The Prisoner and Alucard
Image via Motion Twin

Review: Dead Cells – Return to Castlevania Is The Exact Thing Players Want From Beloved Franchises

Is it another DLC worth downloading?

If there’s one thing that I love, it’s when modern development teams can take older IPs and breath brand-new life into the iconic franchises that we know and love. Whether it’s Metroid: Dread, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, or even the Tony Hawk: Pro Skater 1 & 2 games, there’s something to be said about bringing older games to a new or returning audience with a fresh coat of paint.

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And that’s the exact sentiment that players are going to feel the moment that they begin their time with Dead Cells’ all-new DLC expansion; Return to Castlevania. It’s a masterclass in how to bring back a classic IP but with the freshness of a modern game whose mechanics stick the landing. It doesn’t matter if you’re just a Dead Cells fan or a Castlevania fan; this is the DLC you should own if you want to experience something truly magical.

Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania Review Biggest Takeaways

  • The blending of Castlevania and Dead Cells’ gameplay makes for an intensely enjoyable experience.
  • The visuals and audio on display give the Castlevania IP a breath of fresh air for new and returning fans of the franchise.
  • There’s a lot of content for players to unpack over the course of their time with the Return to Castlevania DLC.

Final Score: 10/10

Classic Castlevania Gameplay But With Modern Gaming Appeal

The Prisoner versus a purple Werewolf
Image via Motion Twin

As a child of the 90s, I grew up as Castlevania was in a transformation of sorts. The 2D side-scrolling, non-linear games that my parents had played in the 80s and early 90s were on their way out for the series, and it began to test out 3D action-adventure genre trappings on the Xbox 360 and PS3, before suddenly backing into a shadow of obscurity.

Luckily for gamers, the recent success of 2D side-scrolling roguelites and even a re-emerging hype for Metrodvanias meant that Castlevania would return with one of the sub-genres juggernauts. This seems to have been the match made in heaven for Castlevania, as Dead Cells’ unique gameplay, married with the Castlevania sound and visual aesthetics means that you will literally have a gaming experience unlike any other available right now.

From the moment I began my journey to the castle, I felt as if the clocks rolled back to an alternate timeline where the 80s had even more vivid color to its gaming visuals and deeper buzz to its bumping in-game score. This title really is a feast for the eyes and ears of all who enter it, with popping purples and dark coloring to highlight the gothic sensibilities, as well as the foreboding, iconic Castlevania tracks that all fans love.

As far as gameplay goes, this is the Dead Cells formula through and through, but in the best way. There are many weapons, enemies, and even puzzles ripped directly out of Castlevania games of old, but with an inherently Dead Cells feel to it all. This allows it to feel both familiar and new to returning players of both IPs, as there’s a new learning curve to make the game feel fresh.

All Platforms Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania is Available On

Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania is available at launch for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC for the low price of $9.99. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S versions are going to be the standard backward-compatible ports of the consoles that came before them.

Related: Review: Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is a Solid Throwback

Is Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania Multiplayer?

Unfortunately for those looking for multiplayer capabilities within Dead Cells, the Return to Castlevania DLC expansion does not include this. Because of its focus on tight roguelite gameplay, Dead Cells just hasn’t integrated any sort of multiplayer thus far. Though it isn’t impossible, it’s hard to imagine how this could even work within the confines of Dead Cells’ gameplay.

A Reason to Return to Castlevania

The Prisoner standing at a statue of figures with blood pooling from it.
Image via Motion Twin

It’s hard to ignore the sheer amount of hard work that went into this gorgeously-created new DLC for the beloved Dead Cells title. Return to Castlevania is the jump-start that not only Dead Cells needed in order to get players to start or return in 2023, but it was the thing that Castlevania needed in order to test the waters for fan expectations.

Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania is quite possibly one of the best gaming experiences to come this year, and hopefully, this means that there are plans for a full-length Castlevania game in the works to leave fans’ jaws on the floor. After playing this, I’ll be the first in line to see what Motion Twin has up their sleeve next.


So, now you know our thoughts on the all-new Return to Castlevania DLC for Dead Cells! If you’d like to check out some of our other reviews, then “Review: Scars Above is a Great Blending of Two Stellar Genres” and “Lone Ruin Review: Solid, If Simple” are definitely worth a read. For more content, be sure to like Gamer Journalist on Facebook as well for all of the latest on the games you love!

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Author
Nathaniel Litt
Hi! I'm Nathaniel; Star Wars nerd, musician, and active daydreamer. When it comes to gaming, I'll try anything at least once. My mains though are FPS, Action-Adventure, and Puzzle-Platformers.