Devil Dice is the latest puzzle game released by THQ. The “Dice” half of the title is a no brainer: players control a character that runs around on a field of three-dimensional dice. The “Devil” half of the title is what’s interesting. It can’t be because the characters that the players control are little devils. That’s too easy. I wonder instead if THQ meant to refer to the fact that they’ve deliberately created an extremely addictive puzzler? Or that their game boasts some of the best puzzle gameplay around? Whatever the answer, Devil Dice is a deliciously devilish piece of work.
The gameplay is what every game developer dreams: simple to play, but difficult to master. The players attempt to line up the number on the top face of the dice with other dice that already have that number on their top side. It’s actually more complicated than that, so the best way to explain the gameplay is to break it down.
If you have a row of dice showing “six” on their top side, players must move dice around so that six dice all showing “six” are touching. They must line up five “five” dice, four “four” dice, etc. Once the dice are all touching they slowly disappear into the ground. In an effort to prevent the player from simply lining up dice that have “one” on their top side, Devil Dice only lets “ones” disappear if they are lined up with another row of dice that is already disappearing (called the Happy One technique). Confused yet? Good.
It’s actually simpler than it sounds but after a few minutes players will understand completely. Actually doing it is a much harder job than it sounds, and this is where THQ must be commended. Simple concept, difficult achievement.
The dice in Devil Dice can be moved around in two different ways. Players control a little devil that runs around in the field of dice. By walking onto a specific die, players can roll it around the field. Every step the player takes moves the die, and, accordingly, every step changes the die’s orientation. Marching the die in one direction will get one number to appear on top, while marching in the other direction will get a different number to appear on top. It should be immediately noted that opposite sides of a die have numbers that add up to seven. Thus, 1/6 are on opposite sides, as are 2/5, and 3/4. THQ points this out in both the manual and in the on-line help section. Armed with this knowledge, players can immediately set out to roll their dice. Right? Wrong.
The gameplay is more complicated than that. When a row of dice are lined up and begin to sink into the ground (i.e. Five with “five” on the top), they become transparent. Players can then line up more appropriately facing dice with the row of ghostly sinking dice. If successful, the die that the player is on will “chain” with the rest of the dissolving dice and disappear as well. The die that was added will sink at its own rate, extending the amount of time that players can use to add additional dice. Chaining is the key to victory in Devil Dice.