Dungeon of the Endless promises RPG and tower defense gameplay in endless dungeons, with a true retro vibe about proceedings, is it old news, or a modern masterpiece.
Firstly your quest begins with the familiar backstory of your ship crash-landing on an unknown planet. You select two characters and head into the ship with a top-down view showing a single room, with your two characters beside a large crystal.
Heading into the help menu, and tutorial (hidden within the options) you’ll soon find out that you need to work your way through the ship with the crystal, but before you can pick it up, you’ll need to locate the exit.
Starting off with the exploration, you venture from room to room searching for the way forward slowly gaining food (to heal) Science (to unlock new structures) and dust….. yes Dust, to power the rooms and defend your crystal.
After a few rooms, you’ll struggle to contain the oncoming monsters, one or two you can combat, but as they become more plentiful you’ll be needing more than your two heroes, thankfully many rooms will contain nodes where you can place your defenses.
These will help take down the large hordes of monsters, but with limited resources, you’ll soon be managing the energy, to ensure you ave a range of defensive options across all rooms to the exit.
You can easily remove items, and relocate them, so the game isn’t too punishing for over-reinforcing a single room, however you’ll still want to use the minimum amount to defend while you explore until you know what route you’ll need to have a greater line of defense for when you’re transporting the crystal.
Using procedurally-generated layouts, you’ll find a fresh challenge each time you lay, though don’t expect it to be lacking a learning curve. Sure enough the first few games will be challenging, and quite infuriating as you find out things you’d expect to be told before you had even began.
However after these initial attempts, you’ll start to get more of a feel for the game, and learning to balance the exploration, management and defense.
Then after reinforcing your route, you’ll be able to rely on your defenses while you grab the crystal and carry it through to the elevator.
There’s certainly plenty going on as you traverse each level in pursuit of the exit, and graphically it’s kept very simple, colours are vivid, lines are sharp, but there’s little in the way of eye candy.
While graphics give an old fashioned style a nice modern twist, there’s the age old issue of scenery such as walls getting in the way and making it difficult to see some of the pods where your defenses are placed.
The sounds of the game follow suit, with little to complain about, sure I could knit-pick that it sometimes feels a little monotonous with the groan of incoming monsters, but there’s only so much variation you can expect, especially early on when there’s only limited enemy types.
We have to appreciate the merger of genres within Dungeon of the Endless. Exploration mixed with RPG has been done often enough but when you add the well-balanced tower-defense element, with resource management that feels crucial without being over challenging, you will fail, in just over 9 hours I did many times, not because of the misleading ‘too easy’ difficulty, but because of the attention it demands by ensuring your team is extinct if you take your eye off the ball for more than a few seconds.
There’s no question of it’s indie origins. Amplitude have created a real gem that feels fresh and exciting both in comparison with previous games, and past play-through’s.
You’ll want a good hour to get to grips with things, but once that’s out of the way, there’s a fantastic quality ‘exploration based dungeon crawler with a solid tower-defense foundation’.