game will drain around 6W - 8W for a battery life of 6.5 - 7 hours at a solid 60 FPS. There are some small stutters here and there, but I only noticed because I had the overlay on, otherwise, I wouldn't have at all!
I had no issues with controls or visual bugs that appeared. In cutscenes, the screen would turn into letterbox format, but it went right back to the 1280x800 resolution it supports. To make things even more appealing, Dead Cells is being played through a native Linux build, and it runs fantastically.
Dead Cells is one of my personal favorite games. I am a huge fan of roguelike and metroidvania games, and this game does a wonderful job blending the two and refining it to a tee. And with the release of the incredible Return to Castlevania expansion, there is even more reason to jump in now if you haven't. If you don't have this expansion, I highly encourage checking it out, it is $10 well spent! Thankfully, you will also be able to fully enjoy it on the Steam Deck with no compromises needed, making it one of our Best on Deck games! Dead Cells and the Castlevania DLC are essentials to your Deck's library.
Our review is based on the PC version of this game.
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Ghost Song was provided by Humble Games to review. Thank you!
Ghost Song is a metroidvania with some souls-like gameplay elements all wrapped up in a gorgeous-looking package. As a long-dormant deadsuit that has woken up, you will traverse the depths of the desolate moon of Lorian on an adventure to discover who you are. Along the way, you will encounter cosmic threats and ancient mysteries all while acquiring new abilities to crush those standing before you. Will you be able to handle the truth nesting itself in the darkness and overcome?
Ghost Song is by far one of the most beautiful metroidvania games I have played recently. The artwork and atmosphere is pristine, while the combat mechanics felt fantastic. Unfortunately, this was hampered a bit by the amount of backtracking and lack of enough fast travel points. I liked going through and seeing the serene underground as I ran through, it felt tedious with the amount I had to do. I also felt the save points were a bit sparse, which made itself apparent the more I played and constantly died, losing hours of progress (some of this was me forgetting to save). The movement system felt a little static at times too, but it didn't inhibit my enjoyment. Overall, I felt this was a great game and I was absolutely having a great time playing this, and with some tweaking, this was a wonderful experience on the Steam Deck!
In the beginning, I noticed the game defaulted to a 16:9 aspect ratio of 1280x720, which is fine, but was draining the battery around 14W - 15W, which I felt was a bit high considering Ghost Song is a 2D game. It was able to handle 60 FPS for the most part, but I noticed that in some areas, and when some particle effects were happening, the game would spike and drain way more battery than it should. Luckily, just a couple setting changes actually capped the game at 13W, while also expanding the resolution to cover the entire 16:10 screen.
By going into the preferences of the game and using Steam to force the resolution to 1024x640, Ghost Song had not only covered the entire screen of the Deck, but also saved a significant amount of battery life while keeping 60 FPS. Using a TDP limit of 7, the game stuck at 60 FPS and kept a battery drain of 13W or under. I also used FSR to upscale the game and compared to the native 1280x720, it looks significantly better!
While I could make a battery build that pushes framerate or resolution down further, I feel this hurts the overall experience of the game. Any lower framerate makes the game feel much less smooth and, while it could be brought down to 55 and still feel mostly smooth, it felt something was off when I was playing it. And resolution down further would help battery too, but start to lose too much quality that it doesn't need to. A quality build for Ghost Song would be just bumping up the framerate and unlocking the TDP limit.
From time to time, in certain areas, I did encounter a little stuttering. This really only happened when I was running around areas and not in combat, which I am thankful for, but it still happened enough for me to notice. Since it wasn't during my fights, I didn't feel it really affected my enjoyment of the game since it held strong where it counts! I also didn't find any controller issues or visual bugs, it just fit perfectly in the handheld format.
While a lack of save points and a lot of backtracking with a more static movement system was plaguing the game, the pros outweighed the cons. The vibrant and beautiful visuals, the fantastic atmosphere, and great combat system all worked together really well to create a wonderful experience I am happy to have played. And with these adjustments, Ghost Song plays extremely well on the Steam Deck.
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Tunic is a top-down isometric action game reminiscent of the good old Zelda days. You play as a little fox and explore an island filled to the brim with secrets, treasure, and pages of the game’s manual that you can put together. You will also come across unique enemies and colossal beasts while uncovering new secret techniques and relics. The world is absolutely gorgeous with a colorful, yet simple art style that pops out and pleases the eye at every turn. Paired with a pleasing combat system and a plethora of secrets, Tunic is a game worth discovering.
Luckily for Deck users, Tunic is not an intensive game. The game’s recommended settings were actually the maxed out ones at native resolution, and after some initial testing, I can happily say it will run most of the time at 60 FPS. With temps around 65-70, depending on the area, and battery sticking average around 15W, playing like this is possible, but it can be improved. If you do decide to play at max settings, make sure the TDP is set to 8 as well to avoid it using too much power.
I decided to try to curb these FPS spikes first. Through my testing, it turns out SSAO (Screen Space Ambient Occlusion) was causing most of them. SSAO is used a lot in Tunic and really makes the world pop just a bit more, but turning it off almost instantly fixed most of the spikes. I do believe that SSAO on medium works very well while retaining the quality it gives.
While there is a difference, it didn't affect the overall aesthetic of the game and ran much more smoothly.
I also decided to limit the TDP to make sure it didn’t try to go overboard on power consumption. I landed on using 8 as it kept the game at 60 FPS and temps down to an average of 65. Limiting the TDP did mean some of the graphically intensive areas ended up causing framerate drops to around 45-50, but I remedied that by turning shadows to low (which showed almost no visual difference to me) and brought resolution down to 1152x720. Paired with FSR upscaling and sharpness of 1, the game looked almost exactly the same as native. I did turn off FXAA as well, which made corners of all models look sharper, but I feel it makes the game stand out more with reduced graphical quality.
1280x800 vs 1152x720 really didn't show a significant difference to quality, but did provide a more stable 60 FPS.
It is possible to turn everything off or to low and set the resolution to 960x600 and upscale that to save as much battery as humanly possible while still looking pretty decent. While changing resolution down to 1152x720 didn’t affect the battery as much, going to 960x600 with the same settings did lower it by about 1-2W. This also creates a super stable 60 FPS with almost 0 drops at all. The game still looked quite good for the most part though, but it was obvious that there were some downgrades to it. Turning FXAA off does help tremendously with a lower resolution and FSR though.
1280x800 vs 960x600 definitely showed more of a downgrade in quality, but it wasn't horrible.
Luckily, no bugs or glitches were caught and the game ran smoothly in general. Tunic is a game meant to be played at 60 FPS though, so any drops were quite noticeable. If it wasn’t, I would say the game is 100% playable from maxed settings all-around, but it did hurt my eyes a bit in the areas where there were a lot of SSAO effects on screen and the framerate dropped to 45.
All-in-all, Tunic is a really fun game to play. The gameplay and artstyle mesh together very well, while the stable performance on the Deck make this a wonderful game to take on the go. I didn’t expect it to be a powerhouse game really, but it did perform better than I expected after minimal changes to the settings. Personally, I prefer a sharper look and stable 60 FPS for a game like this, and luckily, it was able to hit that quite easily.
Our review is based on the PC version of this game.
If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for news, tips and tutorials, game settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back!