Circadian Dice have been out for quite a while on itch, but it was added to Steam a while back (I think it’s a few years at this point) with a big overhaul update and a very affordable price tag. It’s a well crafted little game that no one interested in mechanicly deep puzzle games should miss out on. It might look unassuming at a first glance, but make no misstake, this is quite the gem.
Developed by Shuffle Up Games from the mind of one of my former programming teachers, Sanny Syberfeldt, Circadian Dice is a game with a simple premise and recognizable fantasy settings, who puts just about all it’s focus on the gameplay systems. If you’ve played and enjoyed any sort of deckbuilding game, this will feel familiar to you.
Circadian dice is really a masterclass in system driven design. As most similar games, it relies heavily on it’s game systems and rulesets to craft the player experience rather than visuals or story. You learn and explore the gameplay as you unlock new classes and types of dice, making the first few hours very exciting as you get a steady stream of new content.
You start out with just one character and one dungeon to play, but you quickly unlock new content. Aside from new dungeons with increasing difficulty you also get new characters that adds new mechanics to be applied on the dice for all the classes . At the end of the game there is a myriad of different challenges to take on and a number of different ways to play. It’s really much bigger than what it first appears to be, which is exactly the feeling you want to get when you get to the end in a game like this.
As it is a dice-building game instead of the traditional card-building it feels quite fresh, even in these times where a new roguelite card game shows up every other day.
Each time you start a scenario, you also select a class you want to play as well as starting equipment for that class. Depending on the scenario you can have a varying amount of equipment, in the early ones you can only bring one, and in the later ones you can bring more to further deepen the strategy your going for.
A scenario is basically a number of waves of monsters that you have to defeat, that include at least one boss monster at the end. Monsters have health and damage as well as a myriad of different special abilities, some traditional like lifesteal, toughness and regeneration but also more innovative ones that affects certain faces on the die. You normally start out with two dice, and you have three re-rolls each turn. You can decide to keep what you get or re-roll, once you keep you get the effect on the current faces (attacking, gold, blocking, etc.). There is a lot of randomness involved but as the scenario goes on you collect gold which you can use to replace the worst faces on your dice with new ones to more and more hone in on your strategy.
The core gameplay of just roling dice, using abilities and customizing your dice as you continously defeat monsters is really fun. The game is no visual marvel to be sure, but it does the job well enough. Circadian Dice offers unique gameplay that you can’t find anywhere as far as I know and it deserves to stand as one of the finest in the suite of deckbuilding-esque games. Easy to play bitesized or something that you can spend an entire evening on with generous content progression that lasts for many hours.