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).

    • 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. Premium User Badge

    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.

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