Login


Forgot password?

Registration

Password reset

Please enter your e-mail address and new password.

Dungeon Of The Endless

Avatar
By Bobfish29-08-2015
Dungeon Of The Endless

The Defence

Developer:
Amplitude Studios
Publisher:
Amplitude Studios
Genre:
Adventure, Indie, Strategy
Release Date:
27-10-2021

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core i5 3.3 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 560
AMD equivalent
RAM:
4 GB
HDD:
700 MB
DirectX:
9.0c

The Case

What do you get? When you cross a hard as balls Roguelike with a pixelart aesthetic and an almost cloying degree of self-aware disambiguation of an entire genre? Probably me scaring you away, because that sounds like some really messed up shizz. Or so hideously pretentious that you want to headbutt yourself in your own arse so hard your head comes back out of your mouth. Funny that, because that’s what the game is probably going to do to you too.

The Trial

Okay, for those who don’t know (which is no-one) Roguelikes are bloody ‘ard games. And this is no exception. Which is kinda’ annoying, because it torments you with two difficulty settings. The default “Easy” which will murder you in the face without even a first glance, nevermind a second. And Very Easy, which is, actually, pretty easy. But makes you feel all icky for not being tough enough to handle it. Which I wasn’t, so shh.

Essentially, the game consists of taking your squad of 2-4 heroes and their all important power crystal, and trying to make it to the surface. You do this by making your way through the floor until you find the exit, powering up rooms as you go along. Because if you don’t, monsters can spawn in them. I guess they’re all Mogwais and don’t like bright lights or something. But it’s not quite that simple, because you can only power up rooms that have a straight run of powered rooms between it and your crystal. The only other way to stop monsters spawning in a room is by having one of your squad in there. And yes, this will lead to you having your team spread out in later levels.

Suck it up pansy.

Suck it up pansy.

Squad size is dependent on the crash pod you choose to begin your adventure in, though there is only one at first, with the others unlocked by completing some ludicrously obtuse challenge, or finishing the game with the one before it. As well as affecting how many you heroes you can take with you, they also offer other advantages and disadvantages. Such as the med bay giving a huge amount of health, but no auto healing. The armoury grants weapons but won’t allow you to meet new heroes along the way. That kind of thing.

The heroes themselves are also, initially, limited. With more being unlocked by meeting them within a dungeon, adding them to your team and keeping them alive for at least three floors. Which is no mean feat, let me assure you, even on Very Easy. For the most part, heroes are not hugely different when you really come down to it. With their character design and small backstory being the main things that tell one from another. But there are some smaller elements that distinguish them as well. Their various skills being the most notable, as some can heal, others can slow enemies, and some can procure more Dust, which is a precious resource I will expound more on momentarily.

Beyond these factors, the equipment they can use also varies. With some having now weapon slot, some being ranged, others melee and the like. But the miniscule tidbits of ‘plot’ we get do very little to give us any feel for who they really are. Aside from a few ‘story’ conversations such as between Nurse Deena and the ‘Warden’, the only moments of character we see are when opening doors. Deena, for example, shouts every time she opens one, often to tell everyone else to be quiet. On the surface, this makes them seem a bit lifeless, but actually works well in the setting. It really helps build a sense of being a band of strangers thrown together by circumstance and nothing else. These are not your friends, and will not be. They just happen to be there in the same predicament. And y’all are working together to survive. Getting to know each other’s life stories is irrelevant.

Seems safe to me.

Seems safe to me.

Gameplay itself consists of moving from one room, to the next, in search of the floor’s exit, with each floor being randomly generated. It all really comes down to luck whether you find the exit straight away, or are floundering around in the dark forever. With each new door opened adding to the likelihood of your biting off more than you can chew and ending up dead, but also adding to your resources and, possibly, putting you in a better position to face the dangers ahead.

Each door you open, you see, adds to your three primary resources, Food, Industry and Science, and if you’re lucky, will give up some dust. The first three can be affected by the player directly. With Industry being arguably the most useful, as this allows you to build various devices which can increase your accrued amounts (such as Food Replicators for more food, Industry Generators for more Industry and Science Creators for more Science) as well as other items that can damage enemies, slow them down, or even power a room so that enemies cannot spawn in it.

Food, meanwhile, is primarily used for keeping your heroes alive and levelling them up. With the amounts required for the latter increasing significantly as they reach higher levels, meaning it’s good to try and get them as soon as possible. So that you’ll be able to spam more of it away in combat, to heal, on the higher floors. Food can also be used to recruit new heroes, again with the amount being higher depending on their level.

Well thank the Gods for small mercies!

Well thank the Gods for small mercies!

Science, meanwhile, is primarily used to research new items. Be they better versions of the devices you already have (Industry Generator 3 for example) or entirely new ones like a shop, healing pods and so on. A procedure which first requires finding a research station, then moving through a set number of rooms (usually three) before research is finished. Assuming the station is not destroyed by monsters in the process. But Science can also be used to immediately refresh a heroes abilities, which can be an absolute Godsend in later levels.

The last, and by far most important of them all, is Dust. Which is essentially your batteries. Each room takes ten dust to power. And Dust is increasingly hard to come by as you progress. Which is why Backup Generators, which are hideously expensive (high Industry) to build, are so essential in late game. Dust is built up entirely based on pot luck. With the only way to get any being by finding it when searching a room, in some devices you’ll sporadically find scattered about, and by killing enemies. There are some characters with an ability to increase the likelihood of earning some from kills, but that’s by no means a dead cert.

One last thing, however. All four resources can also be used as currency when finding a shopkeeper. However, you have no say over which the shopkeeper will accept. Though if you research the Shop, each time you build one, any discovered shopkeeper on that floor will be teleported to it and Dust will be generated when trading with him. Or at least, that’s what the description said, but it never seemed to work for me.

You need to clean up your act son.

You need to clean up your act son.

On the surface, Dungeon sounds really complicated. And it actually is quite a deep game, mechanically speaking. But it’s a very intuitive system that takes only a little practice to familiarise yourself with. Of course, being a Rougelike, it takes a hell of a lot more time to master. But considering how much content exists with all the new pods and heroes to unlock, there’s plenty to keep you going. And though having to start all over again can be a bit annoying, the roughly 45 minute playtime for dungeon completion makes it pretty easy to pick up and dive straight back in. My only, real, complaint is that no matter what you do, your Dust is reset at the end of each floor.

It would be nice if you could unpower all the rooms and make a mad dash for the exist, but get to keep all your Dust. Because let me tell you, slogging your way through that many rooms, at a snail’s crawl, with monsters spawning all over the place, is not an easy feat even in the early levels. But ahh well, such is life.

The Verdict

Simply put, there’s a lot to like here folks. Amplitude have pretty much stripped this down to being a purely game based game. There are some tidbits of background information you can glean during elevators between levels, but the majority of it is idle chatter, and even the odd in joke. With one character lamenting the lack of exposition in quiet sections. Losing your team, right near the end, can be soul destroying, it’s a relatively straight forward task to get a new one up there, and each run is short enough that it feels like a perfect time waster game, rather than a waste of time. Whilst the sheer volume of extra content and the procedural nature of the levels adds a massive amount of replayability.

Case Review

  • Art Style: It’s surprisingly bright, colourful and cheery. Makes a nice change.
  • Depth: Simple mechanics with a lot of nuance under the hud.
  • Length: Each run is long enough to feel fulfilling, without dragging on to the point that it feels like a chore to start over.
  • Quirky: Sparse dialogue pokes fun at itself and the genre as a whole.
  • Random: There’s no guarantee you’ll find the extra heroes, weapons and so on that you want. Which can make the game a lot more challenging at times.
  • Dust: Being completely unable to carry over from one level to the next is frustrating, but an inevitability of the game.
4
Score: 4/5
A fun game with a huge amount of replay value.

Appeal

It’s a little hard to categorize a game like Dungeon Of The Endless. It has some dungeon-crawling and roguelike elements going on, there’s some tower defense in there, it’s turn based and has resource management. But it’s not really fully any of these; it isn’t a roguelike game (though permadeath plays a big part), it isn’t a tower defense game and it isn’t completely a dungeon crawler either. Instead, it fuses a lot of these elements successfully into a game that’s a little hard to describe, but easy enough to get into and play once you learn the ropes. And then, of course, you die. And then you die again. And again, and again, and again.

In essence, what you’re meant to do is use your crew of up to four characters to carry a crystal from the starting location of each map, to the end-point (an elevator) that you discover as you explore the various types of rooms and corridors you come across. Along the way you’ll encounter various enemies as well as merchants and items that’ll help you on your quest. Once you reach the elevator with the crystal, you move one floor up, and repeat the process until you’ve cleared all the floors and reach the surface. Simple, right? Sure - but easy? Hell no. As you discover and clear a room of baddies, you’re given the option to allocate some of your generator power to light the room up. Doing so allows you to use the room’s special contraption, while preventing enemies from spawning in the room when you leave it. But you’ll never have enough juice to light up every room on a floor, so the way you prioritize is important. It’s only once you find the elevator that you’re able to pick the crystal up. And once that happens, the game ceases to work in turn-based order, instead starts throwing enemies at you constantly in real-time until you’ve gotten to the elevator and activated it. Depending on which character you’ve chosen to carry the crystal, which rooms you’ve lit up and where you place the rest of your crewmates to help fend off the hordes of monsters, you’ll either reach the next floor or die horribly and be forced to start all over again.

Dungeon Of The Endless is, despite its Frankenstein-premise, nothing short of a triumph. Despite all the mechanics that could’ve ended up ruining each other, the end result runs much more smoothly than you might expect. With the randomly generated levels all the new characters and abilities you unlock as you play, there’s a near infinite amount of replayability on offer. There are some minor niggles, like how you can’t kick off a crewmember to replace it with another that you find along the way, other than feeding said crewmember to the monster hordes. And is it just me or is “pixel-art” becoming increasingly more synonymous with “designers were too lazy to make up their own art style”? And that is, of course, beside the fact that you might not even enjoy the game that Dungeon tries to sell to begin with. If you can’t stand the stressful, challenging and often unfair nature of modern rogue-lites like FTL and Risk Of Rain then this isn’t the game for you. But for what it is and what it does, this latest iteration in Amplitude Studios’ Endless series is nothing to scoff at. It’s a solid piece of work, and well worth your money if you’re hungering for more pixelated permadeath shenanigans.

4
Score: 4/5
Comments (0)
You must be to post a comment.
No comments!