I love tower defense games. I also love dungeon crawlers. Of course, I love roguelikes too. That’s why, on paper at least, Endless Dungeon seems like a game right up my alley.
It combines elements of all the genres I mentioned above, with a cool sci-fi aesthetic and likeable characters. On top of that it has guns! Who doesn’t love guns?!
Why then aren’t I loving the game?
What is Endless Dungeon?
Endless Dungeon is a isometric single or multiplayer tower defense, dungeon crawling roguelike. It is developed by AMPLITUDE Studios and published by SEGA. It is available right now on every modern platform.
Our copy was provided by the awesome folks at SEGA. Thank you so much!
Endless Dungeon is the successor to Dungeon of the Endless, a top down 2D game with many of the same mechanics of Endless Dungeon. It’s a tried and true formula that worked for Dungeon of the Endless when it came out in 2014.
Unfortunately, it’s now 2023. What worked in the past, doesn’t necessarily work now.
Endless Dungeon is best played in multiplayer, though if you’re short of friends, you can have 2 other AI accompany you. You can’t really command them, but you can give them basic orders like staying in place or to group up with you.
Unfortunately, the characters aren’t as unique as you’d expect, despite there being only 8 of them. All of them share the same weapon types (heavy weapons, shotguns, blasters, rifles and the like), which makes them feel a bit interchangeable, despite having different skillsets.
Cartie (my personal favourite) uses an awesome gatling cannon, as her default weapon. Even though I find different heavy weapons in the runs, I never really enjoy the other weapons as much as the cannon. That’s the main issue with the game; the weapons aren’t really fun to play with.
The heavy weapons are fine, but the pistols and shotguns I found boring. They don’t have the pizzazz or cool factor like the rail gun to get me pumped.
Apart from the weapons you start with, you can also find new ones in the dungeon. These are lost upon death, though you can upgrade them in the cantina, so that when you do find them again, they’re stronger.
That said, there’s not a lot of variety to them (the loot might be random, but the weapons all will spawn with the same stats) and you never really feel like you’re powered up when you find a new gun. That also applies to character progression, since it too resets when you die.
As a result, you feel stagnant. Every run feels like you’re back at the bottom, despite improvements to weapons or other perks you’ve unlocked.
To be fair, Endless Dungeon isn’t just a slapdash sequel.
It actually enhances what made Dungeon of the Endless good and remixes it into a slicker package.
It’s just unfortunate that the game is middling.
The core gameplay loop involves exploring the randomly generated dungeons. Each room you access nets your resources, which you can then use to upgrade your heroes, build defenses or even buy new upgrades. Certain rooms also allow you to construct generators that boost resource gains.
The main thing you’re doing will be to guide and protect a robot with a giant crystal embedded in it.
If it dies, you die and have to restart the run. The crystal robot is mobile, and you’ll regularly need to move it to nodes (where the crystal robot can plug in and opens up more areas for you to progress). To liven things up, every time the robot is not plugged into a node, enemies will swarm endlessly until it does.
Here’s where the game is gets good. Protecting the robot as it slowly crawls to the node you’re directing it to is insanely fun. Droves of enemies will just swarm in and it’s up to you and your allies to use everything you have to hold the line.
Remember the scene in Starship Troopers where the Arachnids are swarming the base while the infantry tries to hold them off? It’s like that. Smartly, the developers even made it so that you can teleport back to the robot from anywhere in the dungeon. That means you can go off galivanting while your allies (or AI) guard the robot and only go back when you’re needed.
However, generators you’ve constructed cannot be teleported to.
This brings in another wrench to the works. Do you protect your main lifeline, or extend yourself (or your crew) and protect a resource generator? I mostly just abandon everything once the swarm comes for the bot, but that’s just me.
It’s also because I’m severely limited playing solo.
You can’t order your AI allies around. You can just tell them to stay put at a location (and they’ll automatically engage enemies) or follow you. That’s it. I’d have expected a more robust command system but nope, you only get those limited commands…which is fine most of the time admittedly, but still severely constricting.
On top of that, opening doors one by one to find out the right path to progress gets really boring. The rooms all start to blend together after a while. There’s nothing really exciting at all about the exploration in the game, and I honestly found myself getting bored because the rooms you encounter don’t really stand out.
All too often, progress is gated by a barrier, which you need to find a pyramid looking thing in one of the rooms to turn off or a node which you’ll need the crystal robot to unlock. It’s repetitive and backtracking is pretty much a given.
Except for the humongous bosses (which pop in at the end of stages), the game’s regular enemies aren’t really that interesting. They’re great cannon fodder, but the regular enemies don’t stand out much. They’re pretty much there just to die, and I never found myself admiring the enemy design aesthetics.
Despite the average gameplay, the music in the game is top notch. I absolutely adore the melancholic tunes for the stages. It’s the high point of the game for me. They really remind me of the Alien Trilogy intro tune, except all of them are awesome.
I also love the lighting effects in the game. They really come into life in the darkened areas of the space station and its really cool watching Cartie’s tracer rounds from her cannon in the dark. There’s not a lot of visually impressive design in the game (as I mentioned, the rooms are bland) honestly.
The Bottom Line.
With friends, Endless Dungeon can be fun. Interacting with one another and coordinating actions livens things up a lot.
Unfortunately, when you’re playing solo, it’s not as lively. The exploration is boring, the gameplay is repetitive and there’s nothing much to do other than open doors to the next room, hoping it’s the right one.
Endless Dungeon isn’t bad per se as it’s filled with solid gameplay design. Solid it might be though, that doesn’t mean that they translate into fun.
Fun with friends, skip if you’re playing solo.
- Heavy weapons are fun to use.
- Lots of things to shoot at.
- Boring exploration.
- Bland visuals.