Review – Dungeon of the Endless (Switch)

I’m always a fan of established developers trying something new. Especially for strategy game teams, where it’s easy to fall into the Paradox trap where every game becomes variations of the same idea. Not only does that get monotonous for the player, but the developers get bored too. Bored developers don’t make great games, just look at Total War pre-Warhammer. Still there’s a difference between trying something new and doing what Amplitude Studios did with Dungeon of the Endless. Instead of making just another rogue-like, Amplitude blended together several genres into something legitimately unique.

Combat

I found navigating the UI and map to be so much more convenient with a controller versus mouse and keyboard. Everything you need is just a button away.

A prequel to their other Endless titles, Dungeon of the Endless begins with a prisoner transport being shot down over the planet Auriga. Using escape pods, prisoners and guards alike escaped the doomed starship for the presumed safety of the planet below. After landing however, they discovered that the planet was hiding an extensive laboratory underground which their pods had crashed to the very bottom of. Leading a team of one to four characters, your goal is to make your way to the surface and uncover the mysteries of Auriga. Though there is a bit more lore and story for veteran Endless players, overall that’s the extent of the plot. It’s just not that kind of game.

Overview

Dungeon of the Endless levels look simple, but during gameplay rarely feel like it.

Dungeon of the Endless has three main gameplay loops which manage to work in beautiful tandem. Firstly there’s the dungeon crawling. You control a party of two to four characters moving from room to room searching for the next level. A change-up from the standard dungeon crawler formula is the movement and combat. Instead of standard micromanaged control, you simply choose a door to open or a room to move to and your party will take care of it. Any enemies in the same room as the party are automatically attacked, similar to RTS’s. Overall this makes controlling the party fast and easy, leaving you open to focus on the other aspects of gameplay.

Research

While exploring you will come across Endless research stations where you can upgrade your modules or acquire new ones.

Alongside dungeon crawling are the tower defense mechanics. Your overarching goal of each level is to protect your power crystal and eventually escort it to the next level. As you move throughout the dungeon, each room has a chance of spawning with construction modules. There’s major modules where you can construct resource generators, or minor modules where you can place combat ones. Before you can construct anything however, the room has to be powered using the Endless universe’s Dust resource. You only have limited Dust however, so deciding which rooms to power is critical. Powered rooms also do not spawn enemies when a new door is opened, which can further inform your decision.

banter

At the end of each level your surviving characters will have some quick light banter. It’s not much, but a nice touch all the same.

Finally there’s the RPG mechanics, which are quite well done. At the start of every run, you choose your escape pod and party. Each escape pod comes with a variety of gameplay modifiers, from larger parties to higher difficulties. Each character comes with unique attributes and skills, and either a ranged or melee attack. As you play the game, you’ll slowly build up your food resources. This is used to level-up your characters, with higher levels requiring more food. Higher levels don’t just increase your stats, but also improves skills and occasionally grants new ones. You will also come across equipment, either as enemy drops or bought from merchants using food. This can then be equipped to one of your character’s three equipment slots.

Character

As standard for rogue-likes, each run will slowly unlock new pods and characters for. Perhaps a tad too slowly in this case.

Basically, you have to manage your resources, construct defenses to protect your crystal, power rooms to limit enemy spawns, while also pushing forward with your party to find the exit. It sounds like a lot to keep track of, but it’s presented so cleanly that it’s easy to get the hang of quickly. There’s also plenty of depth, which makes it very replayable. Overall though, what kept me coming back to Dungeon of the Endless was the way every run felt like a different puzzle to be solved. Though each level started to look the same, the wide variety of room types and layouts available meant that it never felt the same. If you’re a rogue-like fan desperate for something new, this is exactly the game you’ve been waiting for.

 

Graphics: 7.0

It’s pixel art done well, but hardly a stand-out. Environments also get repetitive quite quickly.

Gameplay: 8.0

Dungeon of the Endless does everything it attempts well. RPG mechanics feel complete, tower-defense gameplay varied, and dungeon crawling exciting.

Sound: 8.5

The soundtrack is very atmospheric and sound effects are clear and crisp.

Fun Factor: 8.0

This is the perfect game for when you want something with a little bit of everything.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Dungeon of the Endless is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Dungeon of the Endless was provided by the publisher.

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