Dandy Ace review: Now you see me...

Mad Mimic's Dandy Ace is a roguelike full of style and flair.

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The roguelike is one of gaming’s most fascinating genres, as its deceptive simplicity can pave the way for some truly back-breakingly difficult gameplay. We've seen many developers take a crack at the genre, and now Developer Mad Mimic looks to deliver high-level roguelike gameplay that’s bursting with style in Dandy Ace.

Pulling the rabbit out of the hat

Dandy Ace is a roguelike in which players take on the role of the titular Dandy Ace, an infamous magician trapped in a magical mirror. With a few tricks up his sleeve, Dandy will need to take down a countless number of enemies and eventually the Green-Eyed Illusionist in order to free himself.

Though Roguelikes either succeed or fail based on their gameplay, the story in Dandy Ace opens it up for some excellent humor. Though you’re constantly working to defeat him, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the jokes cracked by the Green-Eyed Illusionist, particularly after getting killed during a run. The game’s sense of humor is a great companion to its over-the-top sense of style and flair. 

A dangerous gambit

Trapped inside of a palace in a strange dimension, Dandy Ace must fight through a series of procedurally generated levels in order to eventually free himself. Along the way, players will find cards, each adding a new attack, ability, or traversal technique to Dandy’s arsenal. However, players are only given four card slots, which forced me to strategize which cards would be the most useful in a given situation. 

Whenever you die, it’s back to square one, and you’ll have to rebuild your card collection. In addition to being dropped by killed enemies, cards can be purchased outright using coins at a shopping tent. 

As is expected with the genre, combat is brutal in Dandy Ace. With multiple enemies often converging at once, I had to be constantly on the go, dashing and teleporting around the map while flinging stars and cards as quickly as I could. Once I got in a good rhythm of combining my attacks in the most efficient way, I felt like Gambit from the X-Men.

The map is populated with a series of teleporters, allowing Dandy to quickly warp to past locations. This was helpful in cases where I needed to find a cupcake (restores helth), get to a tent, or just dodge combat for a brief moment and collect my thoughts. 

Dandy Ace does fall victim to an issue that plagues a lot of roguelikes - repetitiveness. The gameplay loop can feel worn out at times, especially when you’re constantly going up against the same enemies and using the same array of attacks. The unique boss battles did however offer a fresh change of pace throughout the game. 

The greatest showman

The greatest magicians are often the best showmen, using flair and energy to elevate everything that they do. Dandy Ace lives up to this, as the game is bursting with color. From the variety of moves and abilities, to the enemies, and the environments as a whole, it’s a vibrant world that’s stuffed with detail. 

I do wish that this unique sense of style was applied to the world/map layout. Though the environments are constantly changing, it did feel a bit formulaic, not straying too far from anything we’ve seen before in similar games. 

The prestige

Dandy Ace delivers as a challenging roguelike, with difficult enemies and bosses galore. The use of cards allows players the freedom to fine-tune their loadout to be the most efficient for their respective playstyle. Add on top of that the visually pleasing art style and use of color, and you’ve got yourself one magical roguelike.


This review is based on a Steam code provided by the publisher. Dandy Ace is available now on PC for $19.99.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

Review for
Dandy Ace
8
Pros
  • Challenging, satisfying combat
  • Card mechanic allows for plenty of customization
  • Colorful and vibrant world
Cons
  • Gameplay loop can get repetitive
  • World layout feels pretty basic at times
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