Dead Cells Return To Castlevania review

Dead Cells is back with their latest DLC, and it’s somewhat of a dream collaboration for fans – this is Dead Cells Return to Castlevania. If you look at Dead Cells and Castlevania side-by-side, then you will most likely see the inspiration Dead Cells has taken from the world inhabited by Simon Belmont and Dracula. We have new weapons, biomes, enemies and upgrades in this latest DLC pack, and today I’m going to check it out and bring you my thoughts.

One good part about this Dead Cells DLC is that you can jump right in from the start. Previously DLCs had you running through levels, trying to find the entry point to the DLC, but not this time. Richter Belmont is standing there in the Prisoner’s Quarters, and all you need to do to jump into the Castlevania DLC is climb the stairs to a new door, which is going to take you Dracula’s castle. The objective then is to breach the castle’s grounds, bust into the castle itself and defeat the the most famous Vampire in the world. We don’t have to do it alone as we’ll have Maria Renard and Alucard along for the journey, but Dracula has brought some allies too including Medusa and Death himself.

This new DLC content is only a few hours long, depending on your experience with the franchise. While it’s short in terms of time, it’s dense with regard to the content, plus you can keep the items you pick up and take them into the rest of your run. We have the classic whip, which is instantly recognisable for any Catslevania fan, plus Werewolves and Armour Knights. There are nods to various Castlevania games from the series including weapons like Holy Water and the Throwing Axe, as well as new weapons including Medusa’s Head and Death’s Scythe. As well as the new weapons we have cosmetics that allow us to look like Simon Belmont or Alucard.

There are tons of smaller references to Castlevania in here too, woven deep into the fabric of the game. Our vendor, The Collector, has been replaced by Shanoa from Order of Ecclesia. There are stylistic design choices inspired by Rondo of Blood including the title cards for new areas. The DLC is largely inspired by Symphony of the Night (probably the best Castlevania game), although fans of the series won’t be disappointed by the number of references to other games.

Visually the DLC looks very good, with Dead Cells taking on the appearence of Castlevania. It still feels distinctly like Dead Cells, but with that Castlevania layer on top. The visuals do a great job of hitting you with nostalgia, and then the music kicks in with new versions of ‘Vampire Killer’ or ‘Bloody Tears’. You can also change the music back to the 8-bit versions if you really want to.

While the game looks like Castlevania, it feels just like Dead Cells always has felt. Yes, we have new weapons and a new coat of paint, but this is still a sharp action platformer, with great feeling combat, much like it’s always felt. Dead Cells is arguably one of the best indie games out there, and this collaboration is only going to raise the reputation of this fantastic indie game.

My one criticism of the DLC is that is simply too short. I would love to see a full game like this, a new Castlevania entry by the developers of Dead Cells, Motion Twin. Return to Castlevania DLC is a nice detour from your main path in Dead Cells and it gives you a momentary hit of nostalgia. The weapons, environment, items, enemies and skins all look great, but I want to spend more time here.

Overall, I’d recommend Dead Cells Return to Castlevania DLC to fans of both games; Dead Cells and Castlevania. It’s more Dead Cells, of course, but it’s probably the best version of Dead Cells we’ve seen. It’s highly likely Castlevania fans played Dead Cells the first time round, given the original franchise inspired Dead Cells in the first place. My only caution would be the price, this is the most expensive Dead Cells DLC, coming in at around £9. Personally, I think it’s good value for money, and I don’t mind giving Motion Twin my money for this DLC because it’s been lovingly crafted and it plays great. However, looking at the length of the content vs the price it’s on the edge of being too expensive. If that’s not something you are concerned with them I’d say go ahead and dive right in.