Dead Cells Beginners Guide to Getting Your First Clear
Dead Cells is one of the most fun indie titles out there. Combining the exploration of Metroidvanias with the replayability and insanity of roguelikes is nothing short of genius. Coupled with crazily addictive, fast-paced gameplay and heaps of personality, Dead Cells is a title you could end up losing lots of hours playing. Running and rolling while dispatching foes and unlocking items is a good ol’ time until you realize something: this game is tough to clear. Getting to the final boss in hopes of landing your first win can end up becoming a frustrating endeavor if you’re not aware of certain aspects. That’s not to say there’s one correct way of playing. Dead Cells is a test of skill and efficiency that can be highly rewarding once you understand how all of its elements work together.
If you’ve been hitting a brick wall, our beginner’s guide will help you get your first clear and put you on the path to higher difficulties.
Don’t Get Booped
You might have noticed that enemies in this game hit really hard. Health flask charges are on a premium and you can’t depend on a roast chicken dropping. This is all a design choice that has one thing to teach you: don’t get hit. The key skills you need to build early on is getting used to dodging and running away from danger. You’re not meant to just dive into action, swinging your blade like a maniac until everything is dead. Okay, maybe sometimes cause that’s pretty fun, too.
To clear Dead Cells, however, you need to approach situations methodically. Your finger needs to be on the dodge button at all times so you can tumble out of the way of a big swing with nanoseconds to spare. To accomplish this, you’ll need to assign your dodge to one of the shoulder buttons on your controller. That way you can always have a finger dedicated to keeping you out of harm’s way. Also, pay attention to when you’ve built up a speed boost from killstreaks. This will give you the ability to dive in, kill a few squishies and run out before bigger enemies have a chance to boop you.
Damage is King
Do you know what’s a surefire way to not get hit? By making everything else around you dead before they can hit you. That means that every hit needs to be bringing the pain in a massive way. And you accomplish this through stat building.
There are three stats in the game, Brutality, Tactics, and Survival. You want all four of your items to scale with your highest stat. The only time you should be taking an off-stat is if you get a dual scroll and it doesn’t have your main stat as an option. In this case, take the option with the highest HP.
“But, what about health?” I hear you say. Some might call it a noob trap. For me, health really only delays the inevitable. If you’re taking lots of damage, then you’re not killing fast enough. It also means you’re relying too much on your health flask to carry you forward. This won’t fly after you start Boss Cell runs.
Bottom line; make sure all your items and abilities, as well as the scrolls you pick (and most of the time your mutations), are of the same stat and you’ll be a killing machine.
Release the Turrets
This is more of an addendum to the above. If you build Tactics, always take turrets for your abilities. Specifically, Sinew Slicer and Double Crossb-o-Matic are hands down two of the best pickups in the game. For starters, they dish out continuous damage and stack DoTs like nobody’s business. Second, they are highly versatile, allowing you to drop them from safe places so you can chill while they do the dirty work.
Shields vs. Dual Wielding
Ah, the age-old question. You’ve locked down your main weapon and abilities, but should you do about that pesky off-hand? Do you dual wield for double the action, double the fun? Or do you add a board to your sword for the parry? Decisions, decisions.
The truth is that it all boils down to your preference. Parrying in Dead Cells is actually very good compared to other games. It gives you an added reliable defensive option against both melee and ranged attacks. You can even parry bosses. It’s one of those high skill ceiling elements of Dead Cells that takes time to master. Once you do, however, you open yourself up to a whole new world of possibility.
Placing another weapon on your off-hand, on the other hand, means you do more damage. You can also double up on your synergies. On top of that, with recent changes to item stat scaling, there are dual wield builds for all three stats. And let me tell you one more secret that will blow your mind: you can bind both of your attacks to a single button. Game-changer, I know. Particularly with fast ranged attacks, this means you can pump out damage like nobody’s business.
At the end of the day, it all depends on what you value more. If you feel more comfortable with an added defensive option, then use shields. Practicing the parry is worth the trouble. If you’d rather drop enemies faster, then go for dual wield.
DoT means Damage over Time and in Dead Cells it refers to three effects, poison, bleed and burn. This is where reading – boo! – the text on your items is important. You should be making sure that all of your items synergize with a single DoT effect. For instance, you can be carrying a bow that poisons enemies while your turrets deal additional damage to poisoned targets. It’s these effects that you’ll be spending quite a bit of time trying to balance out but it’s worth the trouble.
Most Efficient Routes
So, now you have all of the knowledge you need to survive and cut through enemies swiftly. Now, you need to know which are the best routes to take in order to get to the Hand of the King with as little trouble as possible. While we can’t promise smooth sailing at all times, here are the two routes that are the most efficient once you have all of the traversal abilities. They give you the most chances at cursed chests as well as the most scrolls.
Prisoner’s Quarters -> Promenade of the Condemned -> Prison Depths -> Ossuary -> Black Bridge -> Stilt Village -> Forgotten Sepulcher -> Guardian’s Haven -> High Peak Castle -> Throne Room
Prisoner’s Quarters -> Toxic Sewers -> Ancient Sewers -> Forgotten Crypt -> Graveyard -> Forgotten Sepulcher -> Guardian’s Haven -> High Peak Castle -> Throne Room
Credit: Yannis Vatis
Yannis is a veteran gamer with over 25 years of experience across the spectrum of genres. He enjoys spending time with his family, livestreaming on Twitch and occasionally dishing out unsolicited dad advice.