Dungeon of the Endless has been developed by Amplitude Studios and originally released on Steam in 2014 – now though, it’s made its way to Xbox One. The best way to describe it is as a mix of various game genres and multiple gameplay types all rolled into one single game. In DotE, you will find elements of RPG, dungeon crawling, tower defense, rogue-like, and turn-based scenarios.
Your escape pod has crashed deep into an unknown planet and your objective is to make your way to the surface with your Pod Crystal. Something which is easier to say than exactly do.
You begin the game by selecting one of the six escape pods available and each of them has their own specifications, like the amount heroes you can start with. On the same menu, you will also select which heroes you want to be part of your crew again with numerous abilities and skills in place. When you first start the game the available options to choose from are limited. For instance from the initial six pods, only one is available whilst in the heroes department you will only have six available to choose from. Both the pods and the heroes are unlocked by playing the game; the pods by fulfilling the necessary requirements listed on each one, whilst with the heroes you will need to search for them while playing.
As I’ve mentioned the objective is to carry the Pod Crystal through the various floors until you reach the final one and manage to get out. To begin you will need to find the exit room, and in order to do so, will need to go off on a little adventure through the unknown maze of rooms. Since most of them are filled with monsters you won’t find it an easy task. If you manage to get lucky, you might find that instead of monsters the rooms will be filled with merchants, resources, items or artifacts. Occasionally, you’ll even stumble upon a plain old empty area.
One of the features presented in Dungeon of the Endless isn’t exactly new although it has mainly previously been seen in tower defense games. Auto-engaging the enemy means that you won’t need to worry about when to fight and when to attack, because both your heroes and attacking modules will automatically engage any adversaries that enter the room. Speaking of enemies, there are three main types. Those that will only focus their attacks on the Crystal, those that will firstly concentrate their attacks on the heroes, and finally those that will attack the modules, starting from the resources ones, before focusing their attention on the support prior to hitting the attack and defensive ones. Apart from being found in some rooms they tend to spawn in waves whenever you open a new door. Don’t get too relaxed if you wander into an empty room because the not so friendly dungeon habitants may appear at a moments notice, ready to destroy you and the Pod Crystal.
As I’ve mentioned, you can use modules to help you escape and reach the final floor. These can be divided into two main groups; the Major Modules which can only be built in the bigger slots in the rooms, and the Minor Modules which are obviously destined for the smaller ones. The Majors are divided into eight, with three of them used to generate the resources of the game; Food, Industry and Science. The other five are used as supportive modules that increase the heroes defenses, attacking power or add an extra boost to collect Dust – another game resource. The Minor Modules meanwhile are divided into three categories; the Support ones that heal your heroes or generate resources, the Offensive modules that will attack any enemy that enters the room where they are built and finally the Hindering modules that will affect the enemies performance by either slowing them down or reducing their attack power.
To build the various ones needed you will need resources, something which are automatically generated with each turn. The turns in Dungeon of the Endless work by opening doors, meaning each time you open a new door it will count as a move and generate resources. There are four resources in the game; Food that is used to heal, level up and recruit new heroes, Industry which is used to build the modules and Science, the one thing you need in order to upgrade and research new modules. The fourth resource is Dust and this is used to power up the room. All of these can be used as a trade currency with the Merchants.
So, it may all sound a bit confusing but things play out rather simply. The controls of Dungeon of the Endless are probably the easiest part to learn. To select a hero you just need to cycle through them with the Left and Right Bumpers, whilst moving your Hero towards a door or room and smashing the A button sends him or her through. The X Button is used to interact with objects and all of the extra characters that appear in the floors. The all important modules meanwhile are sorted by opening up the build menu with the Y button, cycling through until you are happy and making it appear in your chosen room. You can also use the Left Trigger to open up the overview of the map which is obviously more than helpful.
The visuals in Dungeon of the Endless are quite obviously a tribute to the best 90’s retro games and work brilliantly. In fact, if they were more “realistic”, I’m afraid the whole experience could be tarnished. The soundtrack is pretty stunning too, fitting perfectly into the game genre and is quite possibly the one thing that really sells Dungeon of the Endless to me.
Dungeon of the Endless also features a multiplayer mode, letting you either join or create your own multiplayer co-op game with up to four players. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test it due to the obvious fact that the game has not yet been released, but the multiplayer mode should basically work the same as that found with the single player experience. Teamwork will be key to your success mind.
Dungeon of the Endless relies on your knowledge of which modules to build and exactly where and when to build them. This is something that you will learn during your various attempts at beating the game, and multiple attempts will be required because it is almost impossible to beat the game on your first attempt. Unless of course you are extremely skilled. Part of its draw though is dying multiple times, learning a little bit extra each and every time.
If you are looking for an easy game then, unfortunately, Dungeon of the Endless isn’t going to be the one for you. If however you are looking for a challenge and something to put your skills to the limit then jump into Dungeon of the Endless as soon as you can and try to reach the surface.