At first glance, you may think Dead Cells is a traditional roguelike, starting from scratch every time you die. It’s not! Well, it mostly is, but there are a few major upgrades that persist between runs, and they are absolutely crucial if you’re looking to survive to the end of the game. Those upgrades? Runes.
Runes unlock abilities that let you explore areas you couldn’t reach before, akin to unlocking the double-jump in a Metroid game. There are four of these runes hidden in Dead Cells. We’ll show you where to find them.
VINE RUNE (Unlocks Plant Clumps)
You’re likely to find this rune just by playing the game. When you start out, you’ll probably stumble upon weird clumps of plant-looking things on the ground. You can interact with them but really all they’ll do is vibrate and sit there.
With the Vine Rune, these plant clumps can magically become climbable vines to access new areas.
Where do you find the Vine Rune?
In the Promenade of the Condemned area, which is the first area you reach after breaking out of the prison. You’ll want to keep an eye out for a rune with a large stone in the center of it. Approaching the stone will cause an elite enemy to appear. Kill that enemy, and you’ll snag the Vine Rune for all future runs.
TELEPORTATION RUNE (Unlocks Teleport Coffins)
After you find the Vine Rune, the next one is a bit trickier. Like the plant clumps, you’ll often spot standing coffins that allow you to, uh, rub them, but they do absolutely nothing beyond that. The Teleportation Rune lets you use these coffins as teleport stations, whisking you off to new areas that may have been previously blocked by walls.
Where do you find the Teleportation Rune?
In the Toxic Sewers. This is an area you can access from the Prison once you’ve unlocked the Vine Rune. At one point in the prison, you’ll find a plant clump that’ll lead up to the door to the Toxic Sewers. If you’re having a tough time finding it, just check the map and make sure you’ve explored every nook and cranny.
As with the Vine Rune, you’ll need to fight a specific elite monster in the Toxic Sewers (in a room with a large rock). Make sure you’re geared up and have plenty of health. Once you’ve taken the monster down, the Teleportation Rune will be yours.
RAM RUNE (Unlocks Glowing Ground Runes)
The next rune you’re going for will allow you to interact with those glowing runes you’ve probably found on the ground. Despite your best efforts to slam them or hit them with grenades they don’t seem to do much. That’s ‘cause you need the Ram Rune.
Where do you find the Ram Rune?
In the Ossuary. This is an area that can be accessed from the Promenade of the Condemned. If you go all the way to the end of the Promenade, you’ll find the elevator leading up to the Ramparts. Keep walking past the elevator, and you’ll reach a teleportation coffin. Use your newfound Teleportation Rune and the entrance to the Ossuary will be right there.
As before, you’ll have to find and defeat a special elite in the Ossuary. Once done, you’ll be able to slam down on those glowing ground runes, breaking the floor beneath you, allowing you to access the juicy goods below.
SPIDER RUNE (Unlocks Wall-jump and Wall-climb)
The final ability rune in Dead Cells is the Spider Rune. It’s arguably the most helpful of the bunch as it lets you run up, hang and jump off any wall. It’s also the hardest to get, requiring that you unlock all of the previous runes.
Where do you find the Spider Rune?
In Slumbering Sanctuary. To access this dangerous zone, you’ll need to follow a specific route that leads there. From the Prisoner’s Quarters, head to the Toxic Sewers (using the Vine Rune) and then into the Ancient Sewers (using the Ram Rune), then from the Ancient Sewers to the Insufferable Crypt. The Insufferable Crypt houses a tricky boss fight with a giant eye creature. Defeat it, and you’ll be able to head into the Slumbering Sanctuary.
The Slumbering Sanctuary is a beast of a zone and will require constant vigilance. Go slow and keep an eye out for your target. The elite holding the Spider Rune is at the bottom of a pit marked with a skull flag, so drop down and do your best to survive. For your trouble, you’ll nab the final major rune in the game.
BONUS: CHALLENGER RUNE (Daily Run)
There’s one more rune that you’ll probably find without our help, but you may be wondering what it does. The Challenger Rune unlocks the Daily Run mode in Dead Cells, which is ideal if you’re already an expert and you want to compete on the high score list. Odds are you’re not going to want to mess with it until you’ve unlocked most of the game’s secrets.
Where do you find the Challenger Rune? In the Black Bridge, which is accessible if you go from the Prisoner’s Quarters to the Promenade of the Condemned to the Ramparts and then to the Black Bridge.
Once there, you’ll face your first true “boss” in the game, The Concierge. He’s pretty overwhelming until you realize he’s really only got three moves to worry about. Until you’ve got him memorized, just try staying at range and picking away with arrows and traps, being mindful of his damaging leap, which you can roll under. Eventually he’ll fall, and you’ll get the Challenger Rune. It’s not super helpful early in the game but you’ll definitely make use of it later on.