Dungeon of the Endless is a roguelike game (exploration game in a randomly generated universe) containing elements of tower defense. The program is a space epic where you have to manage a team of adventurers who battle through the various levels of the game in the hope of escaping from hell.
In space, no one can hear you scream...
Dungeon of the Endless is far from being just a copy of the usual roguelike specifications and genre. While the classical mechanisms of the genre are present, with levels that change with each new game, lots of difficulty and an emphasis on the role playing aspect – the game actually goes much further. You can choose from two characters to simultaneously manage, and can recruit more over your adventure (just know that a good number of them will likely die quickly).
Each level of the Dungeon of Endless is made up of a large number of rooms. The only one in which you appear is the one visible at the start, and you have to explore them one by one. The tension is palpable whenever you open a new door, since it always leads to a surprise: a bunch of rabid aliens, a piece of equipment, a merchant, a new character etc.
You get the thrill of discovering new things time and again in Dungeon of Endless, and you end up with this rather pleasant feeling of a "lucky dip" – you never know what danger or wonder hides behind the next door you decide to open. That said, you should never forget that your ultimate goal is to get out alive from the hell in which you've ended up. You have to find the exit on each level and activate the crystals, all the while braving waves of ferocious enemies. It's at this point that the game reveals the originality of its gameplay: as you explore the different rooms, you can build machines and turrets that will slow the advance of the aliens who want to prevent you from reaching the Release. An excellent strategic concept that will require a lot of thought, just as you'd find in the best tower defense!
A difficult game with sometimes risky handling
Dungeon of the Endless is, without a doubt, difficult! Agreed, that's not particularly surprising for a roguelike, but it's always good to bear this in mind before you embark on the adventure. The game doesn't give you any second chances, and once your characters have been killed off, you just have to start the adventure in new rooms. Prepare to shed blood, sweat and tears before coming to the end of this sadistic epic!
The level of difficulty in a roguelike can hardly be considered a defect with the game, but the shortcomings in terms of maneuverability are more troublesome. Once your team has started to grow, you may have trouble managing four characters at once, without losing half of them when each wave of aliens attacks. An active break option is luckily there to allow you to stop time and give orders, while the lack of reactivity in the characters is definitely a conscious choice by the developer to encourage you to use your characters strategically in each level. What it does mean is that the gaming experience suffers, and that the slow pace isn't quite offset by the strategic depth.
Delicious retro graphics
Dungeon of the Endless is a feast for the eyes, provided you have a weakness for 8bit graphics and large pixels. The colors and lighting effects are very nice and reflect perfectly the oppressive atmosphere of the place, while the music is reminiscent of the fantastic Faster Than Light. It will delight all fans of the "indie" esthetic , while others may have more trouble getting to love something that could appear to be really dated.
Our verdict: an original and absorbing game
Dungeon of the Endless is a success. The game is addictive and immediately accessible, taking advantage of its unique game mechanics to give us an intense experience. On the downside, it's ruthlessly difficult and at times gameplay is too slow. Ultimately, however, it's a great surprise if you have a weakness for smart roguelike games!