Be a frog, kill bugs, collect cool dice in the demo for dicebuilding roguelike Die in the Dungeon

A new dicebuilding game is on the way, taking the roguelite framework and applying it in an interesting-looking way by having you place your dice in a grid for synergies and effects. Plus, you’re a cute frog that’s eating bugs. Big bonus in my opinion.

Die in the Dungeon is coming next year, and a free Prologue called Die in the Dungeon: Origins just released on steam as a demo to introduce you to the mechanics and gameplay of the cute little fighty dice-em-up. You progress through a series of random rooms and encounters, each one solved by playing attack, defend, and boost dice you’ve pulled from your bag and rolled to a grid. 

Placement matters, and can give bonuses to adjacent dice or get bonuses based on items you collect—one I got, for example, gave bonuses to dice that were on the far ends of my grid with nothing adjacent to them. Another dice I got mirrored the dice on the opposite end from itself. The mechanic was pretty smooth in play, and combined with the genre-standard predictable enemy behavior allowed you to plan out powerful turns that countered their actions and boosted your position. Even better, enemy actions sometimes add or alter your board positions and how dice perform on them.

It’s a taste of what the game will be like, though I hope the final version does smooth out some of the difficulties here. Right now, for example, what you encounter seems like a random, escalating set of scenarios. That’s brutal, honestly, because you have no way to mitigate that by choosing a route or knowing what’s coming up. A surprise extra-hard fight can spell the end of your run with no warning at all, as can a random event that takes away or modifies your dice.

Die in the Dungeon had a different prologue earlier this year, in January 2023, but a significant amount of the game’s mechanics have changed since that first public test. Which is usually a good sign—the developers are iterating and making the whole thing better over time.

As a quick aside, I got to say: Wow, the Steam page for this really does act like it invented the bag-of-dice-building genre or that this is some grandiose new twist. It ain’t. The first one of these I can remember playing was Quarriors, back in 2011. That is 12 years ago. Marketers and developers, please stop acting like long-extant game mechanics are revolutionary. It makes you look ignorant at best. (This isn’t even the first time this year I’ve seen it: The marketing for Astrea, released in October, acted similarly about its dicebuilding conceit.)

You can find free demo Die in the Dungeon: Origins on Steam, and you can find the page for Die in the Dungeon there as well, to release in 2024.

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