A not-so-subtle hint that a game expects players to jump in over and over is a starting page which asks you to pick a playstyle — especially if several of the offerings are still locked. Dicefolk hits me with this right of the bat, with the only option so far being the Warrior Talisman. Unsurprisingly, this gives me access to chimeras all about the straightforward attack. But I didn’t know how this would flow into the dice-rolling, creature-recruiting game at first.
After a brief, stylized origin story trailer setting the scene — briefly summed up as magical baddie, Salem, almost destroys humanity with chimeras but dice-wielding warriors learn to influence the creatures and defeat him — my character sets off for adventure. The dreaded Salem seems to have enough fight left in him to effect the world’s creatures, even imprisoned, and I’m out to stop it.
Combat is the game’s crucial pillar. And though the building blocks are familiar — think Pokémon — the flow works in an intriguing way. I control a handful of dice that command not only my team, but also the opponents. Unfortunately, I can’t just choose not to activate the enemy’s dice, but I can pick when everything goes down.
Let’s say the dice for my team comes up shield, rotate, and attack, with the other squad’s showing the same. I can shield my active fighter, trigger the opponent to attack my guarded creature, and waste the foe’s shield on a chimera that I immediately rotate away from the battle. From there, it’s a simple matter to move in a viable fighter on my team to strike a blow. Triggering the events in this order, I use all the dice, but none of my team’s been hurt.
All the dice spent, the round is over and everything gets re-rolled. It’s a snappy system that makes fighting feel a little more dynamic than simply picking what creature to throw out and what attack to use.
Traveling between fights isn’t overly complicated. My character pops up onto a rolled-out map, with dotted lines marking possible pathways. These routes lead to icons representing battles, elite battles, chimera shrines, and more. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, but I was pleased to discover the shrine offered me a place to add a new member to my team. I expect, as the maps grow larger, players will wade through a tangle of fighting and encounters which will significantly change how prepared they are for the elite baddie.
But I don’t get to see far enough into Dicefolk to confirm that suspicion. The game is aiming for release in the next few months, though. So, players won’t have to wait long if they’re interested in jumping in.