‘Slice & Dice’ Is This Year (And Last Year’s) Best Roguelite

'Slice and Dice' has the best turn-based combat I've seen in years.
A party of
Screenshot by Vice.

Slice & Dice is the year’s best roguelike. It was also last year’s, too, but I didn’t know that then. The game, which was released last year, but recently received a massive 2.0 update and mobile release, is arguably one of the most engaging turn-based games I’ve ever played.

In Slice & Dice, you control a party of five adventurers from 100 different classes, as they journey through a 20-level dungeon. Each character has a six-sided die, on each face of which is a different action. The Lost, for example, is a character from the Rogue archetype with three melee faces, which deal double damage to enemies under half health, and a ranged poison attack. Her other two sides are blank. Your enemies are bound by the same constraints.

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Each turn, all of your characters roll their respective dice, and you choose which results you’d like to keep and which you’d like to reroll. Once you reroll twice (or more if you have a die which can generate additional rerolls), you’re stuck with what you’ve chosen and the results of the final roll. At this point, you target your abilities, and end your turn. The enemy then executes on their own actions.

Slice & Dice’s greatest strength, like Into The Breach before it, is its decision to provide the player with perfect information. Enemy actions are chosen before you act, which allows you to plan accordingly—and the game will demand you plan well. Slice & Dice is, at first, an exceptionally difficult game. Early fights, even against basic enemies, can kill you if you aren’t careful. 

A group of enemies.

Screenshot by Vice.

Oftentimes, especially against bosses, you will begin your turn with three heroes slated to die under the enemy’s onslaught. The joy of Slice & Dice is choreographing the perfect route to keep all of them alive with the tools at your disposal.

An example: You are fighting the Slime Queen. She is wounded, and two of her spawn stand at each of her flanks. Three of your heroes are going to die this turn. The queen will fire a volley of acid, killing the Berserker, and wounding the Student, an apprentice mage, and the Acolyte, a skilled healer. They will be killed as well, when the smaller slimes finish them off. You roll. 

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The Lost draws her dagger, which is serrated and terrible. It will deal two damage to the queen, it could be four if she were already under half HP. You need it to be four. The student charges mana to unleash a spell. He begins weak, but grows with every use of his mana die. He is a fast learner. The rest of the rolls are garbage. The Berserker rolls a high damage attack, but one that will kill him before the enemy does with the recoil. The Acolyte comes up empty, unable to find an opening in the melee. The Defender rolls a medium shield, but it won’t be enough to make the difference between life and death for anyone. You roll again.

The Berserker gets lucky. Deathwish. This is a modifier which makes an attack deal double damage if the user is set to die this turn. He grips his sword tight, and leans into the glory of his demise. He will, at the very least, leave the Queen weak. The Acolyte manages to roll a group heal spell. It isn’t much, but it could keep her alive as long as the Queen is killed before she gets the chance to attack. The Student is still fated to die. The Defender comes up empty. You roll again, and pray.

The abilities of a wizard.

Screenshot by Vice.

It isn’t what you were hoping for. The defender doesn’t roll the perfect shield, doesn’t give you the easy out you were praying for. Instead, he draws his weapon, and gets ready to put every ounce of himself behind it. The Student and Berserker will die. You will be finished off the next turn. 

But then you see it. A route through. 

The Berserker charges in. When he gets close, he plants his right foot in the ground and swings, swings so hard that the sword’s momentum almost wrenches his shoulder out of socket. But his attack lands. He tears through slime, through the mostly vestigial organs suspended in the creature, and leaves a gaping, gelatinous wound. The student, who has been charging his mana for the last three turns finally lets loose. Two strokes of air cut across all of the slimes. It doesn’t do much, but it opens the queen up further. The Lost trails behind the cutting wind, and drives her dagger into an exposed, and essential, part of the queen’s incomprehensible biology, killing her. 

The Defender sees his chance. He knew he felt compelled to draw his sword for a reason. The slime, which is going to kill the Student, is open. His blade is crude—it is intended to be used as a last resort—but it is heavy. Heavy is what he needs. He runs in and crushes the thing, wounded by the Student. And it splits into two. The Acolyte heals. The Defender breathes heavily. He will have to rest next turn. The remaining large slime attacks, burning the Acolyte, but not enough to kill her. Everyone lives. Next turn, you will have to do all of this again.

Into The Breach’s greatest strength is its ability to surface the tactical dance of mech combat, and all of the drama it entails, to its players—Slice & Dice manages to do the same for the high stakes melodrama of fantasy combat. Ask any fantasy TTRPG group, the best adventuring parties bring together disparate personalities and disciplines, creating a group of misfits who should not be able to survive what they, inevitably, do. They are messy underdogs who, in the face of impossible odds and an uncaring, luck driven world, take hold of fate itself and find a way through.