Title: Dandy Ace
Developer: Mad Mimic
Release Date: March 25, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Action Roguelike
Dandy Ace is the first action roguelike game developed by the Brazilian team Mad Mimic, who has previously released the co-op adventure No Heroes Here. Revolving around the theme of magic tricks and illusionism, it is a colorful and solid example of the genre.
Because of his success and popularity, Dandy Ace quickly overshadowed the illusionist Lele. While attempting to get revenge over this situation, the Green-Eyed Illusionist traps the magician in a mirror. Along with his assistant, he attempts to find a way home, but he’ll have to fight through the Ever-Changing Palace areas, reach Lele and defeat him. At his disposal is an arsenal of cards that represent multiple skills.
There are three types of cards: blue (movement-related), pink (fast attacks), and yellow (hard attacks). Blue cards are usually important for evasive maneuvers, though the player will also hit enemies in the trajectory. They also include abilities such as dashing or even minor teleports with extra effects.
Pink cards are likely to be very used by the player during combat. They offer a faster means of attack, though that speed varies from card to card. Compared to them, yellow cards take longer to recharge but may pack a punch or cause some interesting effect, like pushing enemies or stunning them.
At the start of the game, the player is given one card of each category, all of which are on level 1 (it’s possible to upgrade starting levels later). Levels define strength and become stronger the deeper the player is in the dungeon.
There is a total of 8 card slots to fill, but only 4 of those are meant to be directly used. The other half is turned into passive effects for the main cards, adding a layer of experimentation to the gameplay.
For instance, it’s possible to combine the “throwing cards” skill with another card that deals poison damage or one that creates an area of damage around the enemy you hit. These “bonus effects” are logical derivations of their main effects, not being quite the same.
A card that causes charm as a side effect may apply it to other cards, but it could also make enemies explode and charm whoever is nearby. These effects can be read in the card description and sometimes have specific use cases. One such example is that equipping them to a blue card may have different effects than doing it to a pink card.
There are many cards to experiment with, some of which can be unlocked through the game’s shop. These combinations allow the player to try specific techniques that feel unique and magical.
Using those skills, the player can explore the castle, which actually includes multiple routes. Though the game is a roguelike, there are set paths to travel, as each area has a set of enemies that’ll be placed randomly in multiple groups.
As the player progresses through this maze, they can get special keys based on the four card suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades). Those unlock other paths, some of which will lead to alternate routes, offering extra replay value.
For every enemy defeated, the player gets money and sometimes crystals. Money is meant to acquire cards and items that only matter for that run. It can be used on a wagon that’s randomly available on the floors.
Crystals can be spent on permanent upgrades. These can be used at Dandy Ace’s assistant shop, which is available whenever the player hits a new floor. It’s possible to get benefits such as new cards, free card reshuffle on the stores, or unlocking trinkets’ powers.
Trinkets are items that enemies occasionally drop, and the player can use them to get skills such as extended time for their attacks’ effects. However, if the player dies before reaching the next floor, they’re lost.
Other usage for the crystals is the Nnif’s shop, which can be accessed after defeating a boss. Important upgrades such as raising the initial level of cards can be bought there, making it an important store.
The areas are composed of multiple waves of enemies, but the player can use various portals to move fast through the areas. It’s even possible to leave cupcakes (the game’s cure items) behind and teleport to them instantly using the menu, as long as the player isn’t trapped in a locked room.
Besides all the gameplay elements mentioned, it’s interesting to notice how magician allegories are deeply ingrained in the game. Attacks, areas, enemies and objects are all connected by the thread of magic tricks, making for a unique and inspired design all around.
Diving through the palace as Dandy Ace feels just as cool and stylish as the character is made up to be. The areas are colorful, filled with glamour and wonder of a dazzling land that’s fascinating for anyone who’s ever seen a few things about old-styled magicians with their long hats and capes.
It’s interesting how the game’s narration is done by Lele, who’s the main antagonist. He has funny quips for every little thing, which I personally really enjoyed hearing. But, in case the player feels annoyed by him, there’s the possibility to silence him completely as well.
Dandy Ace is a colorful, magical action roguelike that’s consistent in its design and fascinating in its unique theme choice. With its card combination system for skills at the forefront, it can offer some good hours of fun and experimentation during battles.
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