Dungeon of the Endless is much like the collages we’re used to making as children in art class – the developers who made it, however, are closer to senior year high school students who’ll proceed into a major in arts than a tasteless elementary school kid (bad phrasing?). The creators took elements from tower defense games, roguelikes, strategy and role-playing games, took out the parts that interested them the most and melded them together into a functioning, original game.
There are five resources in DotE: food, industry, dust, science (FIDS, as they are often called) and doors. Food is used to upgrade, heal and hire new characters to your party; industry is used to construct modules; dust is used to power up rooms and science is used to discover new modules and upgrades. Doors are what determine your resource generation and the cooldown of your skills, and their opening will also have a chance to result in the spawning of monsters in your unlit rooms. Behind them, you might find more dust, new monsters, resource packets, merchants and new heroes.
It is a hard game. You’ll have to juggle your resources carefully and decide whether you need to construct modules to help kill the waves of monsters, level up your characters or heal them before reaching the elevator, or keep said resources for future use – a bad decision early on can weigh you down several levels later. Fortunately, Amplitude manages to tie in all needed information in a slick and easily accessible UI – my only complaint about it would be inventory management, which seems a bit fidgety.
The level you’re on gets increasingly hard the further you explore it: not every room you open will be a room you can power up, and unpowered and unoccupied rooms will spawn monsters that’ll attack your heroes and damage your crystal – let them hurt it enough and it’s game over. You’ll have a variety of heroes to choose from, and they all function differently: aside from their attributes (such as speed, damage, HP, armor), they have passive skills that may give you a chance to get dust upon killing a monster, or that allows them to improve a module if they stay in its room, and active skills that you can activate in the thick of combat. A wide variety of them and having to find them stranded on the different levels means you’ll have plenty to discover – they also interact with other heroes, with results you might not be entirely fond of.
Random level generation, multiple party setups and different escape pods (with their own particular mechanics, such as not being able to use defense modules) will guarantee an experience that is, strictly speaking, different every time. I felt that the wonder of the game diminished a good bit after I reached the end for the first time, but even that took me over a dozen hours, spread across a number of failed playthroughs. The art style and sound all contribute to the game’s atmosphere, with tunes of different intensity when you fight through the level, start carrying the crystal to the exit and leave through the elevator.
You’ll always be in for a challenge, even if once you’ve completed the game you think you know the ropes. Dungeon of the Endless doesn’t have any glaring flaws I can speak of, only that it might become uninteresting once you’ve completed it a first time. The fact that it draws from so many genres also means that the elements of these genres within the game are simplified – the particulars of tower defense, resource using and battle are all simple enough, it’s their combination that might be difficult to grasp. It’s a solid game that’s pleasing to the eye, and if you’re a fan of Amplitude’s other games in the Endless universe, you might feel this game to be a bit more of a personal approach to their lore.