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Tiny Dice Dungeon

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

A sure thing

Product: Tiny Dice Dungeon | Publisher: Kongregate | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Card/ board game, Casual, RPG | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.18.0
Tiny Dice Dungeon iPhone, thumbnail 1
The last game I played from Kongregate - the publisher of Tiny Dice Dungeon - was the incredible Lionheart Tactics. I called it, "a fantastic example of how to do free-to-play right".

Tiny Dice Dungeon, a free-to-play RPG of sorts, has a lot to live up to as far as I'm concerned. Its App Store page has also cranked up my expectations: the creature designs look ever-so sweet, and the adorable pixel-art has me reaching for the rosy glasses.

Will it meet those expectations? Find out with me over the next seven days.

First impressions

Those visuals really are quite something.

The game riffs off Final Fantasy hard, especially IV, V, and VI - from the days of the Super Nintendo.

The blue gradated menus, the 2D art, the detailed town designs: environments, UI, and vehicles look like 16-bit Square, and that's awesome.

The characters in your party are from a hypothetical bygone age, though. They sport humorous names such as the Mini Gigantor and Septic Snail, and though some try to appear threatening, their basic non-bit appearance stops them achieving this.

This humour and the Final Fantasy references continue into other areas, such as the fourth wall-breaking dialogue with townsfolk, and the Phoenix Up Feathers that restore the health of your party.

As for the gameplay itself, I initially thought it would be quite simple, as it's all based on dice rolls. You roll dice, and the results are translated into attack points, which then damage enemies in battles. Roll a one and you forfeit the entire attack and the turn passes to your opponent, who deals damage to you. First one to lose all their health loses, obviously.

It's a game of risk at heart, but something came up in the battles just as I was about to start writing this review that makes me think that there's more to Dice Dungeon than I initially realised. I come back to that in couple of days time, when I know for sure.

For now I'm just enjoying the ride. It's a pretty thing, with a clear love of that era of gaming, and I'm hoping this attention to detail in the visual and audio design reaches deeper into the core of the title.

IAPs explained
There are a few IAPs you can make, if you so desire, but they're not essential. The main one is uncut dice, and a pack of five will cost you £1.49 / $2.49. They're used mainly to create more dice that are better than your previous ones.
Day 3: Gambling awareness

After a couple more days with the game, I'm loving the humour even more than I already was.

Pop culture and video game references are jammed in there. A talking raccoon is explaining how he was given a name by his regular raccoon parents who couldn't speak (work that one out). And a chap dressed in a monster costume appears to be the game's equivalent of one of those Golf Sale guys.

But what's really surprised me is how much of a thrill I'm finding the combat.

Which is a good thing, because there's a lot of it. The entire game has been combat thus far, interspersed with fleeting moments of self-aware narrative.

That's totally okay, because there's depth within the dice rolls that I never thought would be there. When you overroll - which is when you deal more damage to an enemy than it has health to absorb it - you receive the equivalent points back for your own health.

So if you're just about to enter a boss fight, and one of your party members has taken a battering, you can try your luck and roll as high as possible in an attempt to inject some life back into a member of your team.

This is just one aspect of the gameplay that highlights the gambling-tinged nature of proceedings: there's a thrill in trying to diminish the odds against you, and there's trepidation in rolling just one more die and hoping it'll be enough to vanquish your foe.

I'm enjoying the game a lot at the moment, and there's no sign of that changing as I head into the latter half of my week with it.

Day 7: All in

As I continue to fight monsters, strengthen my own team with captured enemies, rebuild the town, and reveal new areas of the single player map, I find myself enjoying Tiny Dice Dungeon more and more.

Building additional types of dice for battles (which give special bonuses, such as extra health) and dealing with enemies trying to poison my party are just some of the new problems I've had to deal with, further adding to this wonderfully deep RPG.

I've even been dabbling with the multiplayer, attempting to defeat the line-ups of randoms online. It's more battling, of course, but you can win lots of goodies here - especially if you break the locks on the gigantic chest you're battling next to - and besides, the additional experience is always welcome.

On top of this, the story that at the core (and in the background) of Tiny Dice Dungeon continues to have me interested in how it will progress.

It's still got that humour I mentioned, but there's a slight ecological message here too, about monsters fighting back against rampant industrialisation.

Kongregate has done it again: it's published another tip-top RPG for mobiles, one that does something new with an age-old design, and it does it in a free-to-play game. Final Fantasy fans form an orderly queue: this might well be your favourite game on mobile in quite some time.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.
Tiny Dice Dungeon
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 14 May 2014
A deep game with a rich and humorous tone, this spin on a classic formula is a must-see for RPG and tabletop gaming fans
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