The white-knuckled action roguelike Dead Cells has introduced a bunch of expansions, but none of them have gotten the fanfare of its latest, Return to Castlevania. The new expansion adds biomes, enemies, characters, and weapons modeled by the classic series Castlevania, which developer Motion Twin says was a big influence on its own game. But how exactly to find the new Castlevania content isn’t immediately apparent.
The level design in Dead Cells is mostly structured, but with some random elements. As you venture through the main quest you’ll come across branching paths leading to different biomes. Like the other Dead Cells expansions, the new Castlevania content is integrated into the existing biomes, so you’ll have to find the entrances. We say entrances, plural, because the content is spread across at least two separate runs.
Beginning the Return to Castlevania
If you’re starting from a fresh save, you’ll need to complete three runs. After your third run, the Prisoner’s Quarters–the opening area–will have glass bottles hanging from the ceiling showing off the equipment you’ve unlocked. At that point, upon entering the combat area of the stage, you’ll get a short cutscene where a colony of bats will fly by. That’s your cue that the entrance to Castlevania is ready to discover.
To find it, simply explore the Prisoner’s Quarters thoroughly. Eventually you’ll run into Richter Belmont standing in front of a door to the Castlevania area. Proceed and start killing monsters.
Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania is still a roguelike, so if you die you’ll need to start over with your basic equipment, and find the entrance all over again. On subsequent runs Richter will no longer be there to greet you at the entrance, but you will get to know the telltale Castlevania-like staircase that leads to the biome entrance. Also, after you’ve lowered the castle drawbridge, it will be lowered permanently, which will save you a little time on further runs.
It wouldn’t be a Castlevania without a fake-out ending, though, so just when it seems like you’re making it to Dracula’s inner sanctum, you’ll instead face his faithful servant, Death. Defeating Death gives you a powerful new piece of equipment, Death’s Scythe, but gets you no closer to facing Dracula. At that point Alucard will tell you that he needs to investigate further and you’ll be funneled back into the main Dead Cells campaign. At that point you can feel free to continue with the main campaign, or just die quickly to go back to the start where you can continue the Castlevania campaign.
Finding the Master’s Keep
Once you complete the run in which you defeated Death, you’ll be greeted by Alucard upon starting fresh in the Prisoner’s Quarters. He’ll tell you that the entrance to the Master’s Keep is accessible via the Clock Tower, since it echoes a similar Clock Tower from his own world.
At that point, the game will also warn you that you can only enter the Castlevania content once per run. That means that if you go into the first entrance, from the Prisoner’s Quarters, you won’t be able to find the second entrance. So skip the main entrance and proceed through Dead Cells as normal. The Clock Tower is the fifth biome, accessible via Stilt Village or the Slumbering Sanctuary. That means you’ll have to make it through quite a bit of the regular game to reach the final area of the Castlevania content, and there are no shortcuts.
Once you reach the Clock Tower, proceed to the boss area, called the Clock Room. Once you’ve defeated the Time Keeper, the door behind him will lead to the second area of Castlevania. It will be labeled as Dracula’s Castle again, but this will be a different part of the castle that includes a door to the Master’s Keep.
This area is significantly harder, with tougher enemies and the ever-present threat of Dracula. He shows up, and can’t be hurt, and he’ll introduce random elements like swarms of bats, fireballs, and even temporarily flipping the castle upside down. Explore that biome to find the final area, where you’ll do battle with Dracula himself.
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