What happens when you have one amazing thing, and you mix it with another amazing thing? Sometimes it works out, like mixing peanut butter with jelly to make one of the most iconic sandwiches of all time. Then, there are the times where things get plain weird, like mixing a beaver with a duck to get whatever the heck a platypus is. Other times, things go completely downhill, like mixing jalapeños and foreplay to spice things up in the bedroom. Dicetiny mixes board games with deck building, and is probably closest to jalapenos and foreplay; sort of fun, but unexpectedly painful, unless you’re into that sort of thing.
If you’ve watched Lord of the Rings, then you already know the storyline for Dicetiny: Lord of the Dice. The game begins with scrolling yellow text in space, ala Star Wars. It explains there are several powerful dice, three for Elves, seven for Dwarves, nine for Humans, and one die to rule them all. You find yourself in possession of the one die to rule them all, and you must traverse the campaign fending off each and every enemy intent on getting their hands on the die. Most of the enemies are parodies of famous sci-fi or fantasy media, whether it’s “Middle Finger” from Game of Thrones or “Dr. White” from Back to the Future. The writing can get a chuckle from time to time, but the spelling errors and sentence structure make it obvious that it wasn’t written by a native English speaker.
Most of the core gameplay is very well designed. Cards cost AP to play, and every turn the player gains additional AP, starting with one on turn one, and ending up with a maximum of seven on turn seven onward. This is a great way to deal with resources in a card-based game, so neither player loses the match due to not obtaining the proper resources. The player can also place a card in an equipment slot, which reduces the AP of that card by the amount of AP the player has remaining. This way if you can’t afford to play any card on your turn, your AP doesn’t go to waste, it just helps you play more cards the next turn.
With 16 levels in the main campaign, and 16 more side quests, Dicetiny has quite a bit of content. Some levels have different main objectives than the standard of killing the enemy. Sometimes it’s alternate ways to kill the enemy, like having them run out of money. Other times it’s an additional objective, like killing all of their minions as well. There are also three boss fights throughout the game, where you play with three different decks in a 3-vs-1 battle against the boss. And although the first boss fight is exciting to have a different kind of fight, with different objectives, it was extremely disappointing to realize that the only real difference between the three bosses is their health total and damage.
There are four different classes of characters that the player can choose to play from, Cleric, Warrior, Wizard, and Rogue. Every class has a unique class ability, lap bonus, stats, hero skill, and unique set of cards for their deck. With all of these unique differences, the classes play and feel a lot different, and can make for some pretty good replay value throughout the campaign. That being said, one of the biggest issues I have with this game is that there is a 100% reproducible crash that occurs when you try to use the Cleric’s ability, rendering the Cleric quite a bit less useful. This crash is apparently consistent with any character in the game that has a targetable ability.
The deck building portion of Dicetiny is okay at best. With only 174 cards, it doesn’t leave many different options for each class to customize their decks. Probably the worst part of deck building is the menu to buy new cards. There are no search options, just four cards on-screen, and a refresh button that displays four new cards. If you’re making a Wizard deck, you’re going to have to random through a lot of Cleric, Warrior, and Rogue cards along your way; heaven forbid you’re searching for a specific card. One other somewhat disappointing element of the deck building is that there are no rare cards. It seems like card rarity is almost a staple of the deck building genre, and although there are cards that cost more, there aren’t really any cards to get excited about.
In regards to crashes, I can accept a certain number of fatal errors in a gaming experience. One crash every few hours is somewhat acceptable in a game, especially a PC game where there are so many variables and different components to each PC, that it’s incredibly difficult to make a game completely stable. However, aside from the crash when using targeted class abilities, I also encountered about a dozen other crashes throughout the campaign. Some of these crashes occur after beating a boss, and result in losing the victory and having to play the fight over again. And the issues with Dicetiny aren’t limited to crashes either. Along with spelling errors, there are a lot of instances of text being cut off or not properly fitting in the text boxes. And there are attacks where particle effects are missing, resulting in large grey squares being displayed instead of effects.
The artwork in Dicetiny is nice and just about everything matches up nicely. The only exception to this is the particle effects, that feel a little too realistic for an otherwise cartoony game. Unlike the graphics, I was less than impressed with the soundtrack to the game. Dicetiny has a very limited sound track, so you’re going to notice the same song playing pretty much throughout the game. And most unfortunately, there are times when the music doesn’t loop, so you’re left in an awkward silence until you change menus.
For those achievements aficionados, Dicetiny is extremely disappointing. Although the game does have achievements, it is guilty of some of the biggest achievement faux pas. Not only is there an achievement for losing a match, which isn’t an “Achievement” in any sense of the word, but Dicetiny actually has a second achievement for losing two matches in a row. Then there are the overly simple achievements, use a spell, summon a minion, equip a card, hire a minion. If you can get 5+ achievements in the first match, then they probably aren’t achievements. And finally, an overly grindy achievement, beating the entire game with each of the four classes.
Dicetiny is another product that falls under the category of “Great Idea, Terrible Execution”. It wouldn’t take much to take this game from a bad game to a good game, but in it’s current state it’s just that, a bad game. However, fix up the crashes, make deck building easier and more interesting, fix up the cringe-worthy writing, and you’ve got yourself a much-improved game.
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