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Dicey Dungeons meets Slay the Spire in new roguelike with free prequel

Die in the Dungeon Origins is a new deck building roguelike prequel that uses dice, not cards, and it's playable now as a free Steam game.

Die in the Dungeon - A purple frog-like creature wearing a deep purple jacket holds twin daggers.

Discovering a great new free game is always a delight, and there’s few things I enjoy more on a winter Sunday evening than cozying up at the PC with a great roguelike game, so having those two things combine makes me a very happy man. As such, I’m tearing myself away from playing Die in the Dungeon: Origins myself to tell you all to check out this deck building roguelike that replaces the cards with dice. If you’re a fan of games like Dicey Dungeons, Slay the Spire, Wildfrost, or Monster Train, this one’s well worth a look.

Die in the Dungeon: Origins is a prologue to the upcoming deck-building roguelike game Die in the Dungeon. You can think of it a bit like an expanded demo of the game’s mechanics, albeit a rather robust one that’s available as a free Steam game. It already has me hooked with its simple yet intricate systems, plus its soothing fantasy soundtrack that reminds me of classic RPGs like Chrono Trigger.

As mentioned previously, we’re dealing with a ‘deck’ (or bag, I suppose) full of dice. Each different color represents different moves – red dice deal damage, green dice heal you, blue dice block enemies, and so on. They’re all six-sided, although the numbers on them aren’t necessarily always one to six; you might have three twos and three threes, or four blank sides and two with sixes on them.

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On your turn, you’ll place a selection of dice from your hand into a grid of squares to determine which moves you want to use. Things only get more advanced from there, however. Purple dice are ‘boost dice’ and will increase the potency of nearby dice – with the number shown determining both the strength of the buff and how far away the dice needs to be to apply its effect.

There’s far more beyond this, too. Pink ‘terrain dice’ leave effects on the grid after their use to buff future abilities. Cyan ‘prism dice’ don’t have their own effect, but will pass on any buffs they’re given to nearby dice, allowing you to multiply your output dramatically with careful placement. In addition to this, some dice you get might have modifiers: for example, ‘flash’ means they take effect the second you place them, while ‘glass’ means they can only be used once per battle.

Things start out simple but ramp up relatively quickly, and soon you’ll be creating intricate dice networks to deliver obliteration upon your enemies. They’ve got more than a few tricks up their sleeve too, however; some enemies will change their upcoming moves in reaction to the dice you place, others will take their turn before you once you finalize your layout, and more can place terrain effects on your board, such as an infection that lowers the value of any dice placed there, but will spread each turn if you leave it empty.

Die in the Dungeon event - The player places matching colored dice into certain slots to determine their actions.

Between encounters, you’ll have the choice to pick up new dice, destroy an unwanted die from your deck, heal your character, and so on. There are also events, where you’ll have to place certain-colored dice into your chosen option and roll to see whether or not you’re successful in your endeavors.

As your run progresses, you’ll also get to upgrade dice for better rolls and pick-up relics that can dramatically change your strategy. My favorite so far is Snake Eyes, which lets you place any dice that roll a one without spending energy, making them much more exciting to see in your hand.

As mentioned, Origins is functionally a prequel to the upcoming Die in the Dungeon. It’s set several years beforehand, and you’ll play as Lisver, “whose story takes place in a supposedly safe and thoroughly explored dungeon, but something seems off here…” Manage to overcome the trials in Lisver’s way and defeat the evil lurking in the depths, and you can test your deck building skills in its endless mode.

Die in the Dungeon Origins - Dice are placed into a central grid to determine the player's actions.

Die in the Dungeon: Origins is out now on Steam. You can play it for free. If you’re looking for something to keep you entertained this evening, I’d highly recommend giving it a shot, and I can’t wait to see what developer ATICO has in store for the full game, which will feature more characters with distinct board shapes and dice varieties, even more events and relics, and a deeper campaign with more dangerous foes to overcome.

If you need more to keep you ticking over until then, have a look through more of the best strategy games on PC, along with all the essential free games you should be checking out right now.

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