Dead Cells has finally arrived on mobile, providing us with a meaty adventure to dig our teeth into no matter where we are or what we’re doing. In a world where most games are completely free though, is Dead Cells worth paying for? That’s what we’re here to decide.

We’re not going to repeat what the many other reviews have stated before though: Dead Cells is an absolutely fantastic souls-like metroidvania that provides crunchy action, deep exploration, and a meaty upgrade system. What we’re here to decide is how well it plays on mobile.

Sadly, it’s not all good news, with the Dead Cells formula not translating particularly comfortably to the touchscreen. Ultimately, there are just far too many tiny buttons to press, and it can be difficult to pull off the various different manoeuvres in the heart of combat.

In terms of controls, you slide your thumb around the left of the screen to use the virtual joystick and the right houses your various different buttons. This includes interact, jump, dodge, attack, two special attack, and a secondary attack buttons. That’s a lot of small tiny buttons to accidentally hit while participating in combat.

Dead Cells’s Touch Controls Aren’t Great, and it Makes an Already Challenging Game Even More So

You can mitigate the need for buttons slightly in the options menu, where you can make attacking automatic and introduce a swipe to dodge. It’s still not perfect though, and we were begging for more intuitive controls. Why can’t we swipe up to jump and down to drop to a lower platform, for example? Right now, it’s far too fiddly to to have to hold down on the virtual joystick and tap the jump button to drop a platform when you’re in the middle of combat.

There’s also no need for the interact button to appear on the screen at all times. Given how annoying virtual controls are, we’re all for games that use context sensitivity to ensure that only buttons you’re going to press appear on the screen at any given time.

Fortunately, you can mitigate all of these problems by connecting a controller, which provides an experience on par with the console versions of the game. This is the ideal way to play Dead Cells, particularly during the more difficult later stages that make playing with the touchscreen alone very difficult.

In terms of performance, Dead Cells is flawless. It looks fantastic on both the iPad or smaller iPhone screen and runs like a dream. If you need to save battery power or have an older device you can lock it to 30fps too. We couldn’t test the game on devices older than 2018 iOS models though, so can’t speak to the performance.

In Terms of Performance, Dead Cells is Pretty Flawless on Mobile

So should you buy Dead Cells on mobile? That ultimately depends on whether or not you have a controller. If you do, it’s a no brainer. This remains an absolutely fantastic metroidvania experience and having the ability to take it anywhere with you is a joy.

If you don’t have a controller though, your mileage with it may vary. It’s a very challenging and complex game from the get-go, and the virtual controls don’t really do it any favours. It needs a total rework in the control department if it’s going to function as comfortably with just a touchscreen as it does on controller.