Dice Heroes: one of many upcoming saviors for mobile strategy games.
At first glance, I kinda rolled my eyes at it when I spotted it in the Google Play shop. “Another game coasting on pixel-nostalgia game sales …” I thought. For the next couple of days, as my wife and I lay in bed browsing the app shop for games to play on our upcoming road trip, I eyed this game from the corner of my eye.
After I got over myself, I decided to click it and read what it was about. It was fairly new so I went ahead and downloaded it. And it’s charmed me in a really special way.
Yes, it’s coasting on the good-feel, good-sale vibes of pixelated games. Really, if you’re a developer that’s not doing this, you’re no friend of Money. But other than that, the game is truly it’s own thing. It’s cute, sure, but it’s got talent and as a strategy game it’s actually better than most things I’ve picked up in the app store. And besides that, the visual style suits the game very well. So it’s hard to hold the style against it.
First, what does Dice Heroes even mean? Well, instead of playing as some humanoid hero you are a die. And you and your die buddies together make up a pack of adventurous dice travelling throughout these strange islands in the sky, getting rid of the evil dice out there. If you’ve played role-playing games before then you know exactly who these evil, death-deserving die are. Every time you rolled a critical miss or landed a glancing blow, it was these evil beings that brought it upon you. DEATH TO THEM ALL.
You, of course, are the good dice. You’re the saving throws, the critical hits, the crushing blows. You and your dice buddies have 6-sices and you can arm yourself with weapons and gear to take on the evil dice.
As a strategy game, you’ll begin each battle on a uniquely laid out map. You and your dice must navigate the obstacles of the map, position yourselves to successfully strike the evil dice. What’s truly magical about Dice Heroes is that it seems to do something very interesting with chess mechanics that other similar games don’t see privy to. When it comes down to it, the dice movements and abilities are designed in the same way that movements and abilities are assigned to chess pieces. It does all of this without making you feel the complexity of a chess match. It’s well done.
I’m only at level 16, but I’m enjoying Dice Heroes a lot. It’s surprisingly fun, but simple and all good strategy games need to be those things in order to not become a bore fest. My one gripe is the successful design of in-app purchases, which does a good job of making you feel compelled to purchase gold. It’s not very subtle at all, and at first glance you might be tricked into thinking the prices aren’t bad. The prices are quite horrible, but the gameplay really make purchases seem not only worth it, but justified. I strongly dislike the fact that money is the most efficient way to play the game, because with it you can level your dice and buy equipment at a rate that keeps pace with the difficulty of each level. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself needing to farm previous stages for gold in order to kit out your dice for your strategy.
It’s free to download, so I highly recommend giving it a try if you enjoy strategy games.