I’m a big fan of frogs in games. If I see a cute little green guy in a game, then I’m absolutely going to play it. This is how I started playing the free prologue demo for Die In The Dungeon, a turn-based roguelike where you place dice on a grid to slice and , er, dice your enemies. It’s smart, concise, and I can’t stop playing.
Playing as your little green knight, you are given five dice each round to place on a game board. Each one represents a certain action, the basic ones being attacking and defending, but ramping up to mass healing and boosting the stats of other dice. Energy points dictate how many dice you can place on the board, with each one costing the number on its face. Placement is key, as different combinations can lead to better outcomes like, for example, how you can place an attack die in a space affected by a booster die to increase its damage.
But that’s just the beginning. As you progress through each floor – beating up bug baddies as you go – you can add more dice to your arsenal, and upgrade them too. There are little story events, no more than a paragraph of text, where you’re given choices that affect your dice, like increasing one of their numbers to strengthen its effects or making it cheaper to play. You may start with a fist full of ones and twos but soon you can edit your dicey deck to have all sorts of abilities and high numbers.
It’s all pretty standard roguelike stuff, but what I love about Die In The Dungeon is just how concise and densely packed it is. You only have five dice each turn to place on a 3×3 board making each placement really count. You want to get the most out of your synergies in the most efficient way possible, and when you start to learn how to best place your dice and how to stack effects, you feel super smart.
Another great addition is that certain bugs have abilities that take up spaces on your board, meaning you have to work around them to use any of your cool combos. When you slay them on the battlefield their space then empties up, but trying to fit your dice effect areas around these blockades is a great brain teaser, like Into The Breach meets Tetris.
There are other details I love too, like how your frog’s HP is shown on a D20, and how whenever you replenish your dice there’s a really satisfying rattling sound. I’ve still not gotten to the boss at the end of the demo, or ‘prologue’ as the devs are calling it, so my skills have yet to be sharpened. I’m excited to see more enemy types and the different ways they can mess with your board.