Take advantage of ranged weapons
You can use two different weapons in Dead Cells, including a sword and bow and arrows, among other things. Melee attacks are certainly cool looking because there aren’t many things as swaggy as using a katana to slice foes.
But if you go with a bow and arrow too, you’ll find that same coolness there. The awesomeness of shooting enemies from long range makes kills look that much more stylish. This will also be helpful because you will be able to get some safe kills and advance forward.
Now, some enemies will fire projectiles as well, but with some good dodges and firing of your arrows, you’ll be in good shape. Plus, with you shooting from distance, you’ll have a lot more time to prepare yourself for that perfect dodge. Then, when the window is open, launch that arrow.
Keep an eye out for doors and portals
One thing to definitely do in Dead Cells is be observant. You sometimes just never know what you’ll find. There are several doorways as well as portals that will take you to new areas. Portals are used as checkpoints of sorts for your run.
Although there are no save points in the game, these teleporters will let you go back and forth between different locations if you’re nearby. This comes in handy if you felt you missed something in a certain part of the world.
Doors on the other hand almost always lead to some form of place of repose. Usually, it’s a merchant of some kind. This is great because you’ll have an opportunity to make yourself stronger as well as purchase items to help you replenish your health. So if you see any doors early on, I highly recommend you drop in and say “hello.”
Get used to this location. Dead Cells is a roguelike as well as a Metroidvania, so you’re going to die. You’re going to die a lot. Rather than feeling frustrated by every death, though, it’s important to try and approach it as a learning experience. Make a note of what you could’ve done differently, how you could have better prepared, and go into the next fight with that knowledge in mind. Besides, upgrades will help make you more powerful in subsequent runs.
The most frustrating part of deaths, though is losing everything you earned until that point, including currency like gold and cells. Reaching transitions between levels and spending your cells (more on that later) is essential to making each run worth it. Progress might be slow, but every bit of progress you make will ultimately help you reach your goals.
The key to offence is a good defense
Your ability to dodge in Dead Cells can be as critical as your sword-swinging or arrow-firing abilities. As aggressive as enemies can be, you might see yourself blocking and dodging quite a bit. But one thing that many sports coaches will tell you is that good defense leads to offense and the same can be applied here.
You can certainly go for your kills as quickly as possible, but if there are numerous enemies or obstacles, then it’s good to make use of your defensive abilities. Dodge incoming attacks and unleash your fury on foes. Jump on the other side of them and hit them from behind.
Not saying that you always need to play conservatively, but it really can be helpful if you find yourself in a tough situation. And definitely make sure to have some kind of projectile weapon on you because the range is always nice and coincides beautifully with your defense.
Rolling is your friend
As in other roguelikes, rolling is key to victory in Dead Cells. Practice rolling as much as possible, especially on weaker enemies. When you roll into an enemy, you’ll actually have a few frames of animation in which you’re invincible (known as iFrames). This means you’ll dodge their attack while also getting pushed out of the other side, putting you in the clear to either avoid them or hit them with a follow-up.
Oh, and there’s no shame in avoiding enemies if you’re in a tight spot. Better to flee and fight another day, you know? Rolling will even help to extend your horizontal jump, making it an essential part of your platforming arsenal.
Slamming the ground is more than just falling with style
In a similar way, get used to ground slamming when you’re falling. While Dead Cells doesn’t feature fall damage, you’ll be momentarily stunned if you fall too far and risk taking damage from nearby enemies unless, of course, you can stun them too.
By pressing down and jump when you’re in the air, you’ll drop faster and slam the ground, stunning and damaging nearby enemies (or even killing them outright) while also ensuring you won’t be stunned from falling from too great a height. So, make ground slamming a habit, even if that’s just a short distance. Just watch out for spikes.
Spend your cells wisely
Defeating enemies and bosses earns you cells (which look like blue orbs), and you lose cells when you die. So, what do you do with the ones you earn? Visiting The Collector on your runs, you’ll be able to spend cells on upgrades that you’ll carry with you, even after you die. He’ll even refill your health and health flasks for your trouble.
Not all upgrades are created equal, though. Read what each upgrade does and think carefully if you’ll find it helpful.
If you’re still stuck on what to choose, it’s a good idea to spend your hard-earned cells on levelling up your health flask and the ability to hold onto some gold between runs. Then, unlock the ability to be granted a random starter bow, shield, and melee weapon at the beginning of your runs. Finally, for mutations, pick what you think you’ll use. We recommend Ygdar Orus Li Ox, which gives you a second life. Yes, that spells YOLO.
Look for Blueprints
Blueprints unlock new melee weapon, shield, and bow types to find as you play, so finding them should be a priority. You can find them by defeating bosses and Elite enemies, but they’re also sometimes hidden in secret areas throughout the game. For an early one, jump up and to the left at the beginning of the game, then roll to enter a secret room. The same goes for the game’s second area.
This leads to another supplementary tip: explore everywhere. Leave no stone unturned. You never know what you’ll find hidden, and those hidden areas could be the difference between victory and defeat. Once you’ve found them, take them to the Collector to unlock your new toy in exchange for a few cells. It’ll even be added to your arsenal, meaning it can randomly appear in future runs.
Status effects are everything
Weapons, skills, and amulets you come across may inflict greatly beneficial status effects only your enemies. From applying a damage-over-time bleed effect to freezing and slowing a target’s motion, using them effectively may prove crucial time and again. Even if an enemy is immune to the freeze effect, they can’t resist the slow effect it also applies. Meanwhile, applying a bleed to an enemy, especially tankier enemies like Elites and bosses, is an effective strategy. These are just a few of the status effects you’ll come across in the game, so read your tooltips closely.
For an early game boost, keep an eye out for the Blood Sword Blueprint. Unlocking this early, along with the random weapon when you begin a new run, will make your early runs a lot less punishing.
How to open Timed Doors (aka, gotta go fast)
Have you come across a door that looks a bit like an hourglass? These Timed Doors, hidden throughout the world and sometimes between areas, become impassible if not reached in time. They’ll even tell you how long ago they sealed, giving a tantalising glimpse into what could’ve been.
Once you feel more comfortable with Dead Cells, it’s time to try reaching these Timed Doors. We recommend waiting because you’ll need to run, dodge, roll, and jump your way through enemies without killing them in order to reach the doors in time and loot the riches within. The first, in the game’s second area, will require you to reach it within two minutes. This might sound tough, but you can do it.
As for what’s behind them, these rooms can contain a surplus of cells, powerful Blueprints, mutations, and more.
Take on the daily challenge
Manage to beat Dead Cells’ first boss, The Concierge, and you’ll be able to unlock the clock tower in the game’s starting area. This is where you’ll find the daily challenge, a timed dungeon that changes every day and which is filled with enemies and bosses you’ll only face later in the game.
Beat the challenge, and you’ll begin to unlock Blueprints you won’t find anywhere else. Plus, it’s a great way to practice your skills!
Don’t run away; stay on the offensive to regain health
OK, yes, while we’ve previously said there’s no shame in running away and that defense is good, Dead Cells features a risk-reward system for regaining health after you’re hurt. After getting hurt by an enemy attack, quickly strike the enemy to regain a chunk of your HP.
The damage you take is represented by a yellow chunk of your green health bar. Each successive hit you return on your enemy will see that yellow refill with green. Act fast, and you can make even the toughest enemies less damaging. Try getting used to this give-and-take as soon as possible as it’s a key skill to use in the world of Dead Cells.
Story rooms contain hidden secrets to discover
Dotted throughout the game world, story rooms are areas where you’ll uncover more of the game’s lore and backstory. They have a purpose beyond worldbuilding, though. Explore these rooms thoroughly as they might contain weapons and even Amulets, a rare item that grants extra abilities such as triple jump.
They also have a chance to contain extra items such as gold and equipment, or even hidden areas. Keep an eye out, too, for story rooms featuring other franchises such as Hollow Knight. They contain some amazing gear, as seen in the video above.
Think twice before picking up every scroll
It might seem like a no-brainer to pick up every scroll you come across, but it’s more complicated than that. Scrolls enhance one of your stats: Brutality, Tactics, or Survivability, while also giving a percentage boost to your health. Each stat is tied to a weapon or skill type, so picking stats that align with your build, or the weapons and skills you’re using, is an important part of combatting the world of Dead Cells.
However, the more scrolls you pick up, the harder enemies in later levels become. So, while buffing your stats early is a great way to prepare, it might be wise to stop picking up scrolls if you don’t truly need them. If you don’t, you risk later enemies being overpowered compared to your current weapons and abilities.
Traps, traps, traps
What’s better than hacking and slashing your enemies? Having something else do the hard work for you. You sometimes have a chance at coming across traps, which can be placed in the world to deal damage on your behalf. An early powerhouse of a trap is the Sinew Slicer, a turret that repeatedly fires at enemies while you avoid or join the fray. You need to be close to them for them to fire, though – move too far away, and you’ll see a little lightning bolt above them signalling that you need to move closer.
What makes these traps seem too good to be true? They’re cooldown-based rather than one-off consumables, meaning you can continually use them as they come off cooldown. Add in some cooldown-reducing mutations and you’ll be able to use them as much as you want. Throw one down before a boss or Elite enemy, and they’ll be down in no time.