There have been a lot of interesting and sometimes groundbreaking genre hybrids through the years. Video game innovation is one of my favorite things, and I love it when developers take risks with storytelling or gameplay mechanics. Dice Legacy is a mixture of two gameplay mechanics I never thought I’d see combined: dice rolling, and city builder. And it ends up being pretty interesting.
Dice Legacy is a city building game with roguelike elements where dice represent your population, and what tasks they can perform. Your goal is to create a colony that can survive the harsh and mysterious ring world you find yourself on. If you hear “ring world” and think Larry Niven or Halo, you’d be right: Dice Legacy takes place on a procedurally generated ring. At first Dice Legacy is all about building a settlement and surviving the harsh winter, but soon you’ll be sending out your people on missions of exploration to uncover powerful artifacts, and even mysterious but hostile settlements.
Mechanically, Dice Legacy plays like you would expect a city builder: you have to gather resources and make sure your population is fed, warm, and therefore happy. Unlike other city builders, harvesting materials or constructing buildings isn’t as easy as pressing a button: you have to have the proper roll for it. For instance, if you want to build a building, you have to have rolled the construction icon—if none of your dice are showing construction, you have to reroll your dice until you get the one you want. Dice can be specialized with certain buildings, with some dice being better at combat, and others better at research. You start out with a number of “peasant” dice, or dice that represent basic workers—they aren’t specialized in any one thing, but they can do a number of different tasks. You can only reroll these dice a finite amount of time before they “perish” (the game amusingly avoids saying “die” here) unless you replenish their dice rolls by feeding them.
Dice Legacy’s mechanics were a little hard to wrap my head around. Not only do dice represent the possible work I could do, they’re also my people: that means they have to be taught, fed, and healed if sick or injured. If your dice are deployed in the winter, and there isn’t sufficient heat to keep them warm: they are frozen unless thawed in the tavern, or in the heat of springtime. It can feel a little strange rolling dice in hopes of getting the icon you want. Even when you do get the rolls you want, tasks aren’t completed instantly. And if you have too many dice, you will have to deftly juggle your dice so they’re out working instead of taking up dice space—because once there isn’t room for a die, it’s dead.
In my hands-on time with Dice Legacy I only had access to one of six planned rulers. Each of these rulers has their own special ability called a “Wager” ability—and all start with a different combination of dice. These different rulers emphasize the rogue-ish aspects of Dice Legacy, with the chance to run through the game with different playstyles.
I haven’t really played a game like Dice Legacy before. It’s like a management or city building game mixed together with a roguelike deck builder—but instead of making decisions solely based on time and resources, you have to worry about your dice and hope for proper rolls with a clutch of dice similar to Yahtzee. Instead of building a deck, you’re building a group of dice that has both the specialization and general utility to meet the challenges you’ll face on Dice Legacy’s hostile ring world.
Dice Legacy will be available for PC via Steam in September, with planned releases for the Epic Game Store and Nintendo Switch as well.
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