Dead Cells Guide: Weapons, Doors, And Tips We Wish We Knew Before Starting
By Kallie Plagge on
Dead Cells is now officially out, and if you've been playing, you know how challenging it can be. The roguelike-Metroidvania hybrid's randomized elements make each run tense, while permanent upgrades put more pressure on you in the long run. Whether you're just starting or have hit a boss-shaped roadblock, knowing what to do next can be tricky. Luckily, we've got you covered.
In this guide, we've rounded up the best tips we wish we'd known before we started Dead Cells. Learn from our mistakes (and our successes), including how not to invest your cells and how to reforge your weapons for the best effect. We won't spoil big secrets here, of course, since the joy of discovery is one of the best things about Dead Cells.
For more, be sure to read our Dead Cells review. You can also watch our video about why Dead Cells is an instant classic and one of our favorite games of 2018, or, if you just want to see some gameplay, you can check out our livestream of the mid-game.
Got any other great Dead Cells tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Take Your Time
While you might feel like you need to rush your way through levels--and there is an incentive to do that, but we'll get to that in a bit--careful exploration will take you far. On an individual run, making sure you collect all the Scrolls of Power in each level will maximize your HP, attack damage, and any mutation bonuses going forward. As far as your overall upgrades go, seeking out blueprints, hidden areas, and powerful enemies will help you progress and open up new levels for you to take on.
Don’t Unlock Too Many Weapons
As you collect blueprints, you'll be able to use cells to unlock weapons, skills, and mutations. When you unlock a weapon (melee, ranged, or shield) or skill (grenades, traps, and so on), it'll enter the rotation of items you might find on your run. If you unlock too many, especially low-level weapons and things you don't like using, you might have trouble getting your favorites. A safe bet while you're still figuring things out is to invest cells in mutations, since they aren't randomized, and permanent upgrades like the Health Flask. And whatever you do, don't unlock the Spartan Sandals.
You Don't Have To Spend All Your Cells
Speaking of which... In between each level, you'll find the Collector, who will exchange your cells for upgrades and weapon unlocks. If you try to leave his room without spending all your cells, you'll be told that the door won't open until you do. But that's a lie! You can roll, shoot, or smash your way through the door in two hits and leave with your cells in hand. This way, you can bank the cells you earned in the early levels until you beat a boss--there's a special Legendary Forge only available after boss fights where you can unlock permanent upgrades that increase your chances of finding higher-quality items. Just remember to talk to the Collector to turn in any blueprints you've found.
Always Be Rolling
Enemy attacks are punishing in Dead Cells, but each foe has its attack tells. Zombies will groan before launching themselves at you, for example, while Undead Archers will pull back on their bows before firing an arrow. Know when to dodge roll, and do it often--you'll avoid taking a lot of damage this way, especially if you're not using a shield.
Smash Doors Open And Land With A Stomp
It's loud, but crashing your way through Dead Cells' levels has its benefits. Instead of opening a door normally, roll through it or hit it open with one of your weapons--enemies on the other side will take damage and become stunned if they're close enough. You can also stun and damage enemies by stomping on them from above (just tap the jump/drop button/key a second time to do it). Landing with a thud will also prevent you from being stunned yourself, which can happen if you fall from too high up. Just know where you're landing, or else you might impale yourself on some spikes.
Speedrunning Unlocks Bonus Rooms
While it's generally good to be patient and cautious when playing Dead Cells, there's an incentive to move quickly if you're confident. At the beginning of each area after the first one, you'll come across doors that look like hourglasses. If you reach the door within a certain amount of time--two minutes for the first door, eight for the second, and so on--you'll gain access to a room filled with cells, gold, and other goodies. It's a great option if you got some lucky drops and feel comfortable leaving some parts of a level unexplored, or if you are looking to farm cells for upgrades.
Defeat Special Elites To Get Runes
As you play Dead Cells, you will come across powerful Elite enemies. Most of the time, killing these enemies will net you an amulet with special bonuses (among other rewards). But if you're in the right area, you might find an entire room dedicated to an Elite--you'll know it because you'll get locked in as the fight starts. Defeating this Elite will get you a rune, which unlocks an ability that carries over between runs and allows you to access new areas.
Tactics Builds Are Great
At the beginning, you start each run in Dead Cells with a sword. This can change with upgrades, but it also establishes that swords are central to a good loadout. But this isn't the case! You can have a lot of success with a tactics-focused build that includes two ranged weapons or a ranged weapon and a shield. These also go well with one of our favorite skill combos: the Wolf Trap and the Sinew Slicer. Trap enemies, drop a damage-dealing Sinew Slicer, and fire at them from afar to keep yourself safe and take out multiple enemies at once (and it's also great for boss fights).
Don't Underestimate Shields
Although you might want to do a bunch of damage, shields can be pretty useful. Even if you don't want to parry, the shields absorb a percent of the damage enemies deal. They can also give you some invulnerability briefly after you get hit, which helps as well. Parrying is a bit harder to master, as it's not passive, but it's also very helpful; you can send bombs back at enemies, and some shields even deal damage or stun enemies with a successful parry!
Make The Most Of Reforging
After you beat the Concierge for the first time, you'll unlock the ability to reforge weapons in between areas. This allows you to upgrade them as well as re-roll their effects, which is especially useful with more powerful and legendary weapons. You might have a high-DPS weapon that inflicts damage on you when you use it, for example, which is obviously not desirable (though the actual DPS of the weapon is). With reforging, you can roll for something better without throwing the weapon away! You can also try to coordinate your items' effects; for example, if you have an Ice Bow, you can try to reforge your other items so they cause more damage to frozen enemies.