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The new indie hit Dead Cells is tons of fun, but it can also be tons of trouble. Like other games in the rogue-like genre, Dead Cells offers addictive gameplay tied into a punishing but satisfying loop. The narrative is often told through environmental storytelling, but your objective is rather clear. You play as a reanimated corpse, intent on defeating the king of the world you inhabit. The world of Dead Cells is tragically beautiful and tons of fun to explore, but it demands precision and skill to progress. With each new attempt at the game, you’ll find new weapons to unlock, unique passive abilities, hidden power ups, and much more. It can seem overwhelming at first, and it took me 64 tries until I managed to topple the final boss. Over those playthroughs, I refined my equipment selection, learned each map like the back of my hand, and also made a ton of mistakes. Luckily, if you’re just starting up Dead Cells or are looking for some tips and tricks, I’ve got plenty to offer. Dead Cells is a fantastic game, but at times it can be rather difficult. These words of advice should set you on the right path to defeating the final boss, and overcoming your first completed run of the game.
How to Survive Dead Cells
Explore, Explore, Explore
Although Dead Cells is a game that uses procedurally generated level design, most levels contain secret areas and specific passageways in predetermined places. As a brief example, the time-locked door in the level Ramparts will always be in an early portion of the map, where you can drop down a long chute. Using the wall jump, you can find a secret area in the Promenade of the Condemned by hopping up the first wall on your left. While you can never account for the true random nature of the game, you can usually rely on specific things being in the same place. Knowing the general layout of a level is one of the best ways to ensure survival, so you should focus on getting familiar with them.
When you first start the game, a lot of passages and secrets will be blocked off if you don’t have the correct power up. However, being familiar with the general locations of these areas will be greatly rewarded once you obtain said power up. Additionally, exploring also forces you to fight enemies and clear out rooms. When you’re first starting out, you’ll want to collect as many cells as possible and cash them in at the Collector between levels. I completely understand the want to blast through an early stage and progress further into the game. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll need all the health flasks and cool mutations that you can get. Something as simple as maxing out your health potion will cost you well over 1,000 cells. You’ll also want to be sure to collect every available scroll of power, and the only way to truly do that is to fully explore each level.
Experiment with New Weapons
One of the best parts about Dead Cells is the freedom it gives the player with how they want to fight. The game has a wide variety of weapons including swords, daggers, crossbows, and much more. Your selection will be limited when you first start out, but it’s easy to find a preferred loadout. However, as you unlock new weapons and gear, you’ll want to experiment regardless of how effective you think it will be. As you learn more about how the intricacies of how Dead Cells‘ combat works, you’ll quickly notice that different levels are easier with certain weapons.
For most of my time with the game, I preferred to have a Balanced Sword or a Blood Sword in my primary slot, with some sort of elemental weapon in my secondary slot. For equipment, I favored the Wolf Claw and the Double Cross-bo-matic. When it comes to mutations, I always grab the extra life, the cooldown reduction on gear, and an appropriate damage booster. This combo is a great way to take out enemies up close with big damage, or cower in a corner while the equipment takes them out. Using equipment as a main source of damage is a great way to get cells while staying relatively safe, which is good for the first handful of hours. In fact, the aforementioned loadout of equipment earned me a no-damage victory on the first boss, and got me to the final boss a handful of times. No matter what, I would always perish to the final foe. During one run, I decided to shake things up, using a heavy crossbow and two grenades for equipment. Having never seriously used grenades for late game and being inexperienced with the crossbow, I assumed it would be a brief run. Using the heavy crossbow as my main source of damage, I reached the final boss and defeated him. Sometimes you’ll find the most success by trying something new.
Learn Enemy Attack Patterns
Regardless of how you approach the variety of enemies in the game, you’ll always want to know their attack patterns. Thankfully, Dead Cells doesn’t have an insane amount of enemies, so you should manage just fine. When it comes down to it, you might not have to dodge each attack or know an enemies’ full abilities. However, once you start to pay attention to the attacks that each enemy makes, you’ll feel much more confident approaching them. This is especially true for late game enemies who deal massive amounts of damage. When you first make it to some of the later stages in the game, the enemies you face will feel incredibly intimidating and dangerous. After you go toe-to-toe with them a few times, you’ll notice that most attack patterns are pretty easy to dodge. It’s also worth noting that your dodge roll is super useful and will often let you escape from attacks that would have surely killed you otherwise.
This goes doubly for the game’s handful of bosses. When facing off against the boss, I often found myself going on the offensive instead of taking the time to learn. This made certain fights much more difficult than they had to be. This is especially true for the final boss, which is a difficult and flashy fight, but one that’s more easily manageable once you sacrifice a life or two to figure out the boss’ inner workings.
Wolf Claw is a Godsend for Bosses
I’m sure that Dead Cells is a game that will be updated as time goes on, with different equipment receiving balancing changes and so forth. At the time of this writing, the Wolf Claw item is arguably the most useful item you can take into a boss encounter. Even at its base level, the Wolf Claw can hold a boss in place for a handful of seconds. If you choose the mutation “Efficiency” (which reduces the cooldowns on gear like this), you’ll be able touch trap every boss in a stun lock with only a second or two of vulnerability. If used correctly, the Wolf Claw can make no-hit victories on bosses a very obtainable feat.
The Wolf Claw works the best on the first two bosses (The Concierge and Time Keeper), but also works wonders on the bonus boss. When it comes to the final boss, you’ll have to experiment to see what works. However, the Wolf Claw is still a useful item to have in this fight. Basically, when all else seems to fail, grab a Wolf Claw and some ranged damage.