Dicefolk Review – Gotta Roll ’em All

Dicefolk Review - Gotta Roll 'em All

I have to admit, despite the deluge of roguelikes lately, I am still not tired of the formula. Why? Well, put simply, when the stars align, when the balance is found and when that sweet sweet gameplay loop is perfectly nailed, there is nothing quite as addictive. Of course, many don’t hit that level of perfection, and many miss by a little or a long way, but the idea of that perfect gaming addiction keeps me coming back, looking for the latest and greatest in the genre to get my fix. Dicefolk is the latest to capture my eye and while it doesn’t quite reach the highs of say Dead Cells or Hades, it certainly has its unique charms that captured me in its own way. 

Dicefolk has borrowed and merged a few different types of gameplay into its own adventure, taking elements from dice-based games, card games and Pokemon to create something different to everything else out there. Players start their run with three generic soldiers (called Chimeras in-game) these soldiers can then be replaced by other, more powerful Chimeras as you explore each stage. These Chimeras can then be customised with stat boosts, items and bonuses to give them an advantage over the enemy Chimeras you come across. There is a huge range of different Chimeras in the game, with even more unlocked as you progress further, and each is unique in its own way. Some have bonus magic, some hit multiple times and some are tanks that attract enemy attention. Knowing and using the abilities of the Chimera you are using is key to victory.

Speaking of victory, combat comprises a turn-based system based around dice rolls. The player rolls three dice, giving them attacks, buffs and moves based on what shows up. The dice can be altered and changed by finding and purchasing new ones outside of combat so players have some control over what shows up in the rolls. Each player takes their three Chimeras into battle and it is round over when one side loses all their combatants.  Swapping between active Chimeras and managing damage is essential as there is no automatic healing after the battle, it needs to be found or purchased in the game’s map, so there could be long stretches between any healing at all. It makes for a nice strategic shuffle, with acceptable risk and smart tactics becoming second nature as players get more familiar with the game. 

Graphically, the game keeps a simple, cartoony style that works well but doesn’t always impress. I get the stylistic choice to go down this path, and for the most part, it is more than ok but there are instances where things don’t seem to sit quite right. Some of the Chimera designs seem a little uninspired and even though you unlock more battle locations as you go, the environments all feel very similar, with little apart from a palette swap separating them. This is, of course, understandable considering the game was made by a small team, so I am hardly down on the game because of it, but it is worth mentioning if only to help set expectations. 

The other concern I have with the game is longevity. It is a simple concept done exceedingly well, but that simplicity has its downfall. There is little in the way of variety, especially after a few runs, so things can become stale. I found myself at about the 8-hour mark feeling like things were starting to get very samey. This could be due to the nature of reviewing games, playing them all in a big chunk so fatigue sets in quickly. I feel like this is the perfect game to play in small doses. A run here, a run there so to speak. Thankfully it is Steam Deck verified and also (as expected) works fantastically on the ROG Ally which is the perfect system for this sort of pick-up/put-down game.

One thing the game absolutely nails is the roguelike progression and reward system. So often these games are let down by these systems being out of balance and players being rewarded too quickly or too slowly. The devs here have absolutely nailed the timing for handing out rewards with each run giving players just enough to keep coming back for more and giving them something new, even if it is only little, each time they start the game. Some of the unlocks include new starting totems, which lead to different Chimeras, new environments, new enemies, and new world events. Each of which is worth seeing at least once. 

Dicefolk is a great little roguelike that never reaches the highs of some of the pillars of the genre but nonetheless provides a unique and entertaining experience that should get its hooks in a lot of people. It is perfectly made for on-the-go gaming, playing on the bus or in the car, when you have 20 mins before a meeting or just to help you wind down before bed and as a result, I can see this being the sort of game that people always have installed, regardless of how long it has been since they played it. With mobile gaming having fully wandered into the realm of horrible gatcha garbage, this sort of experience has been few and far between so I feel compelled to congratulate the developers on filling that hole in the market. I for one appreciate it. 

Dicefolk was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by the publisher. 

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