Saturday, September 11, 2021
While there are literally thousands of video games these days, there are a lot less different genres of video games, and some games play very much like each other. For example Humankind plays very much like Civilization, or, even more obviously, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous plays a lot like Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Finding a game that *doesn't* play like something else is a rarity these days: This year I can think of only two, Wildermyth and the freshly released Dice Legacy.
Dice Legacy calls itself a roguelike dice-based survival city builder, which is a handful. So is the game. My first recommendation, if you want to try it, would be to play your first game on easy difficulty. Otherwise you probably end up still trying to understand the mechanics of the game while some raiders burn down your whole city. In Dice Legacy you build a city/village/colony on a world that is the inside of a ring. So your map is not very wide, but quite long. The goal of the game is to extend your city once around the ring and capture the harbour building of the enemy at the other end.
To do that, you need to use your population, of which you can have only 12 (or slightly more, temporarily). But your population consists of dice in different colors. At the start, they are all peasant dice. Over time you can create citizen dice, soldier dice, merchant dice, and monk dice. Later you can even create custom construct dice. All the dice are 6-sided. You can only use the face showing up. For example a peasant has one "work" side, two "gather" sides, one "build" side, one "fight" side, and one "scout" side. Once a die is used, it becomes greyed out. You can roll your dice, which reactivates the greyed out ones, and gives you a random result on each of them.
The obvious difficulty with that is that if you need something specific fast, most often a "fight" result to battle some enemy raiders, you might not get that result on your roll and end up frantically rolling the dice several times. But each time you roll the dice, their durability goes down, and then you need to recover that with food. Basically Dice Legacy plays a bit like a worker placement board game, but with the randomness of dice, and the added pressure of stuff happening in real time.
Personally I like Dice Legacy very much. One negative review compares the game to a "timed IQ test". I would agree, but I see that more as a positive. This is *not* a casual game at all. You really need to think hard and fast to make it work in face of the randomness. The game is quite challenging, even at "standard" difficulty, and once you win a game like that, there are different ways to make it even harder.
Having said that, I'm pretty sure that I will play this for 10+ hours, and then uninstall it. Each game is only a few hours, and it does get repetitive, so there isn't all that much replay value. The "roguelike" aspect isn't really well designed: You can "ascend" dice and take up to 2 improved dice into your next game; but getting improved dice and ascending them is more or less already an end-game activity. If you set the difficulty too high and lose the game, you aren't likely to get to any ascended dice, and thus the next game isn't going to be any easier. The different rulers aren't adding much variety, and the different scenarios are more designed to be punishing in some way, instead of offering much variety.
So I definitively wouldn't recommend Dice Legacy to everybody. If you are okay to pay 20 bucks for 10 hours of very challenging puzzle gameplay, this might be the game for you. If you are looking for something more casual, or prefer action over thinking, then you might not be the target audience. The Steam reviews are "mixed" for that reason.