Just Short Of A Royal Flush

HIGH Loads of ability customization.

LOW Limited enemy designs and strategies.

WTF Temporal rifts are weaker than a thrown wand?

Dandy Ace is a master of illusion and magic that he practices with his two apprentices, Jolly Jolly and Jenny Jenny. From out of nowhere, a mysterious figure casts a spell on the trio and locks them in a cursed mirror. Now, it’s time for Dandy Ace to put his tricks to work — not to entertain, but to escape this ever-changing prison.

Dandy Ace puts players in the titular role of this card-based isometric action-roguelike that will have them exploring the cursed mirror and fighting enemies in an effort to escape.

Cards are dropped by enemies or can be purchased in shops, and they’re split between attack, control and movement types. In a neat twist, each card has a slot that can be enhanced by an additional card.

For example, a ‘control’ card that stuns enemies can be combined with a ‘dash’ card to give players a speed boost when they use it. Alternatively, that same ‘control’ card can instead be used to enhance an ‘attack’ card so that it will deal more damage to stunned enemies. The multitude of cards and interactions between them gives players near-endless possibilities.

Since Dandy Ace is built on the idea of cards, there’s a bit of luck to it, which brings the experience down for me. There were many times when the cards that I had access to wouldn’t work well with my current build, or would even make my build worse if I simply picked them up — many runs were ruined for me because of this. I actually chose to stop unlocking new cards because I wanted to limit the cards that would show up during runs.

This aspect actually hurts the replay value of the game – -a key factor for most roguelikes. Once players have gone through all of the rooms of the game on Normal mode, players are treated to a harder difficulty, but that’s it. There was little appeal in unlocking new cards and not much else to do other than exploring randomly-found rooms I hadn’t visited yet.

What is perhaps the worst news for Dandy Ace is the fact that Hades exists. From the isometric perspective, to the room-by-room movement, to the enemies and power combinations, there are more than a few parallels and the comparisons aren’t favorable — the attack types don’t feel as focused, there aren’t as many characters in the world to talk to, and failing a run doesn’t give any story progression. Dandy Ace isn’t bad, but the bar for games like it has now been raised very, very high.

I enjoy roguelikes in general and I did enjoy the card-combining mechanics overall, but it feels a bit like the window for Dandy Ace‘s success has now closed.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Mad Mimic and published by Neowiz.  It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 15 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRBthis game is rated E and contains Mild Fantasy Violence. There are monsters that players will fight with magical cards, wands, and spells. There’s no blood or gore, and enemies turn into puffs of smoke when defeated. No worries with younger children here.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Text on the cards and hovering over them will increase the size slightly, but the text is not resizable overall. Playing with no sound doesn’t hinder gameplay. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls:  Players can use keyboard and mouse, which are remappable. However, the game recommends playing on a controller, which is not remappable.

Eugene Sax
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