Dicey Dungeons wrings an incredible amount of complexity out of six-sided dice, creating a strategic, challenging roguelike using its deceptively simple die rolls.
Dicey Dungeons pits you against Lady Luck (literally), having you comb through procedural dungeons as you try to overcome her monstrous (and often, quite cute) servants. All you need to do this is a handful of dice you’ll roll each round, which you can then put to work powering the various abilities your chosen class has.
I was not prepared for just how complicated slotting die rolls could be. Dicey Dungeons gives you a ton of varied abilities, and rolling high is not always the best way to use them. You roll however many dice your character has at the beginning of each round, and you can then slot these die rolls into your abilities. Some of these abilities will do 1 damage per number on the roll, but some of these powers max out at a certain number (like a 3), or only work with even or odd numbers, or have specific effects at certain numbers. Also, you have powers that allow you to split die rolls or alter them.
The result of these powers is a ton of variety in what you can do each round, as well as some complex strategy involved in just how you intend to use your dice every turn. What is the optimum use of your rolls? How can you best utilize each die? It’s something that got really in-depth within a few minutes of playing the Pax East demo, and this deep thought loaded every turn with a fun thoughtfulness. There’s no spamming a powerful attack, but instead this clever need to think about how to best use every turn.
These dice possibilities grow more complex from the various classes you can play as. The knight had some standard abilities, but the Thief lets you steal a power from your foes each turn, adding even more combat options to factor in. The robot lets you play a risky game of blackjack to earn more dice. Every element of the game builds upon the dice and using them strategically, creating a game of endless option-weighing. This cleverness made every turn deeply involved, and made it quite difficult to set the game down.
That this all combines with some charming, cheerful music and a soft, playful art style that moves away from the typical seriousness that comes with sword-and-sorcery settings, and you have an extremely solid roguelike. Dicey Dungeons looks and sounds great, and also drags you in deep with each passing turn, having you juggle and weigh new options each round. It’s magical and involved, and something I expect to lose hours into when I get the full version in my hands.
DISCLOSURE – Editor Thomas Faust did some translation work on Dicey Dungeons. This has not affected our decision to cover the game in any way.