After a year in Early Access, bastard-hard action-platformer Dead Cells arrived at version 1.0 in 2018. It's still being updated regularly, with recent additions including The Queen and the Sea DLC and free add-on Break the Bank. There's more to come. In a recent interview with Twinfinite, marketing manager Matthew Houghton said, "When I first arrived at Dead Cells around a year ago, Arthur [Décamp, designer] showed me the game and what the team still had and I said, 'OK, so we are only about halfway through Dead Cells now.'"
In that interview, Houghton and Décamp discussed an update that's been in the works for the last four months, which will rework some of the older weapons, reduce the cost of early-game items, and add a substantial list of accessibility features. "Obviously, we kept in mind that Dead Cells has to remain challenging for everyone," Houghton said, "but now you will be able to adapt the challenge to your needs and enjoy the game and tweak the experience to make it better for you."
Those features are available to try in the current alpha build. They include input customization (with options like removing long-presses and complicated inputs), visual customization (with options for changing fonts, colors, outlines, UI size and transparency), sound customization (with separate sliders for the volume of active skills, enemies, the environment, interactables, and so on), and an assist mode.
"When you activate assist mode," said Houghton, "there is a disclaimer that comes up saying part of the fun of Dead Cells is to enjoy the tough but fair experience, but that we know that it can be complicated for some people." Assist mode will let you turn on continues, resurrecting at the start of the current biome rather than back at the beginning of the game, as well as an auto-hit mode to automatically target enemies in melee, sliders for trap damage, enemy damage and enemy health, and options to slow trap speed and widen the parrying window.
The accessibility features are being tested by a panel from Able Gamers, but they'll also be a boon to everyone who hit a wall in Dead Cells and realized they'd never be able to get any further. Which I suspect is most people who play it for any length of time.
If you want to try the alpha, back up your save, then right-click on Dead Cells in your Steam library, select Properties, the Betas tab, and then the dropdown "public_alpha - alpha - not for the faint hearted…" After that, Steam will download the update and you'll be able to jump in.
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Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.