Dead Cells: Immortalis – We saw the animated series in its entirety, here is our opinion

Given the studio's undeniable talent, whether in terms of animation or direction, the announcement of a series dedicated to Motion Twin's Roguelite/Metroidvania was welcomed with open arms. The first five episodes of Dead Cells: Immortalis will be broadcast this June 19, 2024 on the streaming platform Animation Digital Network (or DNA). We were able to watch the 10 episodes planned on the platform and despite an initial disappointment in terms of form compared to our expectations, the series ultimately turns out to be a good surprise.

What we “suspect”

If we rely on the trailers produced by Bobbypillswe were expecting a fairly silent series retracing the major events of the game with slick and slightly offbeat animation, where our headless hero would bang the pan all over the place while trying to escape the island. The teaser, broadcast a year ago, seemed to go in this direction as the aesthetic was almost identical to previous productions for the game.

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However, Dead Cells: Immortalis takes a surprising turn. He favors writing rich in gags and dialogues to take us on an essentially comic adventure, but still allowing for a few moments of seriousness and emotion. Unlike the game where you play a determined and silent headless immortal, the series highlights a very dynamic duo of heroes. We obviously find the protagonist of the roguelite, called here “Flame Head”, but also a new character: Laure Esposito.

This young woman is a member of a cult called “the guardians of truth”. This group aims to fight “discontent”, a mysterious illness which gradually transforms citizens into monsters, by finding the chosen one of the prophecy capable of defeating the king at the origin of the scourge. Through a combination of circumstances, Laure discovers the chosen one in the depths of a dungeon, but he does not correspond to the heroic image that she had imagined. Cynical, immature, and clumsy, this chosen one only aspires to find a way to die. Faithful to her cult and incapable of lying, Laure nevertheless chooses to break her oath to save the world.

A duo united like the five fingers of the king's hand

Especially for those who played the original game, Dead Cells: Immortalis takes a bold turn by substantially revisiting the lore, which was rather cryptic in Dead Cells, which focused above all on its gameplay. Even if, for our part, watching the series made us want to relaunch the game, we feel that Bobbypills has taken over the universe to offer another vision, far from the simple promotion of the license and which will not necessarily speak to fans of the game. This interpretation, rich in humor, is carried by a dynamic duo with excellent chemistry.

At first hostile towards each other, over time they develop a deep and sincere friendship. This dynamic is carried by a fairly minimalist animation which may disappoint some. The lines are much less detailed and the colors have nothing to do with the studio's previous work for the indie game. Even the character designs, like the janitor (one of the first bosses), differ significantly from the original. However, this does not prevent it from having moments of grace with quite pretty shots and well-executed key sequences. This artistic choice (apart from budget constraints) above all allows the series to have a lot of movement and to keep a good rhythm. This is all the more appropriate given the length of the episodes, which are approximately 8 minutes.

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Aside from one episode which “skillfully” recycles numerous passages, the animation, although not aesthetically shimmering, is quite rich and full of references to pop culture and includes some subtle political satires (which is somehow consistent being given that the game is also full of references to the big names in video games). The whole thing is skillfully balanced and fits in quite well with the rather zany narrative. For example, one episode is directly inspired by the “Greed Island” arc of Hunter X Hunterand one of the villains adopts Peter Griffin's famous “Death Pose” from Family Guy. Nevertheless, Dead Cells: Immortalis maintains a coherent plot, knowing how to alternate between seriousness and lightness. However, without giving more details so as not to spoil the plot, the end of the last episode left us with a feeling of incomprehension.

A VF that has the sacred fire

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The effectiveness of this short, fast-paced series is also due to the fact that Dead Cells: Immortalis is a French production, which means that the dubbing in the language of Molière is not a work of adaptation but of creation. The writing and all the humorous elements are expressed perfectly through the voices of the different characters. Among the notable talents, we find Bruno Magne (Vash the Stampede in TrigunBeerus in Dragon Ball Super) and Martial Le Minoux (Professor Layton, Roy Mustang in FullMetal AlchemistRichard Aldana in Lastman), impeccable in their roles as villains.

However, we especially salute the performances of Gérémy Crédeville and Alizée Laffitau who brilliantly bring our duo to life. The actress is particularly talented in her role as Laure, skillfully navigating between the nuances of her character who is sometimes irascible, funny, and sincere. With Gaspard Sumeire directing, those who appreciated The Kasos will find familiar echoes in the tone of the series (with a little less trash all the same). The soundtrack also proves to be up to par with pieces more in line with the atmosphere of the game and we are not only talking about the credits which take up Prisoner's Awakening by Yoann Laulan (Valmont).

Bobbypills took a bold gamble with this animated adaptation of Dead Cells which won't necessarily speak to fans of the game, unless they're open to exploring a radically different vision of the universe. Despite this, Dead Cells: Immortalis managed to captivate us with its humorous adventure, carried by a particularly endearing duo. Some might not like the stylistic departure in terms of animation, but it fits perfectly with the pace and tone the creators wanted. Ultimately, we advise you to give it a chance as it is appreciable and quite expeditious. We hope to see a season 2 in the future.

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