The Battle UI in Dicey Dungeons

Dicey Dungeons is the latest title from Terry Cavanagh and his team, best known for the difficult games Super Hexagon and VVVVVV. It’s a hybrid dice rolling and roguelike game that is jam-packed full of charm. 

You take control of dice that each embody different specialized tropes. Like a thief who can use steal powers of your enemies, or an inventor who incessantly invents new cards. It’s set in what feels like an adorable and friendly juxtaposition of 70s era game-show and children’s board book. Well, the “friendly” is only surface level—the host, Lady Luck, has you trapped, forcing you to play a rigged game forever.

Your goal is to acquire cards, defeat enemies, and level up, as you battle your way to the final boss. In battles, you roll dice and drop them onto cards that have different effects, like your attacks, magical abilities, or other things to spice up the fight. You need to make judgment calls when deck building as you progress like, do you take a big fire attack or a small poison attack that stacks?

This is a game of patient trial and error, really. In each playthrough, you go down different routes with your builds, to get to the final boss. When I fail, failure actually feels good. It’s not pure RNG that determines your failure; that would make it unsatisfying. However, when I fail, I usually can tell where I’ve gone wrong with a build. Perhaps it’s overspecializing in poison, not bringing anything along to deal with limited health, or not having a card to deal with extra dice on the table.

I’ve previously said that I’m not much of a roguelike player, but Dicey Dungeons does a pretty good job of making me feel relaxed in the genre. Most critical decisions—visiting a shop, or picking up loot—are limited to simple “either/or” scenarios, like choosing between an ice or fire attack card. I’ve never encountered a giant screen of options that I need to choose just one thing from, which would cause frictive indecision that would ultimately make an anxious person like myself grow weary of the game.

This game has a lot of repeat playthrough potential too. There are six characters, with six episodes per character, and each one changes their base traits in what seems to be simple ways. The changes in each episode actually have a dramatic effect on how you approach that run with that dice friend.

According to Steam, I’m now 10 hours into Dicey Dungeons, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in it. Thus far I’ve had successful playthroughs of the first episode for all the dice friends, and have gotten through a few second episodes too. It’ll be a game I continually pick up and try to through casually. Dicey Dungeons is available on itch.io for Windows, macOS, and Linux, and includes a Steam key.

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The gameplay screen of Realms of Requiem, featuring the main gameplay UI as Hegar Darnish.

You awake in a dry desert. Your mind is shattered and your memories are broken. For a second, everything goes blank. Who are you? Where are you from? Even when you try your hardest to remember, only parts are able to be recalled, at least in your current state.

These are the opening lines of Realms of Requiem, a pixel art roguelike by SlickRamen. While I’m no roguelike expert, this opening prose convinced me to dive in.

In each new game, Realms of Requiem allows you the choice of three random characters so you can choose someone that fits your play style. For example, you can play as a magic-focused mage, or a warrior with a dominant primary attack. After you pick your character, you must learn your weapon and the right combination of base action, and primary traits, and secondary traits to survive the world. As is a tradition for a roguelike, the enemy difficulty increases level by level, requiring you save and upgrade your kit to survive more levels below.

My early attempts ended in failure, but I kept trying characters until I found one that fit me—a dwarf warrior equipped with a longsword. I had to figure out what items were most essential, and how to manipulate the enemies. In later levels, enemy difficulty and progression became a little flat for me as I understood the framework and wrapped my head around enemy behavior, but saving for better weapons was essential for the final level.

Realms of Requiem was made in under a week during the Bored Pixels Jam 4 game jam. The pixel art of Realms of Requiem is excellent—which makes sense for a game made for a pixel art game jam. Additionally, the game’s UI is pixel-forward, well polished, and looks great for a game of this small scope.

You may enjoy Realms of Requiem if you enjoy games like Binding of Isaac, but set in a fantasy setting. Realms of Requiem is available on itch for Windows. I played for about an hour, and my successful playthrough took about twenty minutes.