Death Dice Overdose
A Casual Game Review

South Africaby Mandy J Watson
Posted: 6 March 2009

Overdosing is never fun, except in this game, and in playing this game so much that you take three weeks to write the review (though some might argue that that's not fun). Anyway, if you like fast-paced madness that's oddly zen and usually over in 30 seconds, Death Dice Overdose is your game.

Death Dice OverdoseIn Death Dice Overdose you control a stickman who's on the verge of a stress-induced death because dice are falling from the sky and trying to kill him. (Why? Who knows. Run with it... or, more accurately, run away from it.) If his stress level (indicated by the shock gage [sic] at the bottom of the screen on the right-hand side) goes over a certain point he will die so he needs to consume happy pills to lower his stress levels and keep his sanity in check. However, if he consumes too many pills his shock gauge turns black as he overdoses and he starts to hallucinate, which adds some trippy effects into the gameplay area that may mess with your ability to control him (or not, if trippy awesome gameplay is your thing).

Oddly, your stickman can't actually die from an overdose, just from stress overload, a falling block, or a Death Dice hazard.

Three types of blocks fall from the sky. In normal gameplay they are gaming dice and in overdose mode the dice become slightly larger pink blocks with various facial expressions. In both modes a black Death Dice [sic] can fall and, depending on which random side displays once it has landed, one of six hazards will occur. Not all Death Dice hazards are bad (although you still don't want to touch the blocks themselves until their hazards have been triggered). Whirlwinds can toss you to a difficult section of the screen. The bouncing, spikey ball, however, will stalk you, then knock you out if it touches you, causing you to die in a splattery mess when you hit the ground. Other Death Dice effects will give you a gift of tons of pills.

You use the arrow keys to run and jump (a mouse is only necessary to navigate the game menus). Even though he's just a stickman the animation is smooth and the controls are very responsive - it's some of the best movement programming I've seen in a casual game.

Events, from the positions of the falling blocks to the number of pills appearing on screen, occur totally randomly so you will sometimes end up in a frustrating position in which you are trapped by blocks falling on all sides and can't get out or there are just no pills appearing to pick up and your stress level is hitting the danger zone. It's unfortunate that this occasionally happens but as each game is usually very short it's not really a huge problem. To my mind, it's all part of the gameplay and the random nature of dice. You're taking your chances.

Both the title-screen music and the in-game music, apparently by 14-year-old Kongregate gamer "paragonx", are superb. I find most casual games have terrible, distracting music and I usually have to switch it off but Death Dice Overdose's in-game music has a frenetic insanity to it that's well matched to the gameplay and very entertaining. It doesn't get old and it doesn't get in the way of your concentration at all. However, if the music is not to your taste you can switch it off.

The only way to switch off the sound effects, unfortunately, is to mute your computer's sound as there is no in-game button to do that but the effects are minimal, unintrusive, and don't clutter the soundscape. There's a pleasant whoosh when you pick up a pill and a metallic clunk when a Death Dice bounces, plus some other effects for the hazards, which are useful attention grabbers if you missed the hazard icon on a particular Death Dice and don't know what nightmare is about to be thrust upon you.

Death Dice Overdose

There is one bug in the game, which causes it to play incrementally slower and slower with each successive reply until it feels as if you're playing sluggishly under water. This is possibly an issue that has to do with the game not releasing computer memory that it's using after each game, effectively clogging it up, but the game developer, so far, doesn't know how to fix it so the only solution is to refresh the browser window to get the Flash file to reload. On the other hand, if you prefer the slower pace (all the gameplay mechanics still happen at the same relative speed, it's just that everything happens more slowly), then take advantage of it and play at that reduced pace.

Overall, though, this is a great game (by an 18-year-old from England) that's an excellent balance of quick gameplay, short game length, and infinite replayability. We're addicted to it.

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Notes: There are currently two badges available for gamers who have (free) profiles at Kongregate. Opinion
Rating: 8/10
Time-Wasting Value: 20 seconds to five minutes per game
Learning Curve: 4/10
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Replayability: 9/10

Key Facts
Price: Free
Year: 2008
Genre: Action
Size: Approximately 2.5 MB (embedded Flash file)
Requirements: Internet connection, Adobe Flash Player, mouse (only to navigate the menus; the gameplay only requires a keyboard)
Creator: Greg Sergeant
Music: paragonx Speak Your Mind

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