Throughout the Castlevania series’ many entries and reinventions, one thing has remained constant: before you can get to Dracula, you’ll have to defeat Death, his trusted confidant. This tradition persists into Dead Cells’ new DLC. In Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania, you need to defeat Death before they can proceed to challenge Dracula in the second half of the DLC.
This is easier said than done, however. Death is as tricky as ever in his Dead Cells incarnation, packing some dangerous magic attacks and sickles. That said, once you’re armed with the knowledge found in the following guide, you’ll be able to defeat Death in Dead Cells’ Return to Castlevania DLC with HP to spare.
Tacking down Dracula’s second in command
Death can be found in the Defiled Necropolis, one of the new biomes introduced in Return to Castlevania. In order to reach it, you’ll first need to access the DLC itself, and make your way to the Castle’s Outskirts via the Prisoners’ Quarters. From here, complete the biome and proceed to Dracula’s Castle, then complete that to get to the transition zone that leads to the Master’s Keep.
Or so it seems. Once you’ve climbed one of Castlevania’s signature long staircases, your progress will be halted by a pulsing purple chain, which will grab you and drag you down into the abyss below. Once this happens, you’ll be taken to the Defiled Necropolis, where the Death fight takes place.
Defeating Death in Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania DLC – Phase 1
The early stages of the Death battle are actually fairly manageable. Death will float around the arena slowly, generally settling either on top of, or below, one of the two platforms. He’ll be accompanied in this phase by four floating sickles, which are usually static, but can move towards you at times, so keep an eye on them whenever you can spare it.
This phase is largely about positioning, as Death won’t proactively attack here. Your goal is to avoid the sickles and get some safe hits in. Death and the sickles move independently, so depending on how RNG pans out, either ranged or melee weapons will do better here. For this reason, a balanced build is the best choice, if you’re specifically building to take on Death. His continuous movement, as well as the fact that he’s rarely on the ground, does make traps and turrets less effective against Death than they are against most bosses, however.
Defeating Death in Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania DLC – Phase 2
Once you’ve removed about a quarter of Death’s health, things will kick up a notch. He’ll briefly be surrounded by an impenetrable shield, before transitioning into phase two, where you have a lot more attacks to be worried about. These attacks are as follows:
- Scythe Throw – Death throws his scythe across the arena, generally in a diagonal motion, before teleporting to its location.
- Magic Barrage – Death will unleash a series of magic orbs in rapid succession. These will track you to an extent. This attack commonly follows up the Scythe Throw.
- Scythe Slash – Death will perform a short-range slash with his scythe. This attack will only occur if you’re next to Death in the downtime between attacks.
- Scythe Dash – Death will dash across the arena, whirling his scythe at the same time, in a diagonal motion. This attack is often followed up by a Scythe Throw.
- Dark Slash – A large area of the ground will be highlighted with dark energy, then Death will perform a slash with his scythe, causing damage to anything in and above that area.
This is quite the arsenal, and it comes at you fast, with Death giving little leeway in between attacks and often chaining one into another. For this reason, fast weapons are preferred here, to get safe hits in when windows present themselves.
While the attacks are constant, they are also largely predictable. The Scythe attacks are all locked to a diagonal axis, meaning you can move yourself into a position where you can avoid the attack and get some hits in in advance once you’ve seen them a couple of times. This kind of proactive positioning is key here, particularly when things start to speed up later on. If you can get out of the way of an attack before it lands, you’re in good shape.
The Magic Barrage attack throws a spanner in the works, however, since its orbs track you, preventing you from playing around it in the same way. A good way to deal with this attack is to dodge directly into it, then be ready to dodge back through it when the orbs swing round. Death will probably line up another attack while you’re doing this, so keep an eye on him so you’re ready to dodge it when it comes.
It’s also worth noting that, as you deplete his health further, Death will accumulate magic orbs which orbit him in a circular motion, damaging you on touch. These orbs ensure that the longer the battle goes on, the harder it is for you to avoid damage. This means that ranged weapons become the preferred approach later in the fight, so it’s a good idea to bring one alongside a fast melee weapon to take on Death.
As with all Dead Cells bosses, things get more intense as time goes on, so keep your cool and remember to prioritize avoiding damage over dealing it if that choice presents itself. Keep chipping away and eventually Death himself will fall.
Once you’ve defeated Death, in addition to the usual boss reward of a huge lump sum of gold, you’ll also receive 40 cells. And if it’s your first time defeating Death, you’ll receive the Blueprint for the Death’s Scythe weapon. Defeating Death again will reward you with the Blueprint for the Death Outfit, so it’s worth putting him in his place a second time just for that.
Now that you know how to defeat Death in Dead Cells’ Return to Castlevania DLC, the real master of the castle is within your reach.