What makes Dead Cells’ reveal trailer Damn-Near-Perfect?

I started a new video series today: What makes this trailer Damn-Near-Perfect? Here’s the first episode:


Dead Cells is out today! And I’m there. Why? Because the reveal trailer is damn-near-perfect.

Let’s check it out.

There’s some takeaways from this trailer — that you can reproduce if you’re trying to make one for your own game.

1. First? Establish genre!

If they don’t’ like action games, or “rogue-vanias”, they’re not gonna like this game, and that’s okay, but you’ve got to get there as soon as possible. Qualify your audience.


2. Show your GREATEST HITS!

Dead Cells is a safe place — for you to hit things as hard as you possibly want! You gotta show the chunky-delicious fallout of your interactions! When players see this, they’re like, “Oh, okay! I wanna make these decisions in a game, myself!”

3. Emotional range, PLZ!

This moment with the scene changed to the ramparts — You’ve got to get to the emotional highs and lows. Give your audience some relief from tension. Then, get back to the tension! But make sure that you show the full breadth of emotional range through the journey of your game.

Also, how did they fit a moment of rest in a thirty-second trailer?!?

4. Slow down to get a hurried-up trailer!

Thirty seconds in, and the trailer is done. How did they do that? The irony is that it takes a lot of time, to make a really short trailer. If you can take your time? Do it! It’s worth it.

5. Land on the emotional destination

Let’s just back up for a second (0:19).
Where you land — what emotion you leave the trailer with — that’s how people are going to remember your game.

In this case, that’s TENSION!

Screenshot 2017-05-10 16.38.23

Once again, those key takeaways are:

  1. First: establish genre
  2. Show your Greatest Hits
  3. Emotional Range, PLZ!
  4. Slow down to get that sweet hurried pace
  5. Land on your emotional destination (TENSION!)

I’m M. Joshua. Feel free to subscribe — for the next time we look at a damn-near-perfect trailer.

  • moko

    Love the trailer and love the review! Hoping to see more from you.

    • Thanks so much, Moko. Working on the next episode as we speak! 😀

  • Alfred

    I like that this trailer is musically aware. I don’t mean there is outright Mickey-Mousing; I mean that you see big hits synced with the stings and moodier bits are reserved for moodier phrases. This means while action-related sound effects are played–if they are not used in the game, they at least sound plausibly like they should be–they contribute to a cohesive auditory picture.

    Doesn’t work in every situation, of course. But it works very well here, plus I’m a sucker for it.

    • Absolutely! Yeah, this is why I always prefer having original sound designers jump onto the trailer edits, and custom-compose a piece. Unfortunately, it can elongate production, and many devs don’t have time for it. But when they do it, it’s immediately apparent. So good.

      Thanks for chiming-in!