Developer: Terry Cavanagh, Distractionware
Publisher: Terry Cavanagh, Distractionware
Genre: Roguelike, Dungeon Crawler
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 10/07/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
It’s About Time We Got a Roguelike, Deck-Building, Dice-Based Game.
It’s not very often a video game captures the imagination of everyone in my household. We are a massive board gaming family so that may have helped somewhat, giving the themes of this interesting little Nintendo Switch title. Dicey Dungeons, as the title suggests combines two of the greatest things in gaming; dice and yes you guessed it, dungeons. It feels like someone has definitely been peeking at my Christmas list. With a lot of dice and random dungeons, count me in!
Dicey Dungeons by Terry Cavanagh and Distractionware is a dice-based, roguelike with a lot of charm and heart. As I said earlier, someone must be watching me from above because I love roguelikes and I adore board games. This game is already halfway to being a winner in my book. As long as it does not turn out to be complete tosh we are golden. Otherwise, I will have to go and sob into a large glass of eggnog.
Roll and Re-roll Your Way To Victory!
Dicey Dungeons is a roguelike, so you will be doing normal roguelike things. Random dungeon layouts, upgrades, loot and ever-changing foes will litter every run you undertake. It’s how the game is presented and how dice are used to great effect which makes Dicey Dungeons not only my favourite roguelike of the year but it easily gets onto my top 10 games of the year too. In a year where we had Spelunky 2, to say this game is my favourite roguelike of the year is a massive win for this lovely title and a hint to the outcome of this review.
Each run into the ever-changing dungeon is set out like a game show. You pick your contestant out of six plucky possible combatants which are unlocked over the course of your many jaunts into the dungeon. You then proceed through six randomly generated floors, battle the boss and come out of the other side either clinging on to a minuscule slither of health or looking at your broken build of powers, laughing at all the bodies you piled up with you ever-growing arsenal. Breaking roguelikes is my favourite thing to do, sometimes, just sometimes, your combination of loot and upgrades makes you feel like an all-powerful god. Making each battle just seem like a mere bump in the road and a small excuse to lay waste to all that opposes you.
Take On Lady Luck
Dicey Dungeons works on dice rolls, no shock there. It is, however, a magnificent system and one I am surprised has not been implemented before. I even think a real-world board game version would also be amazing. You roll your allotted amount of dice, which increases as you level up and them assign them to your currently equipped powers and abilities. Some powers require certain numbers, some require an odd or even number and some even require a high number that counts down as you add dice to it.
This system is good enough alone but once you start to add powers to nudge dice, split dice, duplicate dice it starts to become not only a logical puzzle but a test of strategy, planning and mathematical probability. It’s completely addictive and utterly ingenious. I have not even got into the fact that each character has separate skills to find, special abilities and systems all of their own. All of these creases and quirks, along with a very malleable battle system work in unison to create one of the most rewarding and fun battle systems I have encountered for a while, it reminds me a bit of Slay the Spire and that is by no means a bad thing. Slay the Spire is awesome.
When Your Build Works, It’s Beautiful
It has that quirky quality I love in gaming where a game makes you feel that you have achieved something smart. Dicey Dungeons gives you many tools to succeed but it is how you bend them to your will, how you execute them in the correct order that will determine your success. When you do achieve this, when you have worked out your turn to perfection it feels amazing, it makes you feel like Albert Einstein and it is an amazing feeling that keeps you coming back for one more play. Just talking about it is making me scan my living room for my Nintendo Switch, where is it? One more run won’t hurt, will it?
An Uncanny Roster of Dice Based Characters
As I said above, each character is very different. From different specials to varying abilities, each character takes a period of adjustment and a different approach to conquering the game. However, as in most roguelikes, you must be able to adapt at any moment, you must be able to change your plans if a powerful upgrade or ability shows up in a shop or as a loot drop.
Take the robot character for example, who is my current favourite. He does not roll dice but has a CPU limit, each time you activate it, it rolls dice and starts to fill the CPU meter. The CPU meter fills by whatever number is rolled on the dice but once it exceeds the CPU limit, you bust and cannot assign your dice to any powers. It takes the normal dice rolling of other characters and adds a push-your-luck aspect to it. If you hit the CPU limit perfectly you hit jackpot and his special ability activates. Roll into this certain abilities to manipulate your CPU meter and the robot is a character that has his own built-in minigame. It’s awesome and I had many fun broken runs with him.
Unique, Hand-Drawn Art
Dicey Dungeons has a captivating look, it is beautiful and has a very stark, unique art-style. It sounds great too with each character having unique sound effects and catchy music. All these features fold into each other to give the game a very comic-like beautiful presentation that I cherished. The game ran perfectly too, I had no crashes, no bugs and no issues to report whatsoever. I love that, in an era of a lot of buggy games, it’s really pleasant to play something that just works well and is so much fun.
A Perfect Blend of Roguelike and Board Game
I knew Dicey Dungeons had the potential to be a good game, it has all the hallmarks of a game I would like. What I did not expect though is how much I loved it, how amazing it was and how much it captivated my entire family. Especially my two boys who, between you and me, I have never seen so quiet. They are just sat there discussing probability, tactics and how to make the most out of each roll of the dice.
I adored having the game on my Switch, I can do small runs when I am in bed or out and about, it’s the perfect system for the game. Dicey Dungeons is magnificent, will not take up too much of your time and I am thoroughly in love with it. I wholeheartedly recommend it to roguelike fans, board game fans or anyone who wants something different to play.
Rapid Reviews Rating
If you would like to purchase Dicey Dungeons on the Nintendo EShop, you can here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.