I’m probably not alone when I say that I can’t get enough Dead Cells. The excellent roguelike has been a mainstay on my PC and Switch since it released. I even have an arcade cabinet in my apartment that runs it. Whether I’m jumping in for a random run or checking out its excellent Return to Castlevania DLC, I’m always down for more of its 2D action formula. Of course, there’s only so much of it I can play, especially as developer Motion Twin gets to work on its next game, Windblown.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to fill that gap, even if its a temporary fix. Trinity Fusion is a new roguelike by Angry Mob Games that exits early access today and sticks very close to the Dead Cells playbook. It has players hacking their way through 2D environments, building a character with temporary boosts each run, and nabbing some permanent abilities with acquired currencies. Though its not as rich with secrets and certainly doesn’t look as striking, its worth digging into for anyone itching for another game that’ll have them saying “one more run” for hours.
Trinity Fusion replaces the crunchy pixel art fantasy of Dead Cells with something smoother and more futuristic — it’s as if Angry Mob Games dipped its inspiration in chrome. Players are dropped into a sci-fi story that vaguely involves the multiverse. It’s a whole lot of mumbo jumbo (the 1.0 update adds even more story for those who love lore logs). Rather than going with a pixel art style like some of its peers, Trinity Fusion uses smoother three-dimensional visuals. It winds up looking like a less polished version of Metroid Dread with flat world and character designs. Though that’s a bit dull, it does at least bake in some excellent, atmospheric tunes that sound like they could have been pulled out of a 2D Metroid game.
Combat won’t feel too complicated for anyone familiar with the genre. There’s a basic attack button for melee strikes, but not much flexibility tin terms of what players can do with a sword or short claws. I can’t really perform effective upward or downward strikes and my aerial attacks feel limited too. A permanent upgrade tree adds a few extra moves, like a ground pound, but the basics of striking are a bit one-note. I just have to hope I find a weapon with some great perks — like a fast blade that can inflict poison on enemies or stun them. The more enemies I fight, the more my power level rises, which means I have a better chance of getting those weapons in random drops.
Fortunately, there’s a bit more to battling. I start with a secondary ranged weapon, which uses energy. This can be as simple as a projectile boomerang shot or a massive laser blast. To regain energy, I need to strike my enemies with my primary weapon. That creates a natural flow in battle that encourages me to go on the offensive rather than wait for my powerful, safe attacks to charge up. Consumable powers like barriers or dash strikes give me more choices during runs, as there’s a bit of resource management to juggle as I move through increasingly difficult 2D biomes.
Other ideas are a bit less developed. The game’s namesake fusion system has me paying coins to combine two of the story’s three playable heroes during runs. It’s not as exciting a gimmick as it sounds; doing so mostly just gives me access to an extra attack (if it does much else, that’s never clearly explained). Though that’s a letdown, Trinity Fusion makes up for it with a wealth of upgrades available during a run.
Its most inspired idea has players sometimes choosing between three perks, each of which is in a different category. Some are healing-focused, while others may be focused on critical damage. Pick enough of one type and players will unlock a bonus perk in that upgrade tree. Some upgrade stations even offer split perks, which combine two of those categories into one special buff. Once I got deep into that system, that’s where I started to get hooked. There’s a lot of room for experimental builds when choosing random perks. My most successful run had me constantly gaining health back through critical damage, and I’d upgrade my power and chance of those occurring too. I nearly beat my first run just a few hours in with that setup, striking down robotic bosses with ease.
Trinity Fusion doesn’t do anything too new or special for the roguelike genre, but that doesn’t matter too much. It delivers a perfectly solid action game with plenty of permanent upgrades to work toward, making no run feel wasted. Considering that Angry Mob has been toiling away at it in early access already, I’m hoping the studio has a bit more support left in the tank post-launch. It may not steal my heart away from a game like Dead Cells, but I’ll be happy to keep it installed on my Steam Deck as long as there’s a little more to tinker with.
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