Steam Cleaning #13: Dicey Dungeons

Dicey Dungeons is a roguelite game of chance and strategy with a sense of humor and a short, pick-up-and-play style. In other words, it’s right up my alley.

As someone who has over a hundred hours in popular roguelite game Slay the Spire, this game immediately spoke to me. Turn-based battles with a random array of enemies? Check. An evolving ‘deck-building style of play’? Check. Different archetypes and special challenges to keep things fresh? Check! It’s easier to talk about the things Dicey Dungeons does differently.

Rather than being a pure turn-based deck builder, Dicey Dungeons gives the player a dice pool. The player then uses those dice to trigger ‘equipment,’ which consists of selected abilities that accumulate during a run. This system is extremely intuitive, and it feels really good to find equipment that combos together and crushes foes with ease.

One the player has learned the system, things get more complicated. New characters bring variety, like the robot that plays dice-Blackjack while rolling up their dice pool or the inventor that constantly cycles out equipment to create powerful disposable gadgets. Each character also has several trials with special rules, and there are even more challenges in the free DLC offerings. Each different challenge run has plenty of variety.

This variety nearly covers up the game’s one shortfall. Because Dicey Dungeons is so easy to get into, and because the runs are so short, the game can feel stunted at times. By the time I get a good engine going with my equipment, the run is over. Slay the Spire, to comparison, has runs that can take nearly an hour to complete. Dicey Dungeons con send you through a run in less than half that time, depending on the character.

The short run time is not necessarily a bad thing. The short commitment makes it easy to start a run, easy to fail one, and (as the challenges get harder) a challenge to survive. But if the player is looking for a long, arduous process that will build a beautiful and nuanced deck of abilities, look elsewhere. The player can select at most six equipment to bring into battle per fight. That’s a good demonstration of what this game tries for. It’s not complicated at all, and there’s only so much you can do to build your loadout.

Yet despite its accessibility, Dicey Dungeons offers a surprising amount of depth to match its variety. My first time playing as the ‘witch’ character astounded me with how difficult and nuanced the choices were. I will be coming back to this one again and again to unlock more and more runs, and see how deep the mechanics can get.

Verdict: Over six hours played so far, with many more to come!

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