After receiving a good reception when it was released originally on PC, Dungeon of the Endless is now finally making its way to Xbox One, after rumours it would be making the move since 2014. Blending together the genres of tower defence and dungeon crawler, the question is whether these endless dungeons provide you with hours of fun, or simply repetitive floors of fighting.
With no tutorial to speak of, the game throws you right in at the deep end and sometimes suffers for it. There is no introduction to the story, which is fairly non-existent anyway, and the game sees you start in a ship that is being attacked. From here, you can pick your “heroes” who you will journey through the endless dungeons with, and each has particular strengths and weaknesses. The original Escape Pod that you start with allows you to start with two heroes, and no specific bonuses during the game. Once you complete a game in the Escape Pod, you then unlock another pod, and so on, each giving you different bonuses to either help or hinder your journey. This means each time you play, the game can be slightly different, whether that be harder or easier, which helps keeps the game interesting and adds to the replayability factor.
Dungeon Of The Endless: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC
Developer: Amplitude Studios
Publisher: Amplitude Studios
Release Date: 16 March 2016
Price: £7.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Once you have chosen your pod and heroes, you can set the difficulty of the game. The fact that the two choices are easy and too easy, suggests that the game will pose you quite a challenge, and that thought would be generally correct. In 6/7 attempts at completing it, I only managed to do so twice and both of these were on the too easy difficulty. Equally, they could call it hard and too hard and I imagine, there would be little difference.
Once you are actually in the game, you have crashed your pod onto a planet and somehow plummeted 13 floors down into a building that, luckily, has a fully functioning elevator. Your job is to ascend all these floors, transporting a crystal with you, and to do this, you must go from room to room, searching for items, fellow heroes, equipment and, ultimately, the exit room. Each of the floors will have a different number of doors to open and subsequent rooms, which will no doubt keep you busy if you want to explore them all on every floor. A typical playthrough might take you 45minutes, which may seem short, but this feels like a perfect amount of time for the game to keep your interest without getting boring and repetitive.
As you open doors in the dungeon, you are given a certain amount of food, science and industry which can aid you in your journey. Industry can help you with building major and minor modules the various rooms, which can help you by attacking the enemy, buffing up your heroes, improving the amount of supplies you will get per room and many more. In order to survive, these modules are pretty much essential to build, so having enough industry to get you through the floors is important. Artifacts scattered about the rooms also allow you to upgrade these, from level 1 to level 4, improving their attack power or subsequent skill. In order to upgrade them, you’ll need a certain amount of science. Feeling like the least important item of the 3 to keep stocked up, science sole use seems to be upgrades. Food on the other hand is of much greater importance, as it allows you to heal your characters as well as level them up. Keeping track of all three of these is as important as keeping track of your characters, and can be the differenence between winning and losing a floor.
In between opening doors and keeping up your stock, there will be an enemy or two blocking your way. These can vary from everything to small cubes that do very little damage, to giant monsters that you will need a few of your heroes to take down together. These enemies can be hiding in unopened rooms, or can simply appear in waves to try and take your heroes down. The characters will automatically fight any enemies they come into contact with, leaving you to use special abilities and simply make sure you are healing them so they don’t get overwhelmed. The fact that the characters fight for themselves means that you might actually spend a fair chunk of the game simply sat watching and hoping, whereas a little more interactive fighting controls might have been appreciated.
The game also struggles when a lot of enemies invade your screen, so expect some lag when facing large waves of enemies. The 8-bit graphical style suits the game surprisingly well, and still allows plenty of detail in the characters and the rooms themselves. Each room may look fairly similar to the last, and you might struggle to figure out which went where, but being able to light them up as you go definitely helps. The music is fairly unamazing, but serves as a pleasant soundtrack to your trek up the floors, and even speeds up and intensifies as you pick up your crystal and make a break for the exit. In terms of achievements, the game requires you to complete all the floors in each of the various pods, as well as unlocking various stickers, modules and heroes as you go. An interesting but challenging list means you will have to put in some hours in order to get this completion. The game also offers a multiplayer mode, but this seems to be online only and I could find no games in which to partake (and there was no way to do local co-op for this it seemed).
For a game with a very simple concept that basically revolves around opening doors, Dungeon of the Endless does a good job in keeping things interesting for the player. A multitude of heroes and pods to pick from means you can make the game easier or harder to suit your play style. You might find yourself a little lost sometimes, and the game doesn’t do you any favours in terms of hinting about special attacks, how to level your characters, etc, but instead leaves you to fend for yourself. Whilst frustrating at first, the more time you spend on this game, the more you will get the hang of it and the more it will undoubtedly grow on you. For fans of dungeon crawlers or especially tower defence, Dungeon of the Endless is easily recommendable. For others, it might take some getting used to but if you have the time, it is worth it.