The Roguelike genre continues to evolve thanks to pairing Roguelike elements with other game styles. Moonlighter essentially turned The Legend of Zelda into a Roguelike. Into the Breach was a Roguelike twist on Advance Wars that added infinite replayability. Slay the Spire drew from the deck-building genre of tabletop games and applied the Roguelike template to it to create a wildly-addicting game I couldn’t put down for 100+ hours.
Showing the world that the Roguelike still has a lot of room to grow, Dicey Dungeons draws from the world of dice games for yet another new take on the genre.
Taking place in a twisted game show where contestants must fight through deadly dungeons in hopes of seeing their wildest dreams come true, all of the game’s combat is handled through dice. At the start of each turn, you will roll a set of dice and then allocate those dice to actions, such as attacks, shields, health regeneration, and so on.
Some of these abilities are fairly straightforward to use. For example, a sword simply doles out damage equivalent to the die value used. But as you make progress through the dungeons and unlock new equipment, you’ll discover that there’s a lot of nuance for how dice can be used.
For example, you usually can’t spam your most powerful attack in order to win. Many attacks can only be used once-per-turn. Some require even or odd values to activate. A few abilities require you to cash in pairs. Some require you to invest a large sum across multiple turns in order to trigger a game-changing ability. On top of all that, your initial roll might not get you the values you need to trigger all of your actions on every turn.
The luck of the dice won’t always be on your side, but you can strategize around that for better results. Many abilities that are either inherently tied to your hero class or gear that you’ll earn along the way can modify your dice values. As an example, I initially thought the Six Shooter weapon was useless, as it could only be activated with a die valued at six. To compensate, I augmented my warrior class with abilities that allowed it to modify dice to create more sixes. Doing so allowed me to blast my way through my first run.
Beyond the abilities you unlock during the course of play, each hero has their own unique mechanic that makes them play wildly different from one another. The starter Warrior class has access to a combat roll, which essentially gives them the Yahtzee rule of being able to reroll a die up to three times.
Meanwhile, the Robot starts with zero dice each turn, but has to play a press-your-luck mini game to determine how many dice you’ll get and what values they’ll be. If you’re able to generate a value of exactly 11, you’ll unlock access to some incredibly powerful abilities. But if you go over, you lose all of your dice for the turn. With six different heroes to unlock, there’s a lot of unique ways to play!
By virtue of every action being tied to D6 dice, the overall depth of the gameplay isn’t on the same level as something like Slay the Spire. Nevertheless, I found it to be incredibly enjoyable for many of the same reasons. Even with the randomness of dice in play, players are given a lot of interesting decisions to make with regards to how build up their characters and how they distribute their dice from turn-to-turn. Once I start playing, it’s really hard to put down.
Once you unlock all of the characters, there’s still more work to be done. Each character has six episodes to play through that increase the difficulty and modify the base experience in unique ways. At some point, I would love to see some sort of daily challenge added as well to give players more reasons to return.
Last but not least is the game’s presentation. Its colourful and cartoony graphics are pleasing to the eye, but the music is the real star of the show. Composed by Chipzel, the uptempo chiptune soundtrack of the game rocks. As someone who has grown accustomed to mostly playing Roguelike games while listening to something else, I don’t mind cracking the game volume all the way up for this one.
Though I might have scratched my head at the initial thought of playing Roguelike Yahtzee, Dicey Dungeons proves that the combination works surprisingly well. A lot of thought was put into making its dice-based mechanics work as well as they do here, making for a satisfying and unique dungeon crawl.
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