Developer Motion Twin's excellent early access "roguevania" Dead Cells is getting some major additions and revisions tomorrow - including a completely overhauled character progression system - in its new Brutal Update.

Dead Cells, if you're unfamiliar, is a sort of rogue-lite, Souls-like, Metroidvania-ish action-platformer, topped off with some satisfyingly weighty hack-and-slash-style combat.

You begin each play-through as a gooey, resurrected corpse in the dungeon of a labyrinthine castle, and then it's off to battle your way through tough enemies and dastardly traps toward freedom. If you die, however, it's right back to the start, whereupon the castle's layout is completely reconfigured, and you're borne anew.

Dead Cells' world, like classic Castlevania, is split into discrete levels - each with its own gimmick, expansive layout, and dependably gorgeous design. As you explore and quash opponents, you accrue Cells that are used to permanently unlock new weapons and abilities - which are then tossed into the loot pool, ready to find on subsequent play-throughs.

Dead Cells has been in early access since May, but already sports an impressive amount of polish and precision, and the Brutal Update - which has spent the last week or so being massaged into shape on the testing branch - introduces a number of intriguing features.

Most notable is the overhaul of Dead Cells' upgrade system. Previously, you could upgrade either your Strength, Skills, or Health, as you found scrolls on your travels. That system has been completely ditched in favour of a new Brutality/Tactic/Survival set-up.

Here, upgrading Brutality increases your proficiency with weapons, upgrading Tactics increases the effectiveness of your active skills, and upgrading Survival increases the effectiveness of shields. The change, says Motion Twin, is designed to make build choices more interesting, and make non-pure-strength builds more viable, "We're trying to give you a real sense of control and strategy when you choose the tier that you want to upgrade."

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Elsewhere, the Brutal Update adds ten new items (including weapons, shields and active skills), and two new level biomes - the Clock Tower and the Slumbering Sanctuary - with new enemies and loot. The existing Watcher boss is now the game's mid-game boss, and the newly added Assassin boss tops off the game as its final encounter - although the real final boss will be added toward the end of development.

There's a lot more beyond those top-level additions, however, and the full, lengthy patch notes can be found over on Motion Twin's website.

In additional Dead Cells news, the game is now available as part of GOG's Development initiative, so you've a third option if you don't fancy buying it on Steam or itch.io.

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Matt Wales

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Matt Wales is a freelance writer and gambolling summer child who won't even pretend to live a busily impressive life of dynamic go-getting for the purposes of this bio. He is the sole and founding member of the Birdo for President of Everything Society.

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