Dicey Dungeons review: Well, there goes another 100 hours of my life


The central premise of Dicey Dungeons, the new dice-chucking roguelike from acclaimed developer Terry Cavanagh (VVVVVV, Super Hexagon) is that you are a walking, talking die starring in a twisted game show in which you must endlessly fight your way through an ever-changing dungeon in a desperate attempt to earn your freedom. That freedom, of course, will never come.

Apart from the whole “sentient die in a game show” thing, it’s a pretty apt metaphor for my experience with the highly addictive modern roguelike genre (or “roguelite,” depending on how uppity you want to get). I’ve poured a frankly troubling amount of hours into games like The Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells, and Slay the Spire, the latter of which you may hear used in descriptions of Dicey Dungeons. It’s not an altogether indefensible comparison—they feel similar in some ways—but the games are ultimately quite different.

Slay the Spire combined the board-game-famous mechanic of deckbuilding with the “just one more run” addictiveness of a roguelike dungeon crawler to make, in this author’s estimation, a damn-near perfect game. Dicey Dungeons yoinks Slay the Spire’s general setup—traipsing around a branching map to take part in turn-based, permadeath battles against monsters—but instead of constructing a deck of cards through play, you’re piecing together a set of “equipment” that you activate with standard six-sided dice.

Roll them bones

The game rolls your dice for you at the start of each turn—you begin each run with two, but you get more as you level up—and you can then assign your dice to your equipment as you see fit. The starting character, the warrior, starts each game with a sword, which lets you deal damage equal to the numerical value of the die placed on it. The warrior also gets a “combat roll” ability that allows you to do three re-rolls (it is, after all, the starting character).

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