Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania DLC Review – Night of Your Life

Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania DLC Review – Night of Your Life

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Xbox Series, Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PS4, Sony PS5, Apple iPhone, Android, Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania DLC

Publisher: Motion Twin

Developer: Motion Twin, Evil Empire

Genre: Action

Release Date: March 6th, 2023

ESRB Rating: T For Teen

Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania DLC by Motion Twin & Evil Empire

Dead Cells has never been shy about its primary inspiration. Proudly touting itself as a Rogue-like take on the Metroidvania format, it has ridden that twist on a beloved genre to fame and fortune. However, with the Return to Castlevania DLC, they’ve been given an opportunity few indies get: to incorporate the franchise that started it all back into their own game.

A daunting task, to say the least, one that lesser developers might buckle under. Thank the powers of darkness that Motion Twin and Evil Empire aren’t lesser developers. This DLC absolutely rules.

I Bid You Welcome

Return to Castlevania weaves itself seamlessly into the existing Dead Cells experience. The two areas added by it, the Castle Outskirts and Dracula’s Castle, act as additional branching paths along a typical run. It’s effectively a similar experience to the game’s previous DLC, such as The Queen and the Sea.

At face value, the DLC can effectively be described as more Dead Cells but with a Castlevania theme. The monsters are all updated takes on franchise staples like Skeletons and Armor Knights, and weapons like the Cross and Holy Water feature prominently. There are also plenty of Easter eggs to find that are sure to please ‘Vania fanatics like myself that I dare not spoil here. Oh, and of course, the final battle with Dracula is suitably familiar and grandiose.

However, it cannot be stressed enough that this DLC is more than just a nostalgia trip. The new areas and gear all manage to feel distinct from existing ones while still evoking their past selves. Even familiar characters like Richter Belmont and Alucard maintain Dead Cells’ trademark dry sense of humor. It’s no small task to both pay tribute to something while also making it feel fresh and like it fits into a modern experience, and the developers should be applauded for pulling it off.

What Music They Make

This is all to say nothing of just how lavish the production on Return to Castlevania feels. Motion Twin and Evil Empire’s art teams have gone all out on the design of this DLC, with the backgrounds and monster designs taking Dead Cells’ already lavish style to a whole other level. I genuinely could not get over just how fantastic the whole thing looks.

Not to be outdone, composer Yoann Laulan adds his own signature bouzouki-laden flair to plenty of classic franchise tunes. The heavy hitters are all there, and I guarantee you’ll be humming along to tracks like Vampire Killer even if you’ve never heard them before. I’m already counting the days ’til the soundtrack release.

Return to Castlevania is a prime example of what you get when a talented set of developers go all out on a labor of love. It’s a fantastic addition to an already stellar game, plain and simple. Even if you’re not already a fan of Castlevania, I guarantee you will be once the credits roll. Welcome to our castle. Go freely, come safely.

Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania is available via the Nintendo Game Store, PlayStation Store, Xbox Live, Apple Store, Google Play Store, and Steam.

Watch the trailer for Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania below: