What a killer year for roguelikes: Former Dead Cells developers are now competing against each other with 3 great-looking action games

Tenjutsu | Reveal Trailer - YouTube Tenjutsu | Reveal Trailer - YouTube
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Let's put aside Hades 2 as the obvious juggernaut of the roguelike world at the moment and reflect on the embarrassment of riches spewing forth from France in 2024. Right now we have not one, not two, but three wholly distinct but spiritually similar action roguelikes coming from folks who created, developed, or expanded Dead Cells, one of the most celebrated action games of the last seven-ish years. 

First announced was Dead Cells development studio Motion Twin's next game, Windblown. It's not out yet, but I got an hour-long look at it that was extremely promising. Then came The Rogue Prince of Persia from Evil Empire, the studio that took over maintaining and pumping out quality DLC for Dead Cells for several years running. It's currently in early access, and we quite liked what played of it. Finally, during a Devolver Direct presentation today, former lead Dead Cells designer Sébastien Benard unveiled Tenjutsu, a brawler with big crunchy pixel art that reminds me of Celeste mashed up with Hotline Miami.

What a treat, to have developers so clearly good at making action games all delivering different evolutions of their previous project. With Windblown, Motion Twin is going 3D and focusing on co-op play; Evil Empire is leaning into platforming with the acrobatic prince; and Benard's studio Deepknight Games is clearly all about selling the impact (and hit stop) of 2D punches in tight spaces.

I say these three games are competing, but I don't mean that in a "there can be only one winner" sort of way. Each of these games is clearly going for something different within the action roguelike space. People who loved Dead Cells may love all three of these games, but one of them will probably resonate the most.

Windblown | Gameplay Trailer - YouTube Windblown | Gameplay Trailer - YouTube
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For me I expect it'll be Windblown, because I almost always prefer playing in co-op with a friend or two when I can. But the 3D perspective may make that one an instant pass for someone else, while the platforming or brawling of Rogue Prince of Persia or Tenjutsu are entirely their jam.

Tenjutsu doesn't have a date yet, while Windblown is out sometime later in 2024; The Rogue Prince of Persia will likely be in early access until mid-2025. Once they're all out there, it's going to be fun to dissect each of them more deeply to see where they carried on ideas from Dead Cells and where they struck out in completely different directions.

The Rogue Prince of Persia: Early Access Launch Trailer - YouTube The Rogue Prince of Persia: Early Access Launch Trailer - YouTube
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Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).