Dead Cells: Why Survival Builds are Trash

in #sportstalk2 years ago

Yesterday I wrote an article about why Tactics is the strongest build in Dead Cells (, the best roguelite game of the past few years. But why stop there? There’s two other types of builds you can go with in Dead Cells, one is alright and one is trash. Today we’ll look at the worst build: Survival. So why is Survival so bad? Read on to find out:

dead cells 3.jpg


  1. Shields: The most common Survival items are shields, which are horrible. Shields do exactly what you’d expect: they block incoming damage. The thing is, they only block like 75% of the damage. Sure that’ll help you survive a bit longer, but wouldn’t you like to take no damage at all? Might as well stick to rolling to avoid attacks. Blocking will also do a VERY small amount of damage back to melee attackers.

  2. Parrying: There is technically a way to block all incoming damage, and that’s parrying. If you tap your shield button the moment before getting hit with an attack, all damage will be negated and you’ll do extra damage in return. Sounds nice, until you realize that you have a 12 frame (.2 second) window to pull it off! I mean, at least that’s more frames than you get in Dark Souls, but are your reflexes that good? I have no shame in admitting mine aren’t.

  3. Tools: Basically the only tools that scale based on Survival are grenades, which aren’t particularly good. They are used once and then you have to wait for a cooldown to finish before they can be used again. They do less damage per second in the long run than any other tool or weapon. The Death Orb scales on Survival, which was used to great effect in the Dead Cells race at Awesome Games Done Quick 2019 (see below), but they were still using Tactics builds and I personally haven’t unlocked the Death Orb so I can’t speak on the efficacy of it.

  4. Mutations: All the Survival based mutations are based on successful parries (see point #2 about why Survival builds are trash) except “Necromancy” which gives you a minor heal (less than 2%) when you kill an enemy. You’re not really killing enemies if you’re focusing on Survival, though. “Extended Healing” makes your health potions a little better but you only can get 3 mutations per run and I’d rather have better mutations.

Now the cool thing is there’s a few melee weapons and ranged weapons that also scale with your Survival stat, but they’re typically the bigger, slower type of weapon, which is counterintuitive for a game that requires fast reflexes and attacks like Dead Cells. What it really comes down to is that Survival items are typically all bad and the only true benefit of Survival is overshadowed by just a basic dodge roll. This is why Survival is trash.


Afterthought: Upon reading up on the Dead Cells wiki, I did learn that shields have a passive effect where they absorb damage regardless of a successful block. That’s pretty cool, I guess. You don’t take ANY damage if you roll or dodge an attack though. That said, a mix of a bow and a shield bow might be a good combo, going full into Tactics of course. Definitely going to try that out later.


Sources: gamepedia, Steam Store