Dungeon of the Endless brings together mechanics from RPGs, tower defence and survival games and ties them together with a Rogue-like knot. The result is a wonderfully compelling and a splendidly unique experience, one that’s made all the more appealing by its multiplayer component which allows up to four players to join in on the fun. It is, however, lousy with bugs, but with full release a good month away, hopefully the worst of them can be ironed out.
With this preview build we struggled through the bugs as they snatched victory away from us at the most heart-breaking moments and frequently threw up obstacles to impede our progress. We kept at it, though, never letting the bugs win, and a large part of why we kept playing was just how much fun we were having despite the setbacks.
Having crash-landed on an alien planet and penetrating deep into a not-so-natural network of caves, you take control of a pair of survivors and must uncover the procedurally generated dungeon made up of rooms filled with mysterious architecture and technology, find the exit, grab your escape pod’s crystal and climb to the surface 12 floors up. But of course it’s not as easy as that, as each floor is also full of monsters. These beasts are discovered randomly as you unlock each door to each new section of the dungeon, and also have a chance to spawn in any discovered but unpowered rooms. In order to limit the monster spawns and protect your party of survivors and the escape pod’s crystal, you need to use your resources to power rooms and then build defences, support modules, and resource generating nodes in them.
On top of that you can also find items to equip that increase your attack power, defence, speed and wit, whilst also levelling up your survivors at the cost of resources. Other survivors can also be found within the dungeon, allowing you to recruit and switch out new members in your party, with each character sporting their own set of stats that make them more effective at certain things. Furthermore the nodes and modules you can build can be upgraded by finding a mysterious research crystal. Meanwhile, in singleplayer each character has their own personal story that’s gradually revealed between floors.
It’s a complex set of mechanics that can easily overwhelm you in your initial few attempt to survive the dungeon, and whilst a tutorial is present, it’s hidden away behind in-game menus and is disappointingly text-based. However, once you do figure out how everything fits together it reveals itself to be magnificently conceived and well-balanced, as well as hugely compelling.
Different escape pods can be chosen at the start – once they’re unlocked – which modify the experience with additional challenges, and the characters offer a variety of different skills and stats to change things up, all this on top of the procedurally generated nature of the title and Dungeon of the Endless possesses oodles of longevity.
The bugs truly are horrendous in this preview build, however. Research not completing, monsters that can’t be targeted, the level not ending once you reach the exit with the crystal, freezing on the transition screen between floors, and several more bugs hindered our progress over and over again. It remained fun but became frustrating, but as long as these bugs are quelled for release, then I’m certain when we come to review Dungeon of the Endless, the praise will be astronomical.