Endless Dungeon Review
Endless Dungeon Review
Endless Dungeon is an intriguing prospect from SEGA and Amplitude Studios. Fusing interesting systems together, the game presents players with a twin-stick shooter that features roguelite and tower defense elements that, while weird to look at on paper, somehow work.
Thinking of similar titles, you would expect procedurally generated dungeons, random rewards, tough enemies, slow but steady progression, and so on. The first title that comes to mind is Hades, and while similar in some aspects, Endless Dungeon surprises with twists and turns that players won’t come to expect.
Endless Dungeon puts players in control of one out of the 8 playable characters in the game, each with different specialties, abilities, and roles to play on the team. Sweeper specializes in handguns and is a terrific support character but deals low damage compared to Zed, a heavy gun user who can equip large rifles and clear rooms with ease. Choosing the right combination when playing solo or with a team will surely spell victory or defeat.
The aim of the game is simple – lead the Crystal Bot to its destination. Everything in between is where the game spreads its wings in ways that I would have never expected.
Each room you open up in Endless Dungeon will provide you with resources that are divided into 3 categories that benefit you in many ways. Science can be used at research terminals to unlock new turrets and upgrade the ones you already have, Industry allows you to actually build turrets across specifically placed nodes on the map, and Food lets players purchase medkits and hero upgrades.
As you progress through the map, you’ll come across terminals that will let you choose which resource to upgrade, allowing you to get more of that resource per room that you open. If you were getting 5 of each resource and you upgrade Science, you’ll get 10 Science the next time around while the other two resources will still yield 5. As you can imagine, there’s a balance that players will have to figure out as they proceed through the map, getting a feel of what they need as they come across enemies.
Enemies in Endless Dungeon come from spawn points littered throughout the map and will have certain properties to them. Some will be weak to electricity, light, acid, and fire. Opening rooms and doors can also trigger waves, so proceed with caution. These critters will appear in waves, so you’ll definitely know when things are about to go down!
Endless Dungeon’s gameplay loop will see players open up the map by unlocking rooms, accumulating resources for building turrets and upgrades, and taking note of spawn points. Once they have explored enough and have found the exit, all of the choices you have made up to this point will matter because you can now choose to activate the Crystal Bot as it walks ever so slowly toward the exit. You guessed it, the waves of enemies will be out to hunt the Bot and will do anything to stop it from reaching the exit.
Planning where to place turrets, what resources to get more of, and even your weapon choices will matter as you escort the Crystal Bot to the exit. When playing solo, players can choose to order other members of the party, even the Crystal Bot, to stop and maintain their position while getting a breather, but the faster you make your way to the exit, the better.
As you can imagine, Endless Dungeon is not your usual roguelite title. There’s an increased emphasis on planning and resource management compared to other similar titles while keeping things fun and frantic at the same time. The gameplay loop is not too complicated to understand, and players will get familiar with the loop and the meta progression in just a couple of rooms.
Speaking of meta progression, Endless Dungeon features the same systems as other roguelite titles such as gathering a currency (Cells and Scraps, in this case) that players can use to purchase upgrades over at the Saloon, your base of operations. Upgrades further specialize your characters, making them more effective at their intended purpose.
While all of these elements conspire to create a loop that’s simple, fun, and inventive, there are a few issues that I encountered during my time with the game. First of which is enemy AI, as they are not the smartest and mostly just walk in a straight line until they make their way to you. The waves are meant to overwhelm rather than provide players with a strategic challenge, and you can pretty much set up your defense by standing at certain angles wherein the enemy waves simply funnel their way to your bullets.
As a fan of tower defense games, one of the more satisfying feelings I get is when I watch my masterfully crafted towers shred enemies through loops and zig zags that whittle them down slowly. None of that is present here because towers can only be placed on specific tiles and since you are constantly escorting the Crystal Bot, you’ll almost never see your towers work their magic on the enemies. Left unchecked, the enemy waves can even wreck your towers, which means that the waves that approach you will arrive at full health. You can always choose to repair them and upgrade them, but that means backtracking all the way to where you placed them.
Thankfully, there’s a great variety of towers in Endless Dungeon. Despite not being able to see most of them depending on what players will choose to upgrade or unlock during their run, they are helpful and really serve a purpose. Like weapons, these turrets also have elemental properties and are not limited to offensive options, with some providing healing and support capabilities that are a welcome sight when things get rough.
While competent enough to play solo, Endless Dungeon shines as a multiplayer affair. It feels like some of its elements are better when playing with others since protecting the Crystal Bot is better defended when each player does their thing, something that cannot be done when playing alone.
Some tower defense elements also suffer when playing solo, as you’ll have to backtrack a lot to upgrade or repair them so they can better handle the harder waves. It would have been great
What we liked:
- Fun and inventive mix of genre elements
- Easy to understand progression
- Appealing art style
What we didn’t like:
- AI feels too easy
- Relatively weak tower defense aspect
- Some tedious backtracking to repair and upgrade towers
- So-so story
Verdict: Wait for it…
Endless Dungeon is a surprisingly competent title that mixes a number of elements for a refreshing take on a roguelite. There are sprinkles of tower defense mixed up with an isometric twin-stick shooter that does the job for those who are looking for an eclectic mix.
Sadly, the sum of Endless Dungeon’s weaker elements weighs more than the stronger ones. Weak enemy AI and a so-so story make the journey through the districts and floors a slow burn, especially through the later levels. While the characters are easy and simple to control, it feels like many of its aspects don’t perform as well in solo compared to multiplayer.
In the end, Endless Dungeon is a serviceable game that offers some new twists and a mix that isn’t your usual. It feels tough to recommend especially during this time when some blockbuster titles like Spider-Man 2 and Super Mario Bros. Wonder really overshadow the month.