Slay the Spire really is too good. Not only did it create a boom of me-too roguelike deckbuilders over the last five years, it also set such a high bar that few of the games releasing in its shadow can hope to measure up. I don’t think I’m the only person who sees card games now and releases a little involuntary sigh. There are so many, and even the good ones are starting to feel a bit too similar.

But what if the cards in a deckbuilder weren’t cards: what if they were dice? Big, chunky, glowing magical dice that look like they have gaseous nebulae inside them? That’s the gimmick of Brazilian indie game Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles (opens in new tab), a Slay the Spire-like from a tiny first-time indie team. The 2D art is gorgeous and looks like it comes from a far bigger studio.

(Image credit: Akupara)

The broad strokes of Astrea are familiar: it’s run-based, the map includes battles and shops to buy and upgrade dice, and you fill out your “deck” (dice pouch?) by picking dice that fit a particular playstyle. Beyond that, it immediately does some things quite differently from Slay the Spire. Damage is built on top of “purification” and “corruption,” which boils down to blue and red dice. Purify dice damage enemies and can fill up your own purify bar, which acts like a shield; if it depletes, you take damage yourself, and you can only survive a couple direct hits.

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