I’m always extolling the virtues of video games, especially when they take risks or even blend genres. Dice Legacy takes a few genres that you’re probably familiar with, smashes them together, and almost manages to come out as a fun game. Unfortunately, there are about a dozen little issues that stop me from truly enjoying my time with Dice Legacy.
Dice Legacy is a city builder with some colony management thrown in, all based around dice throws. It works like how you would expect a colony management game to work: you gather resources, build structures, explore and even fight mysterious hostile forces. Dice Legacy tasks place on an enigmatic procedurally generated ring world, like something from the Halo series. The first scenario has you play as a group of survivors, stranded on these strange shores. You’ll have to resources like food, metal, stone, etc. to survive, especially in the harsh winters. To do so, you’ll send your villagers out to perform tasks. Except your villagers are represented by dice, and the tasks they can perform are based on the tasks that are showing on their dice. If you want to gather resources, for instance, you’ll need a dice showing the “gather resource” icon. If none of your dice suit your needs, you can reroll them—but rerolling dice depletes its durability. If a dice’s durability drops below zero, it dies—and like in any colony sim, your citizens become unhappy if they start to die.
As you begin to build different structures, you can unlock different classes of dice. These different classes usually have an amount of specialization. Peasants are your starting dice, and can do everything from build to fight. Citizens are more specialized, and are required to research new skills. Merchants are very specialized, dealing with trade and wealth accumulation. Monks serve as workers and healers, and help remove wounds from dice that hurt in combat. Soldiers are specialized combat dice, but can also work as builders. Even when you have a group of specialized dice, it’s sometimes hard for the RNG to align with your plans, however. This is doubly difficult in the winter time, when freezing weather will actually disable dice, requiring them to be thawed out in specialized buildings, or when the season gets warmer.
Having the specific die for whatever job you want to perform requires juggling specialized dice, locking those you don’t want to roll, replenishing dice that are near death, etc. It can feel unwieldy and even a bit frustrating when your specialized dice repeatedly fail to give you the result you need. Even when I built up a roster of different dice I would find myself frantically flipping dice hoping for the one I need to produce food, or worse, stop an enemy attack. Combat in Dice Legacy works like anything else does: you need to have dice with the combat icon showing. Sometimes you’ll need quite a few to stave off an enemy attack, or to raid an enemy encampment. Dice can get wounded, which is signified by cracks on the die itself—further wounds lead to death.
You can stack the odds in your favor by empowering die. Doing so will double the value of that die’s face, making one dice be worth two, for instance. You can even ascend dice to create more powerful specialized dice that can then be carried into new playthroughs.
Each playthrough of Dice Legacy is potentially different thanks to its procedurally generation, but also the different scenarios and leaders available. Different leaders, unlocked through gameplay, have different starting dice and conditions. The scenarios will similarly challenge you in unique ways, and even reveal more of the mystery that is Dice Legacy’s story.
One of my biggest gripes of Dice Legacy, and something RNG isn’t responsible for, is its UI. Most of Dice Legacy requires you to place dice into places on buildings and enemies, etc. Sometimes, however, this can get a bit confusing, especially when tons grow in size. There really isn’t a way to zoom in or out, nor is there a way to get an overview of your buildings. It would have been nice to have a single page that allowed me to assign dice quickly, instead of having to place each die. There is a way to auto place dice, but it still requires you to visually identify the building or task. While I mostly played Dice Legacy on PC, I did have a chance to test out the Nintendo Switch version, and the user interface is even more unwieldy.
Dice Legacy’s dice system, I expect, will be polarizing. While I certainly had some fun with it, for me, it was less than ideal. Even when I felt like I had a good arsenal of dice and a thriving community I never really felt on top of things since there’s the constant struggle with the RNG, even to perform basic tasks. It is an interesting variation for those who want a little bit more randomness in their colony builder, or just an additional challenge. It’s definitely not for me, however.
A Steam and Nintendo Switch key were provided to us for this review.
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