Dungeon of the Endless – Game Club recap
This month’s game was Dungeon of the Endless by Amplitude Studios, described on Steam as a Rogue-Like Dungeon-Defense game. The player and their team of heroes must protect the generator of their crashed ship while exploring an ever-expanding dungeon, all while facing waves of monsters and special events as they try to find their way out…
None of us in the club actually did manage to find our way out, and only managed to make it to about level 6 or 7 on “Easy” mode. This must have been sarcasm on the part of the developers, because one of our biggest issues with the game was the crushing level of difficulty that took away from our ability to really get deep into the game’s systems and mechanics.
The game is a blend of genres mixing roguelikes, 4x stragey, RPG and tower defense. While it’s definitely a unique combination of popular genres, there was never the feeling that the best part of each one came together to make the experience better than the sum of its parts.
One of our biggest issues with the game was the crushing level of difficulty.
Dungeon of the Endless definitely has some interesting mechanics with a great tech tree to upgrade your defenses and resource generating modules. There is also the player roster that starts off with 4 base characters that vary between tanks and speedier characters. Then, as you progress in the game, you find more interesting characters who you can recruit if you have enough food, but will only be available if you survive three levels with them in your party, or make it to the exit with them. These mechanics were hindered by the game’s difficulty though, because just as you discover a new upgrade or character, you likely die shortly thereafter without getting enough time to learn about them — and have to start over form the beginning with no carry over from previous play sessions. The best roguelikes let you learn from your mistakes and discover new strategies on each run to make it further the next time, but we never felt like we could get into that groove in Dungeon of the Endless.
We decided to play a few rounds of the multiplayer version of the game, and the thing we found most interesting was that everyone has their own way of playing the game. Some were just running and gunning their way through the level and using the game’s light/power mechanic to control the waves of enemies that spawn. Others took a much more cautious approach going room by room and building turret defenses to handle the enemies. The fact that the game accommodates so many play styles is a testament to the developers, but the fact that none of us made it any further than the other says that either none of us hit on the right strategy or there just isn’t one.
One commonality among the players was a struggle with the game’s UI. It has roguelike elements and a mainstay of the genre is player discovery and minimal tutorials, but a game UI that obscures key functionality led to more frustration than fun and discovery that needed to happen on a wiki page or YouTube instead of in the game. There is also a lot of confusing statistics and text connected to upgradable items that makes it hard to know where you should invest your resources.
One of the things that drew me to the game was the pixel art style, but it ended up being another point of contention for the club, as the art style didn’t seem cohesive throughout, with too much visual noise and not enough communication to the player as to what was good/bad/dangerous. In a game where light is very important, with the player lighting their way as they go, the lighting was often confusing — with the dark rooms being way too dark and the lit rooms highlighting the wrong things in the room, often drawing the player’s eye to a non-interactive object in the room.
Criticisms aside it is still a fun game, and I recommend you try it for yourself to see if those of us in the club were just really bad at it, or if you too get stuck in the Dungeon of the Endless.
We’re taking next month off since our host will be in the court of The Taken King, but we’ll be back in October with This War of Mine , a dark tale of survival in a war-torn nation.