I was lead game designer and lead developer on Dead Cells.
The concept is born from the ashes of Hordes Zero, a multiplayer tower defense game for web & mobile, featuring coopetition (play together, but only the last survivor gets a reward). This early project even had a public Alpha version, but it proved to be a really big failure: not fun, no clear vision and tons of gameplay & balance issues.
We basically decided to cut every single aspect of the project that we were not confident with: mobile, cross-platform, multiplayer and last but not least, tower-defense.
This was a “last chance” move to save the project (and the company, we were not in a great shape) from obliteration. It was also the moment we decided to go “all-in” on Steam & PC, which was something completely new for us.
The final product is quite different from the original idea as you can see ;) We decided to call it a Roguevania, because it sounded cool, it was quite close to the actual game concept and because no one could stop us from doing stupid things.
One would say this change from Tower Defense to Roguevania was a good move, as the final game sold more than 2.5M units on all platforms and even won the Best Action Game award, during the Game Awards in 2018.