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Dicefolk

Dicefolk review — Pokémon meets roguelike deckbuilding

It’s a good time to be a deckbuilding roguelike fan. So many great games already exist, like Slay the Spire, Roguebook and Wildfrost. And just this week, Balatro has released, selling over a quarter of a million units in just a couple of days. Phew. But it’s not alone. Dicefolk might not be card-based but using dice instead, it’s the next best thing.

Just three dice make up your hand in Dicefolk, and with them you can issue commands to three monsters under your control. Yes, you’re fighting with monsters rather than directly fighting yourself, giving Dicefolk an air of Pokémon. You’ll be able to swap out for new monsters as you progress too — although you can’t capture your enemies. Sorry, there aren’t any Pokéballs to be found here.

The commands on your dice are fairly basic to start out: you can rotate your monsters, putting a new one in the lead. You can attack, and you can block. That’s about it. But finding a dicesmith on your travels allows you to add new faces with new abilities, like powered-up attacks, mirror (repeat your last action) and more. You’ll also sometimes get new dice faces as rewards for completing battles.

Dicefolk
Image: Good Shepherd Entertainment

During each turn of a battle, you can use all three dice which will have been randomly rolled. You don’t have to use them all if you don’t want, but what you do have to use is all three of your enemy’s dice. That’s right: you’re also in control of playing your enemies’ moves, which gives Dicefolk a rather unique twist. It means you know exactly what moves they’re going to make, and allows you to stack moves accordingly.

Do they have a block? Make sure you use your attack first. Do you have a block? Make sure you use that before they attack. It’s not always helpful: sometimes there’s nothing you can do about a killing blow other than accept your fate. But that’s the nature of the roguelike: simply try again.

Between battles, you get to explore a simple map where you’ll get to visit shops, dicesmith, shrines and more. Exploring pays off, even if it does mean taking on more battles than you need to, as you could find some game-changing items. Each of the three monsters in your control has a number of inventory slots you see, offering various passive and active effects. Some might make you stronger, or others might automatically deal damage to the opposition every time you rotate your team.

Roguebook review

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Having a good selection of items is key to success, then. You’ll complete a level in Dicefolk once you’ve beaten the boss, but if you still have unexplored tiles it’s worth putting off going to the boss in case you’re missing anything game-changing. Ultimately it’s your call of course, and that’s one of the great things here: you’re in charge of your journey. And if going straight to the boss is more your style, that’s absolutely fine.

Of course, like more games in the genre, there’s an element of luck involved in Dicefolk. You’re never sure what dice you’re going to roll, and a good roll can make all the difference. But strategy is important too: you’ll want to pay attention to your enemies, noting the abilities they have and the dice in their hand each roll. Knowing when and when not to attack is important, and ultimately can be the difference between life and death.

Like always, practice makes perfect in Dicefolk, and there’s a good chance you might die dozens of times before reaching the end of a successful run. But not all is lost: you’ll unlock new things each time you play — new monsters to play as, new items to equip and more.

Dicefolk is the type of game we can see ourselves going back to again and again. It’s going to appeal to fans of deckbuilding roguelikes, but its Pokémon-like twist — and the fact you’re rolling dice instead of playing cards — helps it stand out from the crowd. It’s challenging but addictive, which just so happens to be the perfect combination for a game like this.


Dicefolk review – GameSpew’s score

This review of Dicefolk has been facilitated by a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PC.

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