Dead Cells, developed by Motion Twin, is a roguelike-metroidvania hybrid game that was created using the Haxe programming language. It doesn't utilize one of the mainstream engines like Unity or Unreal, but rather it's built on top of the open-source Haxe framework called Heaps.io.
Heaps.io is a high performance cross-platform graphics engine which can compile to various targets, including HTML5, mobile, and desktop applications, making it a versatile choice for game development. It's known for its ability to handle high-performance rendering, which is evident in the smooth gameplay and detailed pixel art graphics of Dead Cells.
The choice of using the Heaps engine allowed Motion Twin to fully leverage their expertise in Haxe (a language they had been using for years) and create a highly optimized game; Dead Cells received critical acclaim particularly for its fluid combat and challenging gameplay.
For those interested in exploring Heaps.io, here is a simple example of initializing a display window using this engine:
To compile a Heaps.io project, developers set up their environment with Haxe and the necessary libraries. They then write the game code in Haxe, using Heaps' classes and functions to manage graphics, input, audio, and other game systems.
Developing a game like Dead Cells requires not just selecting an appropriate game engine, but also understanding the various tools and languages that can bring the creative vision to life. The success of Dead Cells showcases how choosing less traditional routes in game development can still lead to high-quality and commercially successful games.