Dice Assassin First Impressions: Watch Your Step

I try to walk away and I stumble.

On paper, Dice Assassin is a tempting addition to the growing number of grid-based roguelikes. But the extreme limitations on player actions make even assassination feel drawn out. It’s a promising indie title that needs more polish if it truly wants to have that killer edge.

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Wild Goose Chase

Dice Assassin: the player is just out of striking range of a single frog.
Screenshot by Taylor Hicklen.

Your assassin’s turn begins by rolling two die: blue for your movement range, and red for your attack damage. At least in the initial stages, you can only move in the four cardinal directions: up, down, left, and right.

If you roll a one, you’re limited to one square. The limits of this movement approach are almost immediately obvious. When the checkerboard grid has four or five enemies, it’s easier to track them down. But dwindle down to one enemy, and it turns into a maddening chase across the board.

Enemies don’t have your constraints. They move a consistent number of squares every time. This should feel natural, but in practice it just cancels out any sense of player empowerment. During one early run, I spent twenty turns fruitlessly chasing a single frog back and forth. It hopped two squares away, and I kept rolling badly. I felt more like a member of the Three Stooges than a deadly assassin.

Hit Or Miss

Dice Assassin: the players lingers in the collection area, one red die visible out of the ten total items.
Screenshot by Taylor Hicklen

When you finally enter striking range of an enemy, you can cycle through attack cards to decide your approach. Click on the enemy, and you’ll attack it for the number rolled on your red damage die. Your assassin will swing their dual blades out to the side.

Despite how it looks, your first weapon can only attack spaces within your movement range. The assassin’s blades swing out at the end of each turn, but adjacent enemies will not be hit. Remember that frog I kept chasing? I wasn’t able to hit it even on a square right next to it. Your assassin basically has to spring on top of enemies to properly slash them, an odd choice for a genre well-steeped in attacking surrounding squares.

Adding a few additional sprites to clarify where your assassin is stabbing could alleviate that confusion. Or better yet, let early weapon cards have more of an area of effect.

Thoughts So Far: Dice Assassin needs more time to strike

Dice Assassin: the player hovers over the Damage Dice upgrade, which costs 100 gold. They have 29 gold.
Screenshot by Taylor Hicklen

Dice Assassin follows in promising genre footsteps, but the game’s core systems are stacked against you. Randomized movement, lack of early game choice, and a meager in-game economy add unnecessary weight to what should be a snappy strategic exercise. With more time and care, it could hone its blade to proper sharpness. Adjustments to the game’s system and economy could make Dice Assassin feel properly light on its feet, but for now, the player’s deadly work is cumbersome.

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Taylor Hicklen
Taylor Hicklen

Taylor is Press SPACE to Jump's community lead. He likes midrange JRPGs, fighting games, and Dicey Dungeons. Bonus points if there are good fonts. To contact him about your game or other professional inquiries, you can email him at pstjtaylor@proton.me.

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