Dice Legacy Review: Dice, dice, baby
After an untold amount of days at sea, we’ve finally arrived at our new home. Sure, it looks a little bare and wild now, but with chance on our side, we’ll tame these lands and call them ours soon enough. What’s that? We’re on a ring floating through space and could potentially — quite literally — walk off the face of our planet? And something something lack of atmosphere and oxygen? Don’t worry about it!
So begins Dice Legacy, a dice-based survival city-builder with RTS and roguelike elements. If that sounded like a handful, it sure is — especially on the Switch (also available on PC). Developed by DESTINYbit and published by Ravenscourt, Dice Legacy asks players to “roll and use your dice to gather resources, expand and defend your settlement, survive the winter and interact with the strange inhabitants of this eerie world.” With a plethora of genres thrown together into one title, Dice Legacy attempts a quite a bit — does it achieve it all?
After choosing a set of dice and difficulty level, Dice Legacy opens up its world and makes a fantastic first impression. Being treated to the sight of that halo-shaped world with powerfully cinematic music really gives the setting some deserved gravitas and immediately sets the stage for some serious gameplay. Although there isn’t a true tutorial per se, the game does give tips in the way you’d expect a game like Civilization to do by way of pointers that become available to reference freely in an encyclopedia. There are also very direct first step missions, such as build a house or build a steam generator; and like that, the game begins.
The premise of Dice Legacy is to build a thriving settlement after arriving on newfound land, and to do so, you’ll need resources. Luckily, a set of dice are ready to go to do your bidding, each side responsible for a specific action. For example, the hammer can construct buildings, the axe and pickaxe can collect resources like wood and stone, and the sword can fend off would-be attackers. Each die has a set amount of rolls before they expire; luckily, they can be recharged by feeding them at cookhouses, but this will take a found resource to happen. By carefully managing rolls and resources, players will be able to build their small settlements into a thriving metropolis.
Although it takes a little bit of time to get the swing of things, Dice Legacy has some very friendly pacing. Things like seasons come up on you and pass quickly, but not before you can learn the ropes. The game recognizes if you haven’t completed the most basic steps and reacts accordingly, preferring players to get into the flow of building, rolling, and resource collecting before throwing harder and harder challenges in the way. From a gameplay and ambiance perspective, Dice Legacy is easily an addictive experience.
Where I think Dice Legacy ran into some issues is, unfortunately, the Switch controls. It’s not that they’re bad, I just wouldn’t describe them as intuitive. I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally held dice instead of rolling them or built multiples of the same building after assuming I had switched to the correct one. I think the best way to describe it wasn’t frustration with controls, but rather friction. My brain was very much ready to embrace the flow of rolling and acting, but hours after starting a game I never quite felt like I had a good grasp on controls. Dice Legacy delivers, but I’d be hesitant to give this a go on my Switch when a far more intuitive PC version is available.
Dice Legacy leaves a lasting impression of something basic in concept but tremendous in possibilities. With bucolic aesthetics and a simply lovely soundtrack to match, Dice Legacy wants players to know that dice-based gameplay can be incredibly deep and immediately addicting. Would I recommend this survival city-builder on the Switch? Certainly, but only if PC isn’t an option; if you’ve got a Steam account, head there first for the far more intuitive gameplay both you and Dice Legacy deserve.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC, Switch (reviewed); Publisher: Ravenscourt; Developer: DESTINYbit; Players: 1; Released: September 9, 2021; MSRP: $19.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a retail copy of Dice Legacy provided by the publisher.