If Carlsberg made DLC, they would make Dicey Dungeons – The Reunion DLC. We apologise for the product placement there, but the sentiment is true enough: this is exactly what we look for in a game expansion. This is the model that we’d like all future DLC to aspire to, if other developers wouldn’t mind.
First of all, Dicey Dungeon’s Reunion DLC is completely free. We would presume that the reason is because Dicey Dungeons has belatedly launched on mobile, giving fans another reason to pick it up on portable devices. But we’re not going to sneer, because this is a sizable chunk of gameplay, and it’s free as a bird.
It feels like a great time to launch, too. Three years almost to the day from when it first came out on PC, and seven months after the Xbox and Game Pass release (a reminder that Dicey Dungeons and this expansion are both available now for subscribers), enough time has passed for us to have consigned the original game to the back of the cupboard. The new DLC gave us a marvelous excuse to dust it off and give it another go.
But the crowning reason for this being an exemplar of DLC is how much it transforms the original game. It might not be immediately clear how disruptive it is from the opening moments, though, as the format is very much the same: it’s the same six dice-based characters, sitting on stools for a television reunion. There they are – Warrior, Witch, Thief, Robot, Jester and Inventor – just as they were when we first reviewed Dicey Dungeons in 2021. Picking one triggers an entry into the dungeon, and enemies and maps look virtually identical.
But it’s when combat begins that realisation hits. Designer Terry Kavanagh and his team haven’t abided by the adage of ‘more of the same’ – they have completely reworked the identity of each and every character, to the point of making Dicey Dungeons an almost completely new game.
Let’s start with the Warrior. A little vanilla in Dicey Dungeons, the Warrior is now our favourite. We could tell something was up when they were moved from one-star difficulty to three. The Warrior now dabbles in something called ‘Workouts’. These are, for lack of a better term, side-quests that you can complete while progressing through the dungeon. Contribute dice to their cards (and they will often be a stretch: things like three fives, or a total of twenty), and you will pull off something dazzling. It will either be hugely powerful and temporary, or something permanent for the rest of your run. You can steamroll your opponent for huge chunks of damage, or you can persistently top up your max HP or the number of dice you have. It’s like a mini-RPG, baked into the middle of a game of Yahtzee. We loved it.
Most impressively, the Witch is less a character and more a completely new game mode. Reminding us of the Challenges that often came with the annual Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers games, these are carefully designed board layouts where you have to clear out every last piece of equipment. That means duplicating and rerolling dice, upsizing and downsizing them, so that you can satisfy every criteria on the board. Need a five? You might need to reduce a three by one, and then flip the dice to make it a five. It’s enough to tie you into knots and turn your pupils into double-ones.
Each character gets a similar revamp. Previously, the Robot was a game of Blackjack but with dice. This time, the Robot has become a game of Heads or Tails, and there’s not a dice in sight. If you generate more heads or tails than you have slots, then your turn is over. Robot clearly has a gambling problem, as – no matter what expansion he is in – there’s a casino feel to his mechanics.
With every dice character pulling the rug from beneath you and expecting you to stand, there is much to learn. All of your previous tactics are lost to the winds, so you have to master these all over again. And in the case of the Witch, if you’re anything like us, you will struggle to get past even the first chapter. Damn you Madison, the Witch’s infuriating boss.
Dicey Dungeons Reunion DLC has just as much depth as the previous Halloween expansion, as it’s possible to complete each of the six campaigns six times over, with more debilitating handicaps each time. That’s a significant amount of playtime: dozens of hours if you’re good, hundreds if you’re not. We’re probably more over to the latter.
It feels churlish to complain about a free slice of DLC, but – if this were a paid joint – we would have grumbled about some things it lacked. While there are some new enemies – particularly in the bosses and a few mythological beasts – the vast majority are old news. We felt like we had played a large number of them before, and they haven’t been completely rewritten like the characters have.
The same goes for the equipment, which will pull from a library that, again, has a hint of familiarity. You’re probably looking at ten or twenty percent of them being new items, which might be on the lower end for some expectant players. And we should of course remind that Dicey Dungeons is not for everyone. It’s still as dependent on randomness for its kicks, and that gloomy sense that you did nothing incorrect but still lost, well, that might be too much for some.
But let us counter by offering a few additions that we can’t take for granted. New achievements give us something new to chase, while the mighty Chipzel has been drafted in to supply some customarily brilliant music. And while there isn’t anything new in the story – it’s still the bitter and twisted Lady Luck torturing her captives – there are some natty one-liners that will make you chuckle.
So take note, game developers, Reunion is what true DLC looks like: a completely free reason to return to Dicey Dungeons, with enough in its campaign to keep you rolling for dozens of hours. But, more than that, it’s a complete shake up of the original game. While the characters may have their original names, these are hot new takes, and – dare we say it – some of those takes are more enjoyable. With this free addition, it’s fair to say that we’ve been utterly spoiled.
Dicey Dungeons Reunion is completely free, and can be accessed by purchasing Dicey Dungeons from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S