Dead Cells gets even tougher with The Brutality Update


Dead Cells was a tough game to begin with, and apparently the “RogueVania action-platformer” is getting even more brutaler. The Brutal Update adds new levels, abilities, weapons and enemies as well as a re-working of the upgrade system. It’s designed to make your choices harder, you see, putting more demand on both your fingers and your decision making skills. The early access update is live for anyone who buys the newly-launched GOG version, though owners of the Steam version will have to wait until Tuesday.

There’s a trailer below that shows it all off.

I’m excited about wall jumping in particular. There was a point with Dead Cells where it properly clicked for me, and I could start sprinting and sliding my way through the levels rather than slowly creeping forward. It now feels like it’s been designed to play that way, especially since they added a speed boost for killing multiple enemies in quick succession. The wall jumping looks like it should feed into that, making traversing each level an even speedier, slicker experience. Doubly so once I find that flying magic carpet item.

As for that upgrade system, it used to be the case that you’d find scrolls that let you choose to upgrade either your health (green), weapon damage (red) or skill damage/cooldowns (purple). They found that players would simply choose the weapon damage one each time (though personally I’d always go for a mix), so they’ve given the system an overhaul. Those type of upgrade scrolls are now rarer, and determine the stats of items in a different way. Green now both increases your health and the effectiveness of shields, while red increases your health by a little bit but substantially increases the effectiveness of weapons.

You can find all the details of what’s changed and what’s been added in the patch notes. In the meantime, enjoy this gif.

Alex Wiltshire recently spoke to the Dead Cells team about how weapon builds became one of the game’s defining features, which also goes into a little more detail about the reasoning behind the changes to the upgrade system.

The update is live now on the GOG version of the game, which just released with a 25% discount – it can be yours for £10.49. It’s not out until Tuesday for the Steam version.


  1. Kamestos says:

    I found the game already a bit too hard before…

    • Vilos Cohaagen says:

      Me too. I stopped playing because I found it frustrating. Pretty game, though as an older gamer these days I don’t have the time to try optimise my ability in a gane beyond a certain level (even if I could). But that’s ok as I was never the target player and I knew that.

      Still I got a good amount of fun from the game before I hit a wall. I also love the soundtrack.

  2. zeep says:

    Same here, it’s hard. At least with the current upgrade system i can put the force where i want it. I can do different runs, choosing different weapons and strenght or health etc.

    I think with this update the game will limit strategies.

    I hope that i’m wrong.

    • LexW1 says:

      The literal entire objective of this update was to de-limit valid strategies.

      The devs were finding virtually everyone who was good at the game (with no insult to anyone else) was going hell-for-leather for weapon damage upgrades.

      They discussed it in the linked RPS article: link to

      So the idea is to make there be more valid builds – this article is slightly misleading, as the upgrades work in a somewhat more complicated way than described (I suspect the patch notes can I explain better than I). They will put some limits on valid builds, but the overall number of valid builds should be a great deal higher.

      Should be! We’ll see. I’m sure the devs will iterate if not.

      • zeep says:

        Thanks for explaining it. I read that article, i think i was also complaining a bit there :).

        Guess we will see soon enough. I’m not opting in the beta btw.

  3. clockworkrat says:

    That’s a shame. Guess it’s coming off my wishlist.

    • LexW1 says:

      I seriously doubt it will make it noticeably harder. I know some people find it hard, but fundamentally, it’s just a game about finding your groove, and it is absolutely not a “punishing” game.

      If you’ve not played it, I’m curious as to why an update making it an arbitrary amount harder (relative to a value you don’t even know) would put you off?

      • DrJ3RK says:

        I agree 100%. It’s not an easy game, but it’s very fair overall. Sure, occasionally you’ll find a situation that’s fairly ridiculous, but you just keep going. It takes a little while to find sweet spots, nice weapon and skill combos, but there are quite a few in the game, even before this update. I found that I played quite a bit differently than most of the people I’ve come across in forums. (different weapon choices, different favorite skills, etc.) The developers seem very intent on improving the balance of the game, and not just to make it as hard as possible.

        I highly recommend picking it up even in Early Access. I’ve played somewhere around 30-40 hours at this point, and look forward to playing more with large updates like this one.

        I had taken some time off of it to play through Sundered (which is another I very much recommend by the way).

      • Sunburn2ashes says:

        Harder doesn’t even begin to describe it. I have never found the game easy but have had the ability with time to overcome whatever was put before me . That is until this update. It is a big shift in favour of the environment and the terrors lurking within. They nerfed everything now if you wish to choose your style of play you will be lacking in the other areas instead of all three complementing one another
        For example. Choose brutality you gain a pathetic 7% HP bonus on a starting level of 100 health . Even if you could direct every single scroll stat point into 1 stat it isn’t enough. You try to build one way and the game will stop you and throw scrolls opposite to what you are building.
        Weapons and the synergies are purposely mismatched so you don’t get an all conquering build. Like a frost grenade + bonus effect pours oil on enemy which you know is for the fire grenade so you pick up a fire grenade and bonus is 100% damage on poisoned victims. Lucky you got 1 synergy but it is weak and a very low damage bonus.
        The levels change from softly softly to carnage in one biome to the next. Awkward in the first few but completely do-able and anything that caused you angst was probably your own fault. Fjord also do-able but it is a damage check all the way through. Nothing you do will alter the outcome. teleporting worms hidden in moth balls on every wall will burst as you pass by and chip away at your health whilst your trying to fend off cannon balls from above and the rest of nasty streets ugly inhabitants. this is the last area for a decent build boost but so many of the rooms are now used for keys and exits that you pick up very little maybe 2 scrolls
        Now you enter the clock tower It is like the fjord but x5 the difficulty with 50% less space to manouver and about 3 times as long to complete. Everything in there can kill you in a second if you stand and duke it out you will die. Your option is to roll jump and mash skill buttons that you never invested in and rely on health lasting that is too low to start with. If you chose survivability you may last the level but you cannot fight anything because you don’t have a damage output to make any headway against ultra tanky mobs. Same for tactics you’re just not powerful enough . It feels like you are gimping through with half a build.
        Wow congratulations you made it to the assassin A female ninja that has quicker reactions than a F1 driver that has a regenerating HP pool that is huge to begin with x60 of yours . Pre-empts every move you make. Disappears when you swing to hit. Grabs from afar as your swinging ,padlocks you and bashes the granny out of you and if that isn’t enough to send stars spinning around your head. She blurts out “ok funs over lets get serious and finish this” WTF!!! Now all hell breaks loose with an assault from above as well as her attacks. daggers,lightning columns of rocks. The getguds will spout the same message over and over. all you need to do is learn her patterns as if it was childsplay. Many like the difficulty being near impossible but there goes the fun. Options are taken away and now you must play as the devs intended. The ego boys will just say getgud and stop crying!
        Was very enjoyable even in the many defeats you always felt victory was around the corner. Brutal update not a hope in hell uninstalled and never want to pick it up again such is the bad taste it left. Poor choices made by the devs pandering to the elite gamers . If you class yourself as a god this game is right up your street and it will be 10/10 for you. If you are less than godlike it is going to be the most frustrating game you will play mainly because you know you are going to die before you even start the run and what fun is that?

    • Tacroy says:

      The game isn’t significantly harder than it used to be.

      Each individual level is about as hard as it was. Some levels are a bit harder because they come slightly earlier in the game flow (e.g, the Watcher has been moved to earlier in the game, which means you have less time to gather the situational equipment it needs) but the level’s absolute difficulty hasn’t changed.

      The new upgrade system actually makes the game slightly easier. Before, if you couldn’t find a decent weapon you were boned, because there wasn’t much of a point in upgrading anything else.

      Now, you’ll upgrade whatever attribute upgrades the best class of equipment you’ve found. And since equipment can be upgraded by two attributes, you’ll often find yourself naturally branching out.

      Also, the new levels are really hard. But they’re also new and in an appropriate place in the game’s flow for their difficulty.

    • OddJuniper says:

      In spite of the headline, the “brutal” update doesn’t actually do anything about the game’s difficulty.

  4. Neurotic says:

    I’m no great ninja in the reflexes department, but I find Dead Cells not as brutal as that other recent one, from Ubi. I forget the name, but wow, it’s an arse-kicker.

  5. pikesman says:

    Personally I feel the new update may actually alienate new players.

    First I played this game since patch 2 and went back even after the update wiped my previous save. I had to unlock all the weapons again, still I loved the game enough to come back. The game needs a re-balance on the stage before the “final” boss. There seems to be a difficulty spike near the end for no reason. I was running a 15,3,7 run with a swift sword doing 5000+ damage and it took me 3-4 hits to kill a tracker. I breezed through the previous stage and mid-boss and keep hitting a wall here. In the old game the difficulty was more even throughout and if you got into a groove and did well on the previous stage you were good on the end stage. It is harder to gauge your power with the new update. The enemies at the end is extremely punishing one hit is about half your life at a survival level of 7 and brutal of 15. New player who manage to develop skills and get to the end stage will be punished and feel like they made some mistake or is playing the game all wrong even if they are okay with the previous stages.I did not feel this power spike in the version before this update.

    Second the new brutality,tactics,survival things was meant to open up new builds based on the situation, but falls short. When almost all (90% or more) of the main weapons(spears and swords) scale with brutality why would I place points in the other skills (besides brutality for damage and survival for health). The decisions on what to spec early game needs to take into account the possible weapons you get late game. Since 90% or more scale exclusively with brutality you probably want to put points in that to maximize your chances when you get new gears later. If the developers want to us to try other builds you need more weapons with two different scaling options(like the war spear). If they do that, I may take the risk and put points into other skills.

    Sorry for the long post. This is just my thoughts playing the game, please tell me if I am missing something or misinterpreted the game somehow.