Roguelikes are something else. They require a fine balance of strategy and unpredictability so as to not alienate or dominate players. That’s why we have an alpha version of Dungeon of the Endless. It isn’t quite there yet. With only 3 levels and some slight issues, what we see on Steam should act as no more than a demonstration. Certainly this dungeon is nowhere near endless.
The concept they are attempting to execute though is fully here. It has a unique tower defense RPG system going for it. Dungeon of the Endless has some potential to be a great dungeon crawler.
Dungeon of the Endless starts with your space ship wrecking with two random survivors. These survivors must then search for a way down to the depths of this dungeon they’ve crash landed on and move their energy core down to the lower depths. This requires you to open up a bunch of doors full of unknown elements. Opening most doors will lead you to a group of enemies, but sometimes you’ll find an ally, treasure, or extra bit of energy to help you power up your defenses. Each door is a new surprise, but its only constant is that eventually all doors will open up new waves of enemies.
It took me a few times to actually figure out what strategy the game wanted me to employ. Starting with only 2 characters means the game wants you to have a runner and defense character. Sometimes you’ll luck out with a quick swordsman and a slow tank, sometimes you’ll be stuck with characters that won’t help you out much early on. That’s fine because you can stumble across allies lower down.
The doors however are the main draw. Deeper down in the dungeons, you begin with multiple paths. The only assurance that enemies won’t pop out of a room you control is that you’ve powered them up. Since this power up system disappears with each level, you have to build up energy by defeating enemies. Energy isn’t as abundant as you might think and worse yet, that energy is your currency if you happen to meet a merchant and need some weapons and armor.
So instead of just setting up a few outposts for your characters you actually have to map out a route for them to take. This means one way in and one way out of the room your core is set up in. Originally I tried opening multiple pathways and setting up defense positions. This really just doesn’t work because later in the game, unpowered rooms create enemies regardless of whether or not they are connected to anything.
The game plan that works out best seems to be to create one path with a runner and set up a major line of defense to trap enemies with. It works surprisingly well and seems to take a lot of the strategy out of the game once you figure it out.
I say all this because Dungeon of the Endless looks great and has some really good ideas that can be expanded on. It just isn’t quite there yet. This is a demo which needs some fleshing out. Having only 3 levels is ridiculous when you are selling a game with a title like Dungeon of the Endless. Later on in the game the input for my controls to move my runner just weren’t registering, which meant that his saving grace was his speed and the fact that I had healing rooms set up. Each time I’d try to move him he would stop think about it and either get hung up in a doorway or simply decide not to run. When you have 4 groups of enemies attacking from all around you, that gets to be maddening with each new room you open.
The game’s concept is sound and Dungeon of the Endless is not a bad looker either. I just feel that it is one of those Early-Access titles you should watch out for simply because it only needs one big update to change the game from something that’s not quite there to something that really should be grabbing your attention. Right now though, it has a ways to go before it becomes something more than a good idea.
Dungeon of the Endless currently retails in two forms. You can pay $12.99 for the base model, which comes with a soundtrack on release, and that would be all you need. However the game does offer a Founder Pack at $19.99 which adds an additional ship and hero when the game releases, as well as some coupons for Endless Space.