Ever close your eyes to sleep, and still see Tetris blocks rotating and falling beneath your eyelids? Welcome to the next addicting puzzle game that will have you up at night playing and advance you to the next level in the Procrastinator's Hall of Fame. This game was originally named XI and developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.; it was then picked up by THQ and renamed Devil Dice due to its "devilishly addictive" gameplay.
Devil Dice is a unique game and a winner for avid puzzle-fans who are tired of the endless Tetris clones. In this game you take control of a little devil and must manipulate and match six sided dice. This game might be a little confusing if you haven't glanced at the one-page instructions or viewed the online instructions, but once you've checked either one out, the game is a cinch to understand.
Devil Dice has a visual online tutorial that demonstrates how you control a little red devil, who in turn controls each die he is walking on. If the die he's moving comes in contact with another die, then he has the option of moving onto it or any other touching die. When he's on top of a die and moves it, it rotates and displays a new number. If he's on the ground, he can then push the die around the playfield but is unable to rotate it. He can get off the floor by hopping on any die rising. He can make a block of dice disappear by matching up multiples of dice with the number currently displayed on the die (for example, you want to connect two twos, three threes, four fours and so on). Once he's accomplished this, he's able to hop on other die and continue the chain by connecting it to the sinking block with the same number. After playing with this game long enough, you'll find you're able to get multi-hit combos with ease and will drastically improve your score. Each die has a red one (called the "happy one") and if you connect this to the sinking block you'll successfully clear off all the ones on the board. This becomes extremely important as the game progresses because it will clear up precious board space and keep the game going (in trial mode, it's over when the board is completely filled with dice).
Four game modes are available: battle, puzzle, trial, and wars. Puzzle is a great place for beginners to start because it will give you some of the basic strategies you will need to master for success. Puzzle mode starts out with an easy series of puzzles that you must solve in a limited number of turns. If you're able to succeed with the current puzzle, you get to move onto the next; otherwise you have to keep trying it until it's solved. When you complete a block of ten, you unlock a new picture that covers your playing field. There are over twenty different pictures that vary from abstract art to close-up shots of the game characters and a woman's face. I'm glad multiple pictures are available because it makes it worthwhile to replay the puzzles until you've viewed them all.
The next mode players will want to visit is trial mode where you can play solo in a timed or un-timed game. If you're new to the game, un-timed is the way to go as you try to make rows disappear in a play field that is constantly sprouting dice. This a great way to hone your skills for battles and wars, and it is a lot of fun if you're just starting out because you're not getting frustrated with the computer beating up on you.
If you want some head-to-head competition then you can select battle mode. In this mode, you can play against another human opponent or against the computer. Before the match, you select the difficulty level and the game requires you to fill anywhere from three to six boxes of objectives. This is accomplished the same way as in trial mode, except that your opponent can wipe out your success by connecting the same series as you (for example if you both connect two two's). This feature can make this a very long game and reminds me of the card game War.
The last and most frustrating mode is War. In this mode you can play up to five other opponents, but you need additional equipment if you want all five to be human; otherwise you can play against the computer. You start off in a huge playfield filled partially with dice and each character having a strength meter. When a player completes a chain, the opponents take some damage and the last one standing (or has the most strength when the time runs out) wins. It's difficult to complete chains because someone else is constantly mucking with it and on occasion you even get stuck on the same die as an opponent and end up fighting over what direction to go. I didn't like this mode much and found myself playing the other game modes more frequently.
The graphics for this game are done well, with the menus having a pleasing touch. The tutorial and characters are beautifully designed and the devils are well-animated. I enjoyed the music because it has a variety of styles that range from jazz to rock and enhances gameplay instead of interfering with it. I have a pet peeve with games that have such loud/irritating music that it keeps breaking your concentration, but luckily this wasn't the case.
This is a great game if you enjoy puzzles, although it's a bit difficult to master. People will either hate this game because of its steep learning curve, or love the challenge it presents and become quickly addicted. I definitely recommend renting it first to find out which is the case, and then making the decision whether to buy it.