A few months ago I had the chance to preview Don’t Die, Minvera. The rouge-lite action RPG (role-playing game) from Xaviant Games was not only fun to play but was an exciting challenge. Over the last few months the team has continued to add in and adjust content to make the game the best it can be. The most recent patch that went live on March 27, 2020 is by far one of my favorite ones. They took time to balance the combat system, overhauled the spawning system as well as added in new abilities. Here is a quick breakdown of the changes and how it feels to play now!

Minerva finds an upgrade to her new ability.

Minerva finds an upgrade to her new ability. Image courtesy of Xaviant.

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Minvera’s New Abilities

When Don’t Die, Minerva first released in early access, Minerva had two ways to deal with enemies. She could use her flashlight to kill them or deploy a stuffed toy that dealt damage to the enemies near it. These stuffed toys were great since they each had their own way of attacking. For instance the monkey throws bananas at any enemy that enters its’ circle while the bumblebee flies in a circle around you and deals damage to anyone is comes into contact with.

The new update takes things to the next level though. They have added another ability that allows her to perform five different attacks depending on which one is currently equipped. Each new run with automatically have the default Flashlight smash which allows Minerva to slam the flashlight down and deal damage to the enemy in front of her. The other four abilities are physical, ice, voltaic, and flame.

My personal favorite of the new abilities has to be physical. It takes the form of a baseball bat and as Minerva swings it not only deals damage, but knocks back enemies in its wake. It really helps to break up large groups of enemies that may be a bit too much to handle. The new abilities for Minerva really help to give players another thing to focus on while fighting instead of spamming your stuffed toy. Run out of energy? Use your ability to help create some distance while you wait for it to come back.

New Monsters to Mash With

One thing that makes Don’t Die, Minerva such a fun game to play lies in the enemies themselves. Even from the beginning, there was a good variety of enemies to face off against as you progressed through the rooms, so when they announced they had even more I was worried it would be repetitive.  It was terrific to see that my worry was for naught. They have currently added in some fodder enemies in the form of eyeballs, skills, books, wax, rats and roaches that help break up the larger more deadly enemies.

While playing I also noticed that they updated art for some of the enemies and they look fantastic. The art style has always been top-notch and I am excited to say that it has only gotten better! Along with the art the team overhauled the spawning system for enemies in each room. A big change I noticed was that spawning is now based on proximity. Many rooms have two separate spawns and the second one would trigger right after killing the first hoard, but now it is based on when you get close to the spawn trigger. It feels more natural this way.

However, one thing I did find to be a bit lackluster was that sometimes rooms were massive but didn’t have a lot of enemies spawn in. One, in particular, had only two or three bats and some fodder enemies. I felt I spent more time searching the room for loot than actual fighting. These rooms would benefit from more enemies that felt like I was fighting my way from the entrance to exit and maybe there is a way spawn points to room size. Just that small balancing would make each room feel like a real challenge.

Minerva facing off against new enemies in Don't Die, Minerva.

Minerva facing off against new enemies. Image courtesy of Xaviant.

Overall Balance and Bug Fixes

My playthrough of Don’t Die, Minerva didn’t end after I wrote my initial preview. It actually found its’ way to being a game I play regularly now. A couple of hours a week over the last few months has given me so much time to challenge myself and test out different ways to build up Minerva’s weapons and how to handle different enemies. So watching as the team at Xaviant has not only worked to focus their time on adding new content but also updating and balancing the game has been phenomenal.

With the latest patch we saw balance changes pretty much across the board. Changes to loot drops and what appears in the vendor shop was a big deal for me as I felt I hung onto gear for longer than I should have. This is also helped by the reduction of the likelihood that a gear drop was higher or lower than the floor I was currently on. It made finding gear on each level feel more like an upgrade rather than constantly selling it and waiting out.

How does it feel now?

With each new update to Don’t Die, Minerva the game feels better than before. Looking back to my previous review and remembering how it originally felt really grindy without a good payout has thankfully been completely overhauled. Playing through each level still feels like a challenge but at the same time the payback you get from playing feels rewarding. I never felt like I was doing a massive amount of work and got nothing in return.

I still highly suggest if you haven’t gotten a chance to check out Don’t Die, Minerva then make sure to add it to your list! It is available now on PC through Steam‘s early access and on the Xbox One.

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Julia Roth
Catch Me