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    Dice Legacy review

    Don’t let Dice Legacy deceive you, as it did me. It’s not a chill city builder with a couple of quirky presentational features and nascent roguelike elements. No, it’s a pitched battle for survival, pitting your dicey tribe against a rival settlement. You’re not (just) building a cute medieval town—you’re building a machine to take your enemies, The Others, down.

    Need to know

    What is it? A quirky city builder that’s secretly a merciless realtime strategy game
    Expect to pay: $20/£16
    Developer: DESTINYbit
    Publisher: Ravenscourt, Maple Whispering Limited
    Reviewed on: Intel Core i7-10750H, 16GB RAM, GeForce RTX 2060
    Multiplayer? No
    Out: Now
    Link: (opens in new tab)

    You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given how sedately Dice Legacy starts. Parking your ship at the edge of a seemingly unclaimed landmass, you soon go about the usual colony stuff: building a house and assigning workers to essential tasks. Food needs to be hunted, wood gathered, and stone and iron mined by the peasant class. But here those workers are represented by chunky, colourful dice. 

    Exploiting the land involves matching die faces to the various icons in the environment. The Tool icon is found by forests, mines, meadows, and hunting lodges (these are already present when you arrive in the world), and extracting them is as simple as dropping a die with the same icon atop each resource. When the resulting timer runs out, the die becomes exhausted, requiring a reroll before it can be used again. But you never know which of the die’s six faces the roll will settle on.

    (Image credit: DESTINYbit)

    After two frustrating, Sisyphean attempts (there’s no manual saving, so if you’re caught in a downward spiral it might be best to restart the game), I turned the difficulty down to the easiest setting and started again. Here, The Others won’t attack until you poke them first, giving you plenty of time to shore your defences and upgrade your fighters. When I finally made my attack, the enemy responded slowly with their initial, puny raiders, so it was a short and slightly shaming victory in my favour.

    That’s probably not the intended Dice Legacy experience, but I needed to see the end of it, partly to know what the many locked modes had to offer. There’s no Others-free mode, but if you want to make the experience harder for yourself you can play in a permanent winter, in a land mired in bureaucracy, or on a map with fewer resources available to scavenge. Alternate rulers are also unlocked after beating the main game, each favouring a different dice class.

    There’s always been some overlap between city builders and realtime strategy games, but Dice Legacy carves an awkward niche in the middle. Yes, it’s a game about building a colony, but your every effort should be directed towards overcoming its cliff-like final battle. It’s an engine, and the fuel is colourful dice. I admire it for that focus, even after hunching over my keyboard playing one of the most dispiriting games of my life.

    As seen on PCgamer

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