Dungeon of the Endless, it has a simple objective. Find the exit on the floor, extract the crystal, repeat until the escape the dungeon. The game only has two difficulties, very easy and easy. So its easy right? Hardly! This is the one game you get to look stupid and tell your friends is too hard on the easy difficulty.
I don’t play game tutorials. So I’ve no idea how helpful that is. I like when a game explains its mechanics well to you through visual clues and actions. Does Dungeon of the Endless do that?
Well not really. But it was fun discovering them through natural means. Anyone who’s seen my Dark Souls article knows I enjoy making mistakes and learning from them. Self education is incredibly satisfying. Dungeon of the Endless was no different for me. Every time I lost a character (got to love that permadeath!) I learnt something new, everything I did by accident was an education and opened my eyes to new strategies. The mechanics of the game are a strange hybrid that work together really well. You have rogue-like, tower defense and tonnes of resource management.
In rogue-like games generally time and the bad guys only move when you do, so you can pause the action. In Dungeon of the Endless things are a little different. Time is kept via the opening of doors. So an ability cool down may be “3 Doors”. Upon opening those doors you can use your abilities again. However this means enemies need to work differently, they work in waves, just like a tower defense game.
Interestingly, and something I only learnt several hours into the game is that you can control where these guys spawn. If you power up a room, or leave someone in it, essentially giving you line of site in the room nothing spawns there. This makes one of your resources; dust incredible vital. Its a greater survival tool in my opinion then food which is used to healing.
You have 4 essential resources to manage in the game, and you’ll certainly feel a shortfall in them. You can Industry, science, food, and as mentioned above dust.
Industry is used to build modules, both minor and major. Major modules include generators which can improve the amount of a resource you get. Minor modules can range from turrets to static buffs for your character/s.
Science is used to research upgrades to various modules, however science is also used to rush the cool down of what can sometimes be an essential active skill of a characters.
Food, ah food, you can never have too much. Its used to level up, but also used to heal you as well.
Dust is used to power rooms, you need 10 to power a new room. Rooms need power to operate modules and to stop mobs spawning.
On top of that merchants trade with you for specific resources. So as you can guess, deciding where and how best to use your resources can be a challenge. If you level up maybe you can’t heal in the next wave, if you buy that new armour that is one less room you can power. Theirs an element of luck to the game as the floors are procedurally generated. You’re forced to work with what you’re given and make the best of it. You never know what will behind that next door you open.
I love the art in the game. I’m a sucker for pixel art games. Maybe its nostalgia for me as when I started gaming every game was little pixels and sprites, but the look has certainly made a come back over the years. These games rely more on solid mechanics then AAA game graphics. Who cares about ambient occlusion and great lighting in a game if the fundamentals, your core game mechanics are all wrong? I really do think the big guys need to look at a lot of these smaller developers and get back to basics. I’m not going to go into a rant now about graphics in games, but there seems to be a trend these days where games are judged on the visuals before the game play. Maybe I’ll write something about it.
Regardless, back on topic Dungeon of the Endless is a very pretty game, and well presented. All the information you need is too hand. Look at how well presented it is! Nice clear UI, vibrant colours. Lets you focus on what matters without insulting your eyes.
I’ve read a fair bit on the lore of the game, but most of my experience so far has been in multiplayer so I’ve not really seen much lore in the game yet. I will however be looking into that as I delve into single player (I want to unlock more characters dammit!)
However on the multiplayer! It works really well to be honest. Each of you controls a character up to a maximum of 4. If you have less then 4 players then no problem. You can recruit other characters in game and you can control more then one at a time, which is easier then it sounds at first. I enjoy the multiplayer, most time is spent discussing strategy, switching out resources to be used to the best effect, and watching your friends get slaughtered by a wave as you run away due to running out of food. Its a great laugh, but also gutting when you’ve climbed several floors only to die.
However the game doesn’t end. You become a spectator, and if your friends can recruit a new character they can allocate you control. Even if not you’re not out of the game. You still see everything they see and do, so you can remain involved in the strategy of the game.
The game is only £8.99 on steam and its definitely worth it in my opinion. My only niggle with the game so far seems to be around balance. The game feels like it actively punishes you for doing well, making it difficult to push any advantage you may have. Also I’m not sure leveling your character high has any real benefit due to the effectiveness or minor modules. Yet I’ve still plenty to explore in the game, so either those things will become more prominent to me or maybe I’ll find that balance.
Still, I recommend you pick it up. 10/10 would open doors again.
(Please ignore that arbitrary number, I don’t actually rate games using numbers, its meant to be humorous!)