Terry Cavanaugh is thought for making some robust video games. In case you’ve performed the likes of VVVVVV or Tremendous Hexagon, you’re little question acquainted with his distinctive model of simplistic and punishing sport design. That design is on full show, albeit in a totally new type, along with his newest mission, Dicey Dungeons. Right here, as a substitute of your reflexes, your strategic abilities are put to the take a look at as it’s important to get a bunch of residing cube by means of some punishing gauntlets of chance-based hell. It’s cute, it’s infuriating, and it’s dangerously gratifying.
Dicey Dungeons takes place in a weird sport present run by the embodiment of destiny herself, Girl Luck. Every of the six contestants has come to the sport present in pursuit of their best want, which may supposedly turn out to be theirs if solely they will ‘win’. The catch is that participation within the sport present requires every participant to be became a taking part in die and to battle their approach by means of a sequence of treacherous, shifting dungeons which are dominated by probability. And, within the off probability that they really make it to the tip of an episode, there’s at all times one other episode they’ve but to endure earlier than they completely win.
Although the narrative is generally simply there as a framing gadget for the limitless runs you’ll be making, it nonetheless introduces a number of improbable character into what can appear – on the floor – like a considerably shallow sport. Girl Luck performs the position of sport present host properly together with her charismatic, however subtly villainous character and the form of goofy, youngsters’ book-like humour and illustrations go a great distance in the direction of giving Dicey Dungeons its personal distinct flavour.
Gameplay takes the form of a turn-based RPG with roguelike and deckbuilding mechanics well woven in. Every episode you run by means of sees you going by means of six flooring of progressively tougher enemies which culminate in a tricky boss combat. Alongside the way in which, you decide up gear from outlets and defeated enemies, and also you’re normally given a good bit of leeway to resolve what path you’ll take to achieve the exit of every flooring. You don’t must defeat each enemy or open each chest, so your strategic abilities are put to work as you always weigh the prices and advantages. Do you combat that enemy so you possibly can entry the improve anvil behind it, or do you as a substitute rush for the exit? Do you combat the Snowman first or the Banshee? There are not any fallacious solutions, and the outcomes are at all times to some extent dictated by random probability, however your decisions at all times have penalties that have an effect on you later down the road.
If you’re in fight, your actions are dictated by a sequence of playing cards which every want sure cube numbers to activate. Some playing cards want even numbers, some playing cards want doubles. Some want a number of cube deposited over a number of turns, whereas some want rolls that fall underneath sure most thresholds. You roll three cube by default at first of every flip, and it’s your job to determine how you can finest make these rely along with your present hand. Typically you’ve got a flip the place the cube all go your approach, and also you knock out the enemy fully earlier than they also have a probability to behave. Typically the other occurs, and you are able to do mainly nothing however take some hits and hope for a greater turnout subsequent flip.
Success, then, is closely dependent in your means to arrange a correct deck. You’ll be able to solely have a max of six playing cards in your hand without delay, which retains issues easy and straightforward to handle whereas additionally making every card that rather more vital. Your inventory of six playing cards does not offer you a complete lot of room, so you actually need to suppose arduous about whether or not you actually want one other offensive card when one which grants you some well being restoration is perhaps a greater possibility. Your hand can also be one thing you should maintain iterating on because the run progresses. If, for instance, you’re planning on taking out a Snowman subsequent, it is perhaps good to swap in just a few playing cards that may inflict Fireplace injury to reap the benefits of his weak spot.
Regardless of how good you’re at constructing a deck, you’ll inevitably nonetheless take a number of injury, and that is the place the Restrict Break function is available in. After taking sufficient punishment, your character can set off a particular means which may drastically change the tide of battle. The Warrior, for instance, will get a capability that doubles the following motion you are taking, whereas The Witch can roll an additional three cube that flip. None of those strikes really feel game-breaking on their very own, however they actually will be in the correct circumstances, which retains each combat that rather more attention-grabbing.
The identical concept applies to the litany ‘hidden’ mechanics in fight, which may typically have drastic results on outcomes. For instance, one card enables you to mix two low-value cube into one high-value die. If the 2 cube add as much as greater than six, nonetheless, you’ll get one die with six and one with regardless of the the rest is. Little issues like this are by no means spelt out for you, however you’re positive to find them as you play, and this slow-growing data base offers you higher possibilities on subsequent runs. It’d all sound a bit difficult, however this fight system manages to strike a exceptional stability between simplicity and complexity. It at all times feels robust, however by no means insurmountable.
An enormous a part of what retains issues from getting too bleak is the breezy and concise nature of every run. There are not any extraneous parts right here. Every flooring solely has just a few enemies and rewards to work together with, and also you’re levelling-up your character once more after each two or three fights. In case you take your time, it nonetheless solely takes possibly twenty minutes to go from the primary flooring to beating the boss, and the problem curve alongside that journey is sort of completely judged. Shedding, then, feels much less such as you’re getting kicked all the way in which again down the mountain and extra like a minor setback. It doesn’t take very lengthy to get again to the place you have been, and also you in all probability realized a factor or two to make the journey again slightly simpler this time.
By itself, the fight system could be addictive sufficient, however issues get actually attention-grabbing if you understand how in a different way every character performs from the final. The Robotic, for instance, doesn’t begin every flip with three cube. As a substitute, they manually pull a brand new die with each faucet of the correct set off, and the quantity on every new die is added to a ‘CPU Meter’ subsequent to the playing cards. If the quantity on the meter goes over the restrict, all of the playing cards disappear and you may’t use any remaining cube. If it lands precisely on the restrict, a ‘Jackpot’ is triggered that permits you to decide from a sequence of bonus actions which don’t require any cube to make use of. Every of the six characters has a very completely different playstyle like this, which instils Dicey Dungeons with a enormous quantity of replayability. Issues by no means fully diverge from the essential perform of utilizing cube rolls to activate playing cards, however Cavanaugh has thought up some impressively artistic and enjoyable methods to iterate on that core concept.
Talking of replayability, every character has a complete of six episodes to beat, every of which has a ruleset which is tougher than the final. For instance, The Thief’s second episode sees him beginning each battle with a curse debuff, which provides every card a fifty per cent probability of failing. It goes away after it triggers as soon as, however having that curse hanging over you every battle makes you method actions in a very completely different approach. A lot akin to how the six characters increase how you consider the fight system, the six episodes increase how you consider taking part in every character, because the tweaked rulesets demand that you simply display mastery of the distinctive strengths and weaknesses of every class.
In case you haven’t gathered, Dicey Dungeons is the type of sport that delights in making you uncomfortable by forcing you to attempt new issues. One thing which works properly with one character may very well be catastrophic with one other, and one episode’s guidelines could fully torpedo the hand which carried you to victory final time. This concentrate on always prodding you to attempt new strategies and new play types is a giant a part of what makes Dicey Dungeons such an addictive and gratifying expertise, because it’s always discovering new methods to reinvent itself. That is all of the extra spectacular when you think about how repetitive the core gameplay loop proves itself to be. You’re at all times going by means of the identical motions of rolling cube and taking part in playing cards, however tweaking just a few guidelines right here or there makes for a sport which may really feel virtually fully completely different. Suffice to say, there’s fairly a little bit of gameplay selection right here, sufficient to gasoline dozens of hours of play.
This gratifying, ever-evolving sport design is supported by some exceptionally well-executed presentation, which helps make Dicey Dungeons appear as if an actual deal with because the hours fly by. Marlowe Dobbe’s storybook visuals convey a form of pleasant and cartoonish allure to the expertise that units it aside properly from its friends. Cutely drawn enemies congratulate you after you win a battle. Though the cube are all technically preventing for his or her lives, they at all times have huge smiles on their faces as they go from one combat to the following. These visuals are inviting and inspiring, at all times inviting you to come back again and check out yet another run. These chipper visuals are then backed by an amazingly catchy soundtrack from Chipzel, which mixes Home and Hip Hop parts to make for some killer tracks.