Dicefolk Review


Dicefolk review hero

It would be hard to place Dicefolk into a single genre. It has elements reminiscent of creature collectors, rogue-likes, dice drafters, and turn-based tactical games. It’s often the case that the more hyphens you need to add to a game’s genre, the more convoluted and confused the gameplay becomes. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Dicefolk. It manages to craft all of these elements into a unique experience with a surprising depth of strategy.

In the game, you play as Alea, a young Dicefolk hero who has the ability to befriend creatures known as Chimera. With her magical dice and squad of Chimera, she sets off on a quest to free her land from the curse placed on it by the evil Salem and save her people.

The game’s overworld is a simple grid-like map. You are free to move along the lines at will, but will come to a stop at any node marked as a special location. You’ll know what awaits at each of these locations – be it a vendor, Chimera shrine, battle encounter, etc. – so you can plan your moves accordingly.


Overworld map

When you enter into battle, you’ll see two circles on the ground. Placed around the perimeter of the circle on the left will be your Chimera, while the enemy Chimera will be placed around the circle on the right. At the beginning of each round, both sides will cast their dice. Each die has an action on each face, so your available actions each round are determined at random.


Battle in the snow

The Chimera on the far-right edge of your circle is your active Chimera, as is the Chimera on the far-left of the enemy’s circle. When you select to play one of your dice, the action will be performed by the active Chimera. Dice actions include various kinds of attacks and guards, as well as the ability to rotate your circle which will move another one of your Chimera into the active position.

You can play your dice in any order, as well as the dice of your enemy. Dicefolk’s tactical twist is that you make the enemy team’s moves as well as your own. You have to work your strategy on multiple levels – maximizing the effect of your dice while minimizing that of the enemy’s dice. There is still some uncertainty in the dice, though – for example, a rotate action can move a circle in a random direction. You’ll also have to contend with the special abilities of the Chimera in the battle. These abilities can be triggered by events such as rotating into or out of the leader position, or the end of a round.

Once all of the dice have been played, the next round begins and the dice are rolled again. Play proceeds like this until one side loses all of its Chimera. If you win, you return to the map to select the next location that you will visit. Your Chimera won’t heal on their own between battles, though, so it’s generally not a good idea to jump into another battle immediately after emerging from one. If you’re on the losing side, then it’s game over. This is a rouge-like, after all. You can complete a successful run in under an hour, though, so while it always hurts to lose you won’t be losing a week’s worth of play or anything like that. Learn from your mistakes and try again.


Time to rotate

When you visit a shrine, you’ll be given the opportunity to recruit a new Chimera. Your team is limited to three Chimera, though, so you’ll have to part with one of your Chimera to make room for the new one should you choose to keep it. It’s not simply the case of taking every Chimera you see with a higher attack rating or a higher max health – you need to look for synergies in their special abilities to build a strong team.

In addition to your team, you’ll also be able to modify your dice as you play. Dice Smiths will offer new faces for sale that you can purchase to replace one of the sides on one of your die. Again, you need to be smart about which actions you place on your dice, and on which die each one should be placed.

You’ll also be able to find and buy equipment for use in battle – single-use gear that can provide buffs or healing during a battle. You won’t find anything game-changing, but a little boost here and there sometimes can make a difference between being able to finish a fight or having to start all over again.


Dicefolk merchant

Dicefolk is really all about the battles. If you’re looking for a full RPG experience, you’ll probably be disappointed. There’s not much to the story and very little world-building. However, strategy gamers are in for a treat. The unique battle mechanics provide for plenty of tactical depth, and there’s enough of a random element to keep you on your toes and make the battles more than just puzzles to be solved. The rogue-like elements and the randomness between runs work to keep things fresh. If you enjoy tactical games, but are a little burned-out on the turn-based RPG battle format, take Dicefolk out for a roll.

Final Rating: 85% - Roll the dice on this one, you’ll like the result.

 

Note: A review code for Dicefolk was provided by the publisher. It was reviewed on PC.