The horror! The pain! The agony of defeat. That is what I could easily sum up my first several attempts at getting very far in Amplitude Studios’ new game Dungeon of the Endless for the iPad. So what sparked my previous starting statements? Dungeon of the Endless is the newest installment in the Endless series (Endless Space, Endless Legend) that that is interesting hybrid of a rogue-like and tower defense game in one that’s biggest drawback for me is that I’m terrible at both.
That said it took me a while to get the hang of the tactics required as well as figuring out the ins and outs of Dungeon of the Endless. Starting off you choose two characters from a fairy limited roster of survivors after your escape pod crashes on an unknown planet after being ejected from a penal transport. The complete roster features 19 characters, some of whom look awfully similar to some iconic characters in media.
Each character has unique skills as well as stats. For instance Sara Numas has speed at her disposal making her great form getting back to your crystal or other areas remarkably fast. On the opposite side of Ara you have characters like Gork “Butcher” Koroser who lack speed but more than make up for in firepower. Finding the right balance of characters to complete each floor is one of the key ingredients to success. The other is learning how to manage resources as you attempt and eventually make it through each floor.
Dungeon of the Endless doesn’t do a great job of explaining the mechanics of what to do though by tapping or holding the screen over a part of the HUD you can see what that feature does. Actually using the interface is pretty easy though sometimes tricky to handle, especially when interacting with objects near the playable character such as selecting device slots. Getting a character to move to a particular spot is also problematic at times but by no means game-breaking. Things will get hectic at times though especially once you gain the ability to have 4 survivors on the floor at one time so I hope your quick with your fingers as you swipe, pinch,tap and two-finger tap your way into a hopeful victory.
The main objective of each floor is to utilize your two characters to search for an exit room by room until they find the exit and then transport your power crystal to it. The game is basically turned-based as every time you open a door in your search you will be rewarded with dust, industry, science and food to help you build generators, turrets and other machines to aid you along the way. Dust when gained improves the strength of your power crystal as well as allowing you to purchase items from the merchant whenever you find him.
The items you can buy can be equipped right away or banked for future floors. Dungeon of the Endless is all about making choices like that. Do you continue to explore more rooms once you find the exit or do you explore some more and build up your defenses for the inevitable onslaught of monsters that will appear the moment you decide to slowly move your crystal to the exit? The same goes for food resources as they are both means to heal your guys or level them up. That’s the beauty of Dungeon of the Endless. There is no right definite way to get through each floor as you have to deal with constantly changing dungeons as well as dealing with monsters that will try and destroy your crystal while your rooms away.
There are certain things that will help you though to keep in mind. Rooms in Dungeon of the Endless can be lit up or darkened unless they are “mysterious lit” already. Besides making a room a lot less ominous, powering up a continuous chain of rooms allows for devices to work but more importantly keeps monsters from spawning in those areas. The trick is that you can only have so many rooms active at one time based upon your crystal’s power level. Turning off a room also turns off any generators and devices that are there too so plan accordingly. You can dismantle generators, turrets and the like if you need to but you gain no resources back from doing it so plan wisely.
One thing that I noticed right off the bat is that the ability to power rooms on/off also shows off the graphical work that Amplitude has put into the dark sci-fi look and feel of the game. Unlike the modern look of their other games, Dungeon of the Endless is presented in the more classic pixelated style of the rogue-like genre. The nearly top down nature of the game shows off well designed levels filled with atmospheric elements like flowing water and smoke not to mention character animations. The score and atmospheric sound effects also add to the mysterious and ominous nature of this sci-fi adventure quite well.
I had a rough start going into Dungeon of the Endless but with practice and a little humble pie to get through the first level I found an engaging and well-made hybrid creation of rogue-like and tower defense. The procedural nature of Dungeon of the Endless makes it so no two runs are ever the same but there are more ways to enjoy the game as you play. That limited cast of playable characters can be expanded with a bit of a metagame where you unlock new ones as you come across them on the floors. There are also ships to unlock that require you to meet specific requirements before you can use them. Some of these requirements are pretty steep so I hope you’re ready for a real challenge.
In the end, Dungeon of the Endless is a challenging yet wonderful mix of genres that aren’t really my forte but after a while can be a lot of fun, especially for players who like a game with some longevity. While I may not be able to unlock the more interesting ships for some time, I won’t give up without a fight. So if you love rogue-like and tower defense then I definitely recommend checking out Dungeon of the Endless for the iPad today.