Endless Dungeon is a fun mix of a roguelike dungeon crawler, and a complex tower defense game.
The first time I experienced Amplitude Studios' Endless Dungeon, I was sat with other journalists in a closed booth at gamescom. We were playing a multi-player game together, while each one of us tried to understand what Endless Dungeon was about. We succeeded at just one of these things, as we failed miserably on the first floor of the game. But I was hooked and as such, looking forward to the full game's release in October.
With the game now out, here's my chance to put it in the spotlight and offer up my thoughts on it.
Endless Dungeon is a mix between a strategic tower defence and a roguelike dungeon crawler. A lot is going on in a typical round of the game, and it'll take a while to master the mechanics fully.
The goal of every game is to protect a crystal while advancing your characters (you can have multiple teammates with different skill sets per game) through the procedurally generated (although very beautiful) space station to find the exit. You get to the exit by opening doors to new rooms, with more doors leading to more rooms. Yes, it's a maze.
In every room, you'll find chests, new skills, enemies (four different types, each with strengths and weaknesses), or enemy spawn points. Every door you open also grants you resources (Science, Industry, and Food – more about them later). This is the dungeon crawler part of the game. Also, the game is a twin-stick shooter and feels perfectly at home on a Steam Deck or any other handheld device. (I played much of it these last few days on the OLED Steam Deck.)
Every door you open heightens the risk of an enemy wave — a horde which will try to attack and destroy the crystal, ending your game. To defend the crystal from these attacks, you can build turrets with different purposes in every room you unlock. Some will shoot at enemies on sight, others will slow their movement speed, while others protect your turrets and character from damage. There are more in the game, but I have yet to unlock them all. This is, in turn, the tower defence game.
As you unlock rooms and resources and find those enemy spawn points mentioned above, you'll learn what path the enemies will take whenever you trigger a wave. The difficulty lies in figuring out where you want to position what turret along that path in order to be best effective. You also need to balance your resources, Science, Industry, and Food, as each one of them does something different:
- Science lets you use research consoles that you find in different rooms to develop new technology, like new turrets.
- Industry allows you to place those turrets and build generators that award you more resources whenever you pass through doors.
- And Food heals your team and grants you performance upgrades.
If you build a lot of turrets without planning, you'll quickly run out of Industry and then get overwhelmed the next time a wave randomly triggers and you forgot to place defensive measures along one of the enemy's paths.
To win the game, you need to find the exit and tell your crystal sitting on top of a spider bot to come and unlock that exit, which will trigger endless waves of enemies. Either your bot gets to the last door and opens it, which takes time, or the enemy waves overwhelm you by destroying the spider-bot thing or killing all your characters.
After every round of Endless Dungeon, you'll find yourself in a bar — where you can talk to (and unlock) other characters, learn new skills, discover new paths, or listen to the local band playing music.
Every character in the game has its own little story, making them into loveable personalities, especially Cartie. Cartie is the best!
I enjoy Endless Dungeon. Over time, every game climbs up in difficulty, sometimes slowly, sometimes drastically, making every run a new experience. As you progress through the game, you'll unlock new characters, skills, and tech, mixing up the playthroughs even more.
This keeps the game fresh by offering you something new or changing the experience enough so you can never use the same strategy twice.
Though one of the critique points I saw online is that after a while, the game becomes too repetitive. This is why I think a game like Endless Dungeon is perfect for something like the Steam Deck, as the grab-and-go aspect of a handheld suits this game immensely.
Steam Deck Playable
Thanks to the efforts of Amplitude Studios, Endless Dungeon is a great game — it successfully blends two much-loved genres together into a unique, fun, and rewarding game with beautiful levels, an intriguing cast, and enough replayability for near-endless (pun intended) hours of fun.
You can buy Endless Dungeon now on the Steam Store for $24.99. It's marked as 'Steam Deck Playable', as some in-game text may be small and difficult to read, but it still looks fantastic on that OLED screen.