Dead Cells: The Comprehensive Hero’s Guide
Which weapons are present in the game, how to fight enemies and avoid attacks, where to find new weapon upgrades and secrets, how to upgrade skills and what happens when you die
Dead Cells is a retro-themed, super-fast, super-difficult platforming action shooter. The makers of the game describe it as a procedurally generated ‘’roguevania’’, where the gameplay is reminiscent of classic platformers, but the overall appeal of the game is one of difficulty and challenge. The game makes several proud references to Dark Souls – a game from which it draws a lot of inspiration, especially in the difficulty and loss of progress.
We’re here to outline all of the specifics you’ll need to know in order to master Dead Cells, and get you one step closer to your first no-death run.
You can equip up to two weapons and up to two skills at a time. Weapons don’t need ammo, and you can spam them at will. Skills are similar but each has a short cool down.
There are melee, projectile shield and spell weapons.
Melee are your standard swords and daggers, projectiles come with limited ammo, which can be retrieved back from dead targets, shields serve for parrying (and not shielding), and come with some added bonuses like anti-stagger protection and elemental effects on perfect parries.
And finally, spell weapons, also without an ammo expenditure, come with random effects that vary from spell to spell. They’re also quite slow, and not exactly staple weapons – you’ll need more than spells to get through the game.
There are several types of skills, though for the most part they’re castable, ranged, damaging abilities. Beyond just damage, they also have status effects that they apply to the surfaces that they hit. Their cooldowns are rather low, in that you can definitely spam them. And you should spam them. Also they can’t hurt you so, fire away.
You got your standard health, strength and skills. To upgrade them you need to acquire upgrade scrolls. Some will let you choose what you want to upgrade, others will be set for one stat.
Health is … well, how long you can get hit before you permadie. You can recover it, buff it, but don't let it drop to zero. Strength increases your weapon damage, naturally, and the skill stat increases the effectiveness of your skills, as well as decreasing their cooldowns.
There are six damaging statuses in the game: freeze, poison, bleed burn and immobilize. They’re pretty self-explanatory, and should all be feared equally, especially when you’re facing more than one enemy at a time.
When you die, you jump back to the starting area and lose your money, cells, weapons and skills. You essentially reset entirely, except for the upgrades that you’ve purchased along the way. And speaking of upgrades…
The ‘’merchant’’ of Dead Cells, he wants all the cells you collect from your enemies, and he offers weapon upgrades, potion capacity, money insurance (like the ring of soul protection from DS), and several research options. You’ll learn to love the collector. He’s spooky, but he’s the best friend you’re going to have in the game.
From pauper to prince – mastering Dead Cells
This game has way too many weapons, items and upgrades to run through, and they’re not exactly tiered best to worst. So, instead of listing them all one by one, we’ll help you understand how they work, instead, and how you can create your own synergy to better feel comfortable to take on waves of baddies, for hours on end.
This game comes with ultra-responsive controls that you’re going to want to milk for all they’re worth. You have a basic dash move, which is essentially your main ‘’evade’’. It’s super useful for evading attacks, but also comes with some bonuses like being able to dash your way out of a pool of acid if you roll out and jump immediately on contact.
There’s also a stomping move, crouch+jump while in the air, which stuns the enemies below you and does damage. This move scales with your strength and is a great ground burst AOE.
You’re going to want to stay as far away from your enemies as possible, preferably facing them from one side, to prevent from being mob rushed. Enemies in this game telegraph their attacks with a yellow exclamation mark:
That’s your queue to dash, smash and generally get out of the way, then unleash a fury of lethal weaponry.
As for the actual damage dealing, you’ll notice that when you get hit, your health doesn’t actually disappear – you get a chance to recover lost health if you immediately counter damage the enemy that harmed you, thus gaining your health back. This is basically a no-brainer in 1v1 fights, but when you’re up against a group, you might want to tread carefully and walk away.
It’s also worth noting that you can finish an entire weapon combo while you are in the air, but don’t doddle too long, especially if you’re off a ledge.
The best way to approach enemies is to crouch from afar and shoot them with a bow. This is the only attack type in the game that lets you shoot while crouching. More on the weapon tactics a bit later, but for now…
Secrets, runes and the in-between
There are several secret types that may or may not be worth your time.
These little buggers drop 3 good items every time you open them, but they come with a curse that makes you die in one hit. You have to kill 10 enemies to lift the curse, but that’s a huge gamble. During higher levels, you’re literally better off just ignoring them.
Ygdar Orus Li Ox
Or ‘’YOLO’’ for short, is a mutation that deserves its own honorable mention. It revives you with 25% HP, upon (what would otherwise be) death, freezing all enemies around you, and shattering in the process. They’re an absolute must-have, must-use. Remember that it’s always available, but only obtainable after exiting the Prisoners' Cells and before entering either second stage.
Double Damage Weapons
These are rather rare, and they come in 2x and 4x varieties. Both varieties cause you to take double damage, but increase your damage output 2x or 4x respectively. These are quite dangerous to wield but could prove pivotal in final builds.
There are also secrets hidden throughout the game, marked by a very specific chain-like insignia that usually glows blue. Be on the lookout!
Experiment with different load out combinations. The great thing about this game is that there’s no right way to spec your character, there is only one right way of staying alive, and it’s to not get hit in the face. You could go for maximizing elemental effects, or combining two different weapons that complement each other, like ‘’oil’’ and ‘’fire’’, to set your enemies ablaze. You could also go for a long range spear build, and try to down enemies before they reach you. It’s even worthwhile to opt for a grenade build to better clear larger hordes of smaller enemies quickly, then whittle away the bigger enemies slowly.