A real time strategy lovers dream come true.
gameplay 86 / story 40 / graphics 95 / sound 81
Dungeon of the Endless is a rogue-like strategy tower defense indie game… with this many tags, it’s more like a broken prison system than anything known as cohesive enough to follow. Developed by AMPLITUDE Studios, the minds behind Endless Legend, the Endless Space series, and more recently Love Thyself – A Horatio Story, and published by Sega around Halloween of 2014.
I should start this review by noting there isn’t really any plot in the game beyond the history certain characters have with others, which I’ll go into more later. In Dungeon of the Endless you play as 1 to 4 adventurers whose ship blew up in outer orbit forcing you and your goons to launch to the closest planet via an escape pod, only to find yourself landing in a dungeon that you now have to climb out of while utilizing the power of your escape pods power source to both defend you, clear a path, and act as a power source for the lifts to get to each floor.
I presume you’re thinking “yes, a rogue-like in a dungeon, very original.” But it’s the type of rogue-like that’s tolerable instead of insufferably smug about the fact you keep dying to certain segments. Things get harder the higher/deeper you get into the dungeon in a fairly respectable manner. Each floor is an unpowered, pitch-black, monster-infested death trap. You have to build resource generators for your food, scrap metal, or science to keep them all equally supplied while trying to find dust to gain more power so you can illuminate more rooms as needed. If a room is unpowered, monsters can spawn in it, if monsters hit your crystal you lose more power, a nightmare snowball effect type of deal. You use the food to heal/upgrade your characters, science to research new weaponry or improve upon what you already have, scrap metal is the thing that lets you build all this stuff to begin with, so it is vital to have a decent source of that flowing at all times.
I should also emphasize that your play style is going to be impacted by the type of escape pod you select, you have several choices at hand each with minor yet heavily impacting effects. The default pod, which doesn’t give or take anything away. The infirmary pod which gives your heroes 2x health and reduces the cost of food it takes to heal them, but you don’t auto-heal with it after each fight and most equipment is replaced with stat-boosting drugs, as well as forcing all passive health regens to be a minor defense boost. The library pod, which is my favorite, makes your heroes twice as smart, gives you a lot more resources and modules to work with, but you have no food module at the start so you’re going to vastly be relying on your building strategy more or less. The drill pod, which is just endless mode where you start with nearly nothing and have to build it up over time. The armory pod that lets you start with a full roster of four heroes and gives you a truckload of equipment at the start, but you have only the food module while not being able to research other modules, and no other heroes will spawn throughout the rest of the dungeon, so what you start with is what you get.
And that’s only a few of the many pods you can choose from, but I assume you’re curious what ‘heroes’ you have to choose from. Well there are dozens, and you unlock most of them by finding them IN the dungeon, but they have to survive a few floors before counting as unlocked. Though as a cute reference, four of the TF2 crew members are here Medic, Pyro, Engie, and Heavy. Also, some characters have a bad history with one another, so way later down the line, the two will fight to the death and the winner is selected randomly… Yeah, you wanna be careful about that, I’ve had runs ruined thanks to that.
This game is fun, I love it a lot. But, take into account that I am a strategy fan when I say this, the number of play styles and strategies make this game feel pretty golden to me. Which is why it breaks my heart to know I missed out when it first came out. I didn’t discover Dungeon of the Endless until 2017 and by then the multiplayer servers had withered and dried out like a jellyfish covered in baking oil on the beach. Yes, you CAN still play multiplayer, each individual player controls one to two heroes depending on how many players there are. It just is harder to find games now, if you wanna play Dungeon of the Endless co-op you’re gonna have to do it with your closer goons. To sum it up each floor is gonna be dark, you’re going to wanna find the exit, illuminate the best path to it, build modules to defend the way, then have your fastest hero carry the crystal to the exit so you can all escape. Though be forewarned if you leave the floor without all the heroes at the exit, you leave whoever didn’t make it behind for dead.
Basically, it’s a simple risk vs reward mechanic, done well might I add. Each door you open could spawn a horde of enemies from all the dark nooks and crannies, but you get food/metal/science from your production modules for each new room you go in. The monsters are no joke either, they’ll start out with the weak ones and amp it up fast after a floor or two. The ones I dread the most are the rhino riders as I call them because they bust open doors to other rooms you don’t want to be opened yet and cause MORE monsters to come out as a result.
That’s all I can really say, compared to most Rogue-Likes Dungeon Of The Endless stands out a bit more for the fact it isn’t insufferably irritating with it. The RNG elements it brings along make me not mad, they make me hold my usual amount of slightly aroused contempt. I’m starting to realize with each passing year that indie games tend to go in phases. First, it was the survival crafting genre, then the rogue-like genre. Since then I think we’ve moved onto the adventurous story genre, that’s just my thoughts though.
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