Dead Cells' The Bad Seed DLC is a must for new players

(Image credit: Motion Twin)

There are many sewers in games, but few are as pretty as the pixelly catacombs of Dead Cells' $5 The Bad Seed expansion. I was so busy admiring the depths of the new Arboretum zone that I didn't notice a giant mushroom man throwing one of his mushroom children at my face. With a hissing flurry of blows I disintegrated the kid with my lightning whip. Moments later, once I'd leapt the gap down to his platform, Dad of the Year was dead too. I have missed this game.

The Arboretum is one of two new zones (and a boss room for the new boss). They look beautiful, and they are swarming with five new enemies types designed to delight you and then destroy you. In the Arboretum you will find those big mushroom, called Yeeters. They can detect you from quite a distance, and there always seem to be a few little Jerkshrooms nearby to throw at you. If you're lucky a Jerkshroom will drop 'Mushroom Boi!'—a power that lets you deploy a Jerkshroom of your own to charge enemies.

The other zone is the gloomy but gorgeous Morass of the Banished. In both zones the devs have included particularly detailed layered backgrounds that hint at much wider landscapes beyond. The Morass of the Banished is set in a swamp between the roots of enormous trees that stretch into the distance. The villages there are inhabited by blowgun enemies that can hop through walls away from you. The Banished lurk on the ceilings, waiting to drop and combo you with their spears.

Dead Cells' procedurally generated zones are shuffled like a deck of cards before each run, offering you varied routes to the end. The Bad Seed expansion shuffles both new biomes into the deck very early.

For veterans that spices up replays, but I think the DLC will seem even more novel if you're an entirely new player taking your first swipe at this fantastic combat roguelike. You need a couple of runes—permanent character upgrades that give you traversal powers—but you can find them in the first few areas, if you explore thoroughly. Even this unlock process feels good. Dead Cells' mazes are full of secrets these days, and the more hidden extras the developers add, the richer the world seems.

(Image credit: Motion Twin)

New weapons and a new boss fight complete the package. I'm still battling towards the monster lurking in The Nest, accessible from the Morass of the Banished, and I have yet to discover most of the weapons myself, but I'm looking forward to the introduction of a new archetype: a double handed weapon. You equip the Scythe Claws to both weapon slots, and combo between them to generate critical hits.

The Scythe suggests that Evil Empire and Motion Twin still have plenty of new ideas for Dead Cells. Since launch the Rise of the Giant DLC added a similar amount of new features for free, but the price for Bad Seed seems reasonable to me given how much the game has expanded since leaving Early Access. Plus you can get it in a bundle if you're buying the game new.

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.