Slice, Dice & Rice is a finely crafted fighting game with a few twists. It is in the world of the afterlife in Japan, the fighters rise again to continue their quest. The game is presented to us in comic-like, calligraphy art style, but with life-like physics in the background scenery. The most notable feature is the instant death system where the game calculates the damage of each hit by the seriousness of each wound.
The story surprisingly makes logical sense:
Slice, Dice & Rice takes place in the afterlife in hell. This justified the instant death and multiple matches. Each character goes on quests for their own reasons, but each story is also somehow related in chronological order.
The game features three game modes, Story, Versus, and Dojo:
- Story Mode: Start with one character and unlocks another character after the story, up to a total of 10 characters including two secret characters. When you encounter milestone or significant opponents, there will be some conversations between them.
- Versus Mode: You can do PvP, PvE, and even EvE if you want to see how PC
- Dojo Mode: Just like PvP Versus, except that you don’t die. Similar to Practice mode in other fighting games.
Each character offers different play-style and they all have their unique strength and weaknesses. It is not a surprise that a character’s specific strength can completely overwhelm another character’s weakness.
- Kojiro: Samurai, goes on the quest to find a worthy opponent. He wields a samurai sword and has the highest defense in the game. He eventually killed Shinigami and claimed the hell’s throne, but was possessed by Yama.
- Tengu: A crow-like avian humanoid, on a quest to claim godhood. He has blades on all four. An expert in air combat.
- Yoketsu: This female Hercules is one of the great-granddaughters of Genghis Khan. She goes on the quest to find a worthy man after death. Her extremely large sword makes her slow but deadly. Even though she is slow, her movement can somehow avoid attacks while she is swinging.
- Benkei: Martial artist. After beaten by Yoketsu, fell in love wth her, and goes on the quest marry her. He carries no weapon so his attack range is the shortest. Luckily his attack connects very quickly for two attacks, and his guard ability is actually a counter attack.
- Tomoe: Ninja, also Death’s servant was sent out on a mission to find out how to defeat Kojiro. She duel-wield ninja weapons. A typical glass cannon that hits extremely hard and fast, yet extremely flimsy.
- Shinigami: God of Death. Lost his throne after beaten by Kojiro. He sends out Tomoe to find out Kojiro’s weakness and hired Yojimbo after. His scythe provides the longest attack range of all characters, but his movement is slow.
- Yojimbo: Ronin, also Kojiro’s nemesis. Goes on the quest to obtain god’s power to slay Kojiro.
- Monkey King: After Yojimbo and Kojiro’s combat, hell became peaceful. The Monkey king goes on a quest to restore Chaos to hell. This character wields a long weapon which sacrifices his reaction time.
To solve the logic of having same characters versus each other in that most fighting games, Dojo Games included three supernatural beings who can possess the characters:
- Yokai – Monsters. Most of the things coming out of possessed character’s mouth are unintelligible.
- Kami – God. Tengu obtained Kami’s power after eating the rice in the Holy Shrine.
- Yama – Oda Nobunaga, the most powerful daimyo of Japan. There are plenty of legend around this guy, but generally, he is considered as a demon in Japan. Possessed characters become harder to beat.
Chinese Calligraphy art style is the perfect graphic for this Japanese themed game:
Slice, Dice & Rice is presented to us in comic-like, calligraphy art style on the character. The photo-realistic background scenery moves as if there are winds blowing. It also features oriental instrumental background music. Everything in this game fits together perfectly. However, this game is extremely gory. There is blood everywhere, and some killing blows decapitates your opponents.
Themed background scenes:
- Tengu Forest – A burning forest with corpse hanging off tree.
- God’s Mountains – Features rocks and floating buildings.
- Jigoku – Japanese Hell, where the king of hell’s throne is.
- Forgotten City – A scene with canal with shops on both sides.
- Yonaguni – Bamboo forest with buddha’s sculpture.
- Holy Shrine – A Japanese temple with dragon sculpture.
The movements are simple and work well:
Slice, Dice & Rice does not have moves that you have to press in the correct order within a fixed time period to execute. Nor does it have complicated combo to remember for different characters. There are only 4 actions: Vertical, Horizontal, Heavy Attack, and Guard. They have different variations while the character is air-bourn. Double tap on either front or back to dash, either in air or on ground. It is very simple to start playing, but as the player gets familiar with the game, we are introduced to the concept of “Cancel”. The whole game is reading your opponent’s movement and take the right action to avoid death. “Cancel” opens the door of tricking your opponent to expose their weakness. There’s more to the game than meets the eye.
Dojo Games has realized my childhood dream:
Slice, Dice & Rice has the fighting system I have been dreaming of since I was young. Screw HP bars, instant kill of your opponent that got stabbed in vital part is the way to go. This should be the way to go, but perhaps it was too hard to execute and calculate. Dojo Games made it happen, so kudos to them.
The clever way instant kill system was carried out is each character have preset attack and defense value. Most of the time, you kill your opponent with one hit, but if you just scratched your opponent with the tip of your sword, they are not going to die, only wounded. However, fighters can be wounded to the point where he is not able to jump or have other physical ability impaired. There are penalties, but there’s still chance to overturn the tide. I have been killed at full health, by an opponent that is so heavily wounded that he couldn’t even jump.
The continue screen after defeat sometimes shows tips such as “Unagi is a state of total awareness. Only by achieving true unagi can you be prepared for any danger that may befall you”, Master Geller. I have been wondering why there are two Chinese characters of a freshwater Eel at the bottom of the screen. If Unagi is present, when a critical attack is coming your way, time will slow for one second, allowing you to react to the danger. This is not only humorous but also adds to the game mechanic.
If I may be a little greedy to suggest:
Dojo Games has done a great job with Slice, Dice & Rice. If I have to push the boundaries a little bit and mention some possible improvements, it’ll be the ability to disarm or disable certain movements. This idea comes from the loss of ability to jump, and I think expanding on that can give the game more complexity. Perhaps a heavy attack that knocks off the weapons and the fighter has to use relatively clumsy means of attack until the weapon is picked back up. Or when Tomoe guarding a heavy attack over her capacity may disable her hands forcing her to kick her way to victory.
This game is well worth the $10.99 CAD price tag on Steam. It’s a simple game with a lot of thought behind every decision.
Publish: 2017 April
Developed by: Dojo Games (Please let me know if you can find the web address for these guys)
Published by: Playway S.A.