Day three of any conference is going to be a rough time. The initial excitement is gone, the exhibits are old hat, and you still have miles of walking ahead of you. It can be rough for those in attendance and for those working the show, trying to remain professional while completely exhausted. This year, wandering through the hall in this fugue state, I went to the Indiecade booth and played Dicey Dungeons. Turns out, Terry Cavanagh’s new roguelike creation is the perfect pick me up after a long E3.
At its core, Dicey Dungeons is similar to something like Slay the Spire. You move on a simple grid board, getting into battles and finding chests as you go. As the name might suggest, dice rolls drive every action, and not even the fancy kind. Simple six-sided die fuel every attack and spell, and it seems like the game rings every possible action out of this concept right off the bat.
There are simple attacks where your dice roll equal damage. There are charging attacks where you need to add dice together to unleash a large pool of damage. There are status effects that can “burn” the dice, which makes you take damage if you need to use them. Abilities can combine dice, reroll them, or discard them. You collect attacks as you progress through the dungeon, and you can swing as many time as your rolls support.
On top of this variety, there are currently six distinct characters with their own unique suites of attacks. I first played the basic warrior, which plays as you’d expect. After going through the short demo once, I restarted as a robot who doesn’t roll at all when you start. Instead, he summons dice at the press of a button, but only up to a certain total of points. Get two sixes and you’re out of luck for the turn, but hit exactly the limit and you get bonus actions in addition to your attacks.
If that wasn’t enough variety, each enemy has their own thematically appropriate attacks to take you on. A porcupine can roll for 1s to get a bunch of quick needle shots, while a laser gun wielder has to build up dice before dealing half your health. I barely ran into a repeat in my half hour of playtime, bringing to mind games like Undertale. This is a game with seemingly endless unique encounters, at least at first glance.
I assure you, writing about these mechanics make them sound way more complicated than they are in motion. There are few games that I’ve picked up as quickly as Dicey Dungeons. It has the pick-up and play nature of a grade school pastime, but with the complexity of the roguelike greats. Anyone who’s into procedurally generated fun should keep a close look on Dicey Dungeons before release this summer. If nothing else, it’s the perfect cooldown after a long week at the “office.”
TechRaptor previewed Dicey Dungeons at E3 2019 inside the Indiecade booth.