Impeccable style and intense action combine in this roguelite adventure.
The roguelite genre is full of tension. The world you’re in, the gear you adventure with and the enemies you fight all come with a layer of decision making that is unique to the genre. This is because each failure brings with it a new set of challenges as it reshuffles your path and options before attempting it again. Dandy Ace by Mad Mimic and published by Neowiz captures all of these elements and dresses the package up with a dashing sense of style.
You’re Dandy Ace, a gentleman magician who’s gotten himself and his assistants captured by the ambitious Lele, The Green-Eyed Illusionist. Your prison is his palace within a cursed mirror and it’s filled to the brim with monsters and minions loyal to your quirky captor. Using your wit, skills and randomly-generated ability cards, you’ll storm Lele’s palace to get to the bottom of his nefarious agenda. Combat is defined by how well you adapt to the three-card hand you’re dealt at the beginning of each run and can land in a wide range of play styles, from big damage keep-away to quick-killing hit-and-run. Your cards are bound to one of four action slots and fall into one of three colors; pink cards are mainly offensive projectiles, yellow cards are usually traps or stuns and blue cards are your mobility spells.
Each of these actions can have an extra card slotted into them to create flashy custom attack combos by using the secondary effects on each card. Mixing and matching these abilities can make weaker cards into powerhouses or give you some extra breathing room on a dash, making experimenting and unlocking new skills in this open-ended system a ton of fun. These cards also level up and upgraded cards can be found in chests, shops, or back in your base after unlocking them. You’ll need every edge you can get, as failure isn’t a favorable outcome within the cursed mirror and each death starts you all the way back at the start. The random nature of fresh runs can also be brutal, especially when Ace begins to unlock more cards for his starting hand, as some simply do not work well together.
Ace’s lovely assistants are waiting for him at the end of each level, ready to help out with upgrades and artifacts that unlock new perks and skills for a price. The world of the cursed mirror branches off Star Fox style into a few different paths that lead to a final destination. These paths are locked behind gates whose keys are found deep within the palace but persist with Ace through death when obtained, permanently opening these areas up for you to explore on subsequent runs. Unlocking these areas opens up the map which can reveal anything from alternate paths to hidden treasures, which are always enticing when you can see just passed the locked gates. These areas also house more enemies, which will do all they can to swarm you.
The bizarre denizens of the cursed mirror are all out to stop Ace however they can with their master constantly taunting you the entire time. The psychedelic stages of the palace are littered with ambushes that may catch you off guard the first few times, but become quickly predictable as you learn to read the stage layouts. While this is a bit deflating, it does nothing to take away from the exciting open-ended combat or the challenge of the boss battles. You’ll find yourself eagerly rushing into action to test your new attack combos by smashing your enemies to a pulp with flashy maneuvers and set-ups that always feel rewarding to pull off. Couple this with fully voice-acted dialogue and the killer soundtrack that bumps as you make your way through the monster-infested palace and you’ve got a game that oozes charm from start to finish.
Dandy Ace is roguelite with a ton of style. From the flashy and colorful rival magician aesthetic, to the open-ended combat system, there is no shortage of flair in this title. The game nails the addictive quality of the genre and it can be tough to fight the urge to go for one more run after you’ve discovered a cool new combo or get deep into the palace. The random nature of the game is a mixed bag, with randomly-generated level layouts quickly becoming predictable and not adding much in lieu of challenge or suspense. On the other hand, a bad starting hand can be especially punishing to the point of justifying a restart. While these small nitpicks can add up in the long run, especially since the story doesn’t end on the first playthrough, Dandy Ace proves that it is a solid entry into the genre and doesn’t deserve to be missed by roguelite fans.
– Great soundtrack.
– Robust, open-ended combat system.
– Branching paths create different gameplay experiences.
– Twitch mode for stream interaction.
– Predictable level layouts.
– Frustrating roguelite elements.
– Unremarkable storyline.
3 out of 5
Steam Review code provided by Team Critical Hit. Dandy Ace is available 3/24/2021