Coming almost a decade after Dungeon of the Endless, Endless Dungeon really expands on the series’ lore and gameplay.
The successor to the roguelike tower defence game adds twin-stick shooting and multiplayer to the mix to create an action game with a lot to think about.
Recently, I visited Amplitude Studios in Paris to try the game out for a couple of hours and learn how the huge mix of ideas fits together.
An overwhelming number of ideas
The official description of the game is a “rougelike tactical action game. A top-down twin-stick shooter with a twist of tower defence,” so it’s not really a surprise that I found it pretty overwhelming. It may have been the structure of the preview, but I couldn’t get to grips with some of Endless Dungeon’s mechanics.
As a twin-stick shooter roguelike, it’s fun. Each of the game’s vastly different districts looks great and the rooms are interestingly designed to add a tactical element to which doors you open. Opening multiple to one room allows enemies to come through both, whereas just opening one funnels them to one place, making them easier to defeat. It’s a cool part of the level design that forces you to think about the pros and cons of exploration.
On top of that though, you have tower defence to think about, three resources to manage, and the location of your crystal to keep track of. You progress in Endless Dungeon by moving your crystal closer to the centre of the core on each run.
The three resources you need to manage are Science for unlocking new turrets, Industry for building turrets, and Food for buying medkits and upgrades. You share them as a team in multiplayer and will encounter generators periodically throughout a run to give you a chance to get more of a particular resource.
After a few hours, though, I still didn’t really have an understanding of which resource was the most important for each circumstance. We kept going after Industry to build turrets, in the hope that we simply wouldn’t need medkits, but I wasn’t entirely sure why.
There’s just so much to think about in any one level that it felt really overwhelming, to the point I didn’t fully understand why some of the elements were important or what my team should be focusing on.
I think that was somewhat a result of being part of a team with one member who knew the game inside out, while two of us were completely new to everything. I felt like I was being dragged through the levels, with the game not teaching me about all the mechanics in a manageable way.
Playing solo may be the best way to start, allowing you to gradually learn each of Endless Dungeon’s mechanics at your own pace. Maybe you could spend one run really getting to grips with the tactical side of turret placement, and when to use attack options or those that do things like slow enemies down as they get close to your crystal.
Of course, getting to grips with everything and progressing further in each run is the point of a roguelike, I just felt like Endless Dungeon threw too much at me at once without allowing me to fully get to grips with a lot of it.
Still a fun twin-stick shooter
Some of the individual elements are impressive, though. As a twin-stick shooter, Endless Dungeon is great. Each of four ‘families’ of enemies has different weaknesses and resistances, so you have to think closely about which heroes you choose and which elemental weapons you focus on using.
Robots, which call one of the districts home, are weak to electricity, so you need to focus on those weapons, without ignoring the fact that you may still need others later on in a run. While team composition isn’t too important when it comes to choosing heroes, you do need to think tactically about how you approach an area’s threat and how best to use each of the characters’ abilities.
Something that’s vital for a twin-stick shooter too, the combat is satisfying, even if it’s overwhelming once you add in the tower defence aspects.
You don’t just encounter enemies as you open doors to new rooms, either. Enemies attack in waves, with you needing to prepare ahead of them starting. However, waves seem to start both at random intervals and can be triggered by interacting with certain objects and doors, so sometimes they come out of nowhere.
Cool hero design
The heroes are all well-designed too. You have healers, DPS heroes, and support characters, each with their own unique ultimates and weapon preferences. I’m sure players will start to find their favourite after a few runs, even if you’re persuaded to switch it up as you visit different districts.
I played mostly as a hero called Blaze, who uses explosives as part of their arsenal, which was a fun addition to the standard weapons you pick up and use.
After a couple of hours playing multiplayer, my main takeaway from Endless Dungeon was just how overwhelming it is. Trying to weave so many key core elements together makes it hard to really get to grips with any of them. It may be a lot more manageable if you play alone or spend a lot longer using runs to really learn all the mechanics, I’m just not sure how many players will have the patience needed to reach the level of understanding needed.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Features and Endless Dungeon page.