Don’t let Dice Legacy deceive you, as it did me. It’s not a chill city builder with a couple of quirky presentational features and nascent roguelike elements. No, it’s a pitched battle for survival, pitting your dicey tribe against a rival settlement. You’re not (just) building a cute medieval town—you’re building a machine to take your enemies, The Others, down.

Need to know

What is it? A quirky city builder that’s secretly a merciless realtime strategy game
Expect to pay: $20/£16
Developer: DESTINYbit
Publisher: Ravenscourt, Maple Whispering Limited
Reviewed on: Intel Core i7-10750H, 16GB RAM, GeForce RTX 2060
Multiplayer? No
Out: Now

You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given how sedately Dice Legacy starts. Parking your ship at the edge of a seemingly unclaimed landmass, you soon go about the usual colony stuff: building a house and assigning workers to essential tasks. Food needs to be hunted, wood gathered, and stone and iron mined by the peasant class. But here those workers are represented by chunky, colourful dice. 

Exploiting the land involves matching die faces to the various icons in the environment. The Tool icon is found by forests, mines, meadows, and hunting lodges (these are already present when you arrive in the world), and extracting them is as simple as dropping a die with the same icon atop each resource. When the resulting timer runs out, the die becomes exhausted, requiring a reroll before it can be used again. But you never know which of the die’s six faces the roll will settle on.

(Image credit: DESTINYbit)

On a good roll, in the early game, you might end up with multiple Tool faces, letting you gather wood, food, herbs and stone all at once. Next roll, however, you might get five Compass faces, which serve a much more narrow purpose. So, why not just reroll for a better result?

The tension at the heart of Dice Legacy is that its dice have durability. This is lowered every time you roll and they, er, die if it ever drops below zero. You’re forever weighing the need to reroll against the need to preserve durability, which can only be restored by plopping a die in the cookhouse with a bit of food.

(Image credit: DESTINYbit)

But there are other hazards too. Dice can be wounded and killed in combat. They can be stricken with an infectious plague. And, when winter rolls around, they can be frozen, rendering them useless until you heal them, or the season ends. It’s rare that a die will perish outright, which is why I initially felt this was a laidback game. Even winter is not too punishing, when you know what you’re doing.

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