We don’t really post about big numbers, but sometimes a game lots of us really like boasts about a really really big one. Three million people have bought Dead Cells since it came out on early access in 2017, which is frankly ridiculous. That’s three times this many dots, except every dot is a human who chose to sacrifice precious money* so they could enjoy a videogame. And they were right to.
It’s an excellent platforming roguelike that keeps getting more so. The “Update Of Plenty” update landed on Wednesday, bringing a big balance overhaul while reworking weapons and the economy with an eye to “open up a wider range of builds, while not sacrificing what made meta builds fun”. Crossbows are two-handed now! Makes sense.
The changes are mostly small but widespread, with crossbows being the stand-out exception. They now have “two separate attacks and are Survival only”, which means their damage scales as you pick up in-game orbs that also increase your health pool. Multiple bows “are now Tactic only and have been buffed”, meaning their damages scales with the purple orbs that increase the effectiveness of certain items. It’s a clever system, that, leading to variety and interesting trade-offs. Personally I don’t understand how anyone manages to beat the last boss when they’re not using a shield, but that’s on me. Enjoy your new bows, you reckless tykes.
There are more nuances with weapon changes, but let’s move on to the economy. Developers Motion Twin say they’ve dealt a problem where healing was too expensive at higher difficulty levels, rejigging prices and doing away with gold scaling. That means every item in every shop will always have a small, readable number next it rather than a sprawl of digits, which sounds good. They say that instead of gold scaling, “gear price now goes up with item level”, which I’m not quite well enough acquainted with to fully understand.
There are also more powerup scrolls in early levels, and the difficulty curve between Boss Cells (Dead Cells’ version of ascending, kinda ‘New Game+’ type difficulties) has been “smoothed out”. They say they’ve made the base difficulty even harder, though, “so new players learn more of the combat styles” and can “collect more gear/runes before progressing to the next difficulty level”. I am a bit dispirited to see they regard completing the lowest difficulty as “the ‘tutorial'”, because for many that will be a natural stopping point. Sure was for me. It’s a long and tricky game.
There’s loads else new. Damage over time for every source except fire has been reworked, “because fire was already perfect”. Mutations have been twiddled with. Balance has been balanced. Go check out the patch summary, or the full patch notes.
Brendy called the version from over a year ago “an expertly crafted videogame” where “every organ and limb feels like it belongs”. That’s just scratching the surface of all the praise in his Dead Cells review. We’ve declared it one of the best action games, too.
* Yeah yeah, some will be the same human buying the game more than once, go away.