PC, Nintendo Switch
September 9, 2021
Dice Legacy is a survival city-builder game developed by DestinyBit and published by Ravenscourt and Maple Whispering Limited. Set in a beautiful environment called the Ringworld, you’ll have to build up your settlement from scratch, defend it from any threats, and produce enough resources for your people. Dice Legacy recently won the prize for most original game at Gamescom 2021, and we already had a preview of Dice Legacy in early August and suffice to say we were impressed with what we saw of the game then.
At first glance, Dice Legacy’s graphics reminded me of titles like Going Medieval or Frostpunk. Its gorgeous graphics and soundtrack draw you in to its mysterious and visually stunning Ringworld. Both on Switch and in the PC version, units, buildings, and the scenery in Dice Legacy are beautifully rendered. I was curious to see whether the strategy title would hold up on the smaller screen of my Switch. Thankfully, I was blown away by the level of detail in the animations and the level of accessibility when it came to the Switch version.
While the interface on Switch is smaller than on PC and can feel fiddly at times, I found it an impressive port for a strategy game. Playing complex strategy titles with layered menus and interfaces isn’t a given on Switch — especially in handheld mode — and Dice Legacy remained just as accessible and enjoyable to me on Switch as it was on PC, complete with easily readable explanation bubbles on units, buildings, and more.
What truly sets Dice Legacy apart, though, is its gameplay. While on the surface, Dice Legacy has a premise similar to many other games in the strategy genre — grow your settlement and expand your borders — it comes with a unique twist: dice! Like in other strategy titles, the main gameplay goals of Dice Legacy are centered around growing your population, and creating different settler classes to build structures, unlock technologies, and more. In Dice Legacy, however, these settler classes are represented by differently coloured dice. If you need a particular settler or unit – such as a peasant, a soldier, or a citizen – to perform a certain action, you’ll have to roll the dice to make it happen.
“…maintaining enough dice of different classes and keeping your dice durability levels up quickly becomes a tricky balancing act.”
However, rolling a set of settler dice also comes with a price. Each die comes with a durability level that decreases with each roll. If you let a die’s durability value drop down to zero, the settler represented by the die in question will pass away, which will affect your settlement’s happiness levels. Do this too many times, and your population will start to riot, causing you to lose control of your settlement and lose the game. While you do have the option to increase a die’s durability level again in a cookhouse, this takes food and time. You can also create new dice, but this takes a dedicated building and it will remove two of your dice from action for a short time, too. This can be a tricky challenge in itself, since in Dice Legacy’s world, you’re also working against the clock: when you start a playthrough, it’ll be summer — prime time to grow food and stockpile for winter. Once winter rolls around, your dice can freeze, which means you’re unable to roll them. You can thaw them in a tavern, but you’ll need wheat, which can only be grown in summer, and enough time to have the relevant dice thawed. When you consider that you can only have sixteen dice in total at a time, maintaining enough dice of different classes and keeping your dice durability levels up quickly becomes a tricky balancing act.
On top of this, each settler die comes with symbols that represent different actions. If you want to build a new building, for example, you’ll have to roll your available peasant dice for the corresponding building actions. Often, you’ll need multiple dice of a single class to perform a particular action or to construct a new building. Considering there are multiple classes in the game, it can take a while to wrap your head around the different classes, actions, and buildings, and if you’re having a particularly rough winter where half of your dice are frozen, you’ll find yourself struggling to get through the colder seasons unscathed.
For this reason, Dice Legacy can feel quite unforgiving when you first start playing. It can take time to gain a proper understanding of all the game’s intricacies, especially for players who don’t play a lot of strategy games. Particularly for complete newcomers to the genre, there are a lot of moving parts in Dice Legacy that will undoubtedly feel intimidating or even tedious. However, since our preview, the developers have overhauled the game’s tutorial significantly, and the updated version makes it a lot more straightforward to get the hang of the relevant mechanics in the game. While in my first few playthroughs, I struggled to make it through winter, things got a lot easier once I knew what all the different parts in the game meant and where to find them in the UI. Once you finish more playthroughs, you can also unlock different scenarios, and you even have the option to choose some of your dice before starting a playthrough, which makes things more manageable too.
In short, I found that the dice mechanic made the core gameplay experience significantly more dynamic compared to other strategy games and, of course, a whole lot less predictable. Combined with the game’s beautiful soundtrack, I found that the added element of chance helped reflect the reality of what running a settlement would really be like. While some strategy fans might find it frustrating not being able to plan out their campaign down to the minute details, that approach doesn’t feel realistic to me. Ruling an empire would often come with unplanned interruptions, ranging from riots, to disease, to natural disasters, and more. Dice Legacy’s dice mechanics truly brought this part of playing strategy games to life for me, and reminded me to arm myself against the unknown as best as I could through being flexible within my game strategy.
In this sense, Dice Legacy comes with a refreshing strategy challenge to tackle. Unlike other strategy games where you can prepare one single strategy to stick to for the entirety of your playthrough, Dice Legacy will force you to adapt, be flexible, and think on your feet. In my eyes, that’s one of the key ingredients for an immersive and engrossing strategy game, if not the most important one.
- Original take on a classic strategy format
- Dice mechanics make for dynamic gameplay with plenty of variety
- Beautiful visuals and animations
- The game can be unforgiving and takes a while to crack
Dice Legacy brings a refreshing and challenging strategy format to the table. The dice mechanics will force you to think on your feet and adapt your strategy along the way, making Dice Legacy’s core gameplay more energetic and dynamic compared to other titles in the genre. While this gameplay format comes with a level of unpredictability which may not be for everyone, it dishes up classic strategy format with a unique twist. For newcomers, Dice Legacy may take a little while to crack, but for gamers with a soft spot for strategy, it’s worth every minute of your time.