By Josh Speer / August 19th, 2019
|Developer||Terry Cavanagh, Marlow Dobbe, chipzel|
|Release Date||August 13th, 2019|
|Genre||Strategy, Dungeon Crawler|
I decided to play Dicey Dungeons at E3 this year on a whim. At that time, I had no idea it was by the madman behind VVVVVV, Terry Cavanagh, or that it had music by chipzel or art by Marlow Dobbe. All I knew was I liked the rogue genre and it had giant dice fighting through dungeons. That was enough to pique my interest. But now that I’ve been playing the game pretty much non-stop since I got the review code, how do I actually feel about Dicey Dungeons? Let’s roll the dice and find out.
The setting of the game is a sort of twisted, infernal game show. It’s run by none other than Lady Luck, and as gamblers worldwide can attest, she’s a real bitch. She transforms all the contestants into giant dice and then hurls them through several floors full of monsters and lackeys to win their heart’s desire. Even when they win, the odds are against them, at least until you are able to change the mind of her head minion, the Jester. Then things start to change, and you begin to see a way out. But it’s a long road to that point, and it’s full of delightful insanity.
At the beginning, you can only select the Warrior. He’s the most basic and easy to understand character, but you’ll eventually unlock 5 others (well, technically 6). There’s also the Thief, Robot, Inventor, Witch and Jester. The 7th kinda sorta character is the Bear, but you can only play as him by stealing a magical potion as the Thief. While the Warrior is best for starting out, each other character gets progressively more complex than the one before it, and the difficulty of playing them is denoted with stars. The hardest to play is the Witch, and she’s no joke. This review would have been done sooner but I had this stupid itch to beat the game as her once, and several hours later, I still haven’t succeeded.
Which brings us to the difficulty of Dicey Dungeons. This is not for the faint of heart. Not only are the odds stacked against you, they’re so stacked you can easily die in the first floor of a dungeon. Considering there’s only 6 floors total, that’s a challenge. But it’s not an unreasonable one, so long as you comprehend each character’s unique mechanics. Though they’re all very different, they share some similarities. Each one attacks by using dice to activate attacks and cast spells. Another commonality is the Limit Break. After taking enough damage, this meter will be charged, and you’re given the opportunity to use a powerful special ability. For the Warrior, you get to deal double damage with a Fury attack, whereas the Thief uses Unlucky Roll to create 4 extra dice with a value of one each. Each character also levels up as you defeat enemies, granting you more dice to use each turn of combat, as well as increasing your base health. Other than that though, things are gonna vary dramatically.
Each character is essentially its own unique way to play Dicey Dungeons, and even has unique equipment they’re more likely to find in chests strewn throughout the labyrinth. Take the Thief for example. He lacks the impressive damage output of the Warrior, but trades it for reusable multi-attack skills such as the Dagger. He essentially needles opponents to death, whittling them down 1 HP at a time. He’s also very adept at using Poison skills. But where he gets really interesting is his ability to randomly steal an attack from enemies at the start of every turn. If you’re fighting a snowball hurling snowman, the Thief will get to toss snowballs back at him. Or take the Inventor instead, who deconstructs a piece of her equipment each turn to build a new free to use Gadget. Then there’s the Witch, who has a book of spells she can place and cast at will, so long as she rolls the proper dice corresponding to a specific spell value. It’s a very, very complex game, despite the basic loop being pretty simple. You grind through 6 floors, fight enemies, level up, choose new equipment and try and beat the boss at the very end. The foes and bosses you face are completely random too, and there’s something like 60 unique flavors. If nothing else, you won’t get bored playing Dicey Dungeons at all.
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