Review | Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania

Originally published at: Review | Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania - XboxEra

Dead Cells might be the greatest Castlevania game ever made.  That’s my impression after playing the new Return to Castlevania DLC for five or so hours on PC.  The music is fantastic, a staple of the Castlevania series. The new monsters and loot look and feel great.  Almost all of the big names from the Konami classic show up in-game or through a dozen+ outfits.  Motion Twin has made one of my favorite games of all time even better.

Dead Cells X Castlevania

DLC reviews tend to be short so I’ll get right to it.  This expansion costs $9.99, which is double the norm for Dead Cells.  It is absolutely worth every penny if you love the base game, whether you care about Castlevania or not.  The new weapons, enemy types, areas, and bosses are all excellent.  There are five new biomes in total:

  • Castle’s Outskirts
  • Dracula’s Castle
  • Defiled Necropolis (first boss area)
  • Master’s Keep (main boss area)
  • Richter Mode which changes up Dracula’s Castle

There are ten new mobs, two mini-bosses, and the main man himself Dracula.  The expansion is expertly weaved into the flow of a Dead Cells run.  The first time you load up the new DLC you’ll be met by Richter Belmont, follow the bats and you’ll enter the Castle’s Outskirts and the music pulls you in with all its beautiful nostalgia.  Hell, even if you don’t care for Castlevania and know nothing about it the music is so damned good that I found myself bopping along to it.  Each area gets its own track and they’re all fantastic. There are a lot of new weapons with six new melee weapons, three ranged, one shield (you know which one), and three new powers. They’re all callbacks to the series and fit perfectly with the enormous amount of content available in Dead Cells now if you own all of the DLC. Finishing things off content-wise are 20 new outfits to find and unlock.  Alucard, Simon, Richter, Sypha, Dracula, and over a dozen more are available to unlock as new looks. 

The DLC itself is broken up into two parts essentially.  After defeating the first mini-boss you’ll be tasked with doing a typical run of the game and heading for a specific zone.  That zone is changed up to match the DLC and it looks sick.  A lot of work went into this and all of it is Dead Cells at its best. The control scheme swap for Richter mode took some getting used to and activating him only happens late in a run.  He’s weak to start so you’ll need to clear out the Castle thoroughly to get him ready to finish off Vlad Țepeș once and… for now. The only negative is if you do not have any late-game save file, or at least one with the base abilities unlocked it will be a while before you can ever reach Dracula. 

Wrapping Things Up

Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania is the dream DLC I never knew I wanted for one of my favorite games of the past decade.  It’s full of content that is all of supremely high quality. Whether you own the game outright or play it on Game Pass if any of this sounds the least bit appealing then spend $10 on this expansion.  It is phenomenal.


I don’t even see a store page for this, Im a real slut for Castlevania


I played a bit of Dead Cells a few years back and enjoyed it but fell off. It’s hazily been on my to-play list for a while but the stars never really aligned. This is a great excuse to go back and give the base game a fair shot. Thanks for your review, Jesse.


Need to get back to this masterpiece

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I really appreciate DLC reviews and reviews of smaller games for that matter. It’s an often overlooked thing, but very important.



Looks fantastic

This is probably the wrong place to ask, but might as well try:

I tried and liked Dead Cells quite a bit and went to the store on my XSX to check out the price. Saw there was a nice bundle that included all DLC (“Medley of Pain”) but when I hovered over the “buy” option, a little pop-up said something along the lines of “This can’t be played on the hardware you’re using”. I’ve never seen the likes of this before.

Weird, I thought, so I went to check it on my browser and it seems that that same bundle is available and is “Playable on XBO|X|S”. I guess my question is what the heck, and has anybody bought this and found out it’s PC only or something?

I think its a bug from the last store update they did last week, i’ve noticed it pop up a few times while i was looking at various DLCs one of which i already own and works

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As Baron says it’s a bug, game works fine on xbox one and series consoles.

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Yeah it’ a bug. Weird af, comes and goes with updates for years now.


Thanks everybody, sorry for the derail!

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I was torn on Dead Cells, originally. Everything was fun about it other than the souls like twitching, dodging, and easy one-hit deaths making one start a run from the beginning.

After this review, I went back to the game (after getting all DLC on discount) and found they added in a TON of accessibility options. I’m very happy with the game, now!


It is one of the deepest games out there now, the amount of content in it is staggering yet it never feels overwhelming because you control where you go at all times.