October 19, 2023
Exploration in a roguelike always comes with risks because it puts you in more danger. You risk losing your hard-earned progress and items, but you could put yourself in a better position. Endless Dungeon takes that concept and runs with it, introducing several variables to pay attention to. Put together a team of unlikely heroes and make your way to the bottom of a dungeon, with everyone seeking personal answers.
Bringing a team of competent party members makes it easier to plan strategies and coordinate. Opening rooms and building turrets adds several layers of strategy that make you cautious but let you plan in unique ways. There are some odd behaviours such as enemies getting stuck and upgrade UIs are easy to miss which is inconvenient. But these slight quirks don’t heavily impact the gameplay and you can easily spend hours diving into the dungeons.
Endless Dungeon begins with a quick tutorial before you’re introduced to the crew, other people who are trapped in a mysterious space station with an inability to die. Everyone has personal missions aboard this space station, finding answers to their mysteries as they explore. The bottom floors promise to answer serious questions and more importantly, offer a safe way out.
The story itself isn’t special but it does affect the personal missions of every character. Character upgrades are tied to side missions you can complete as you progress through the dungeons. Some missions require defeating certain enemy types or reaching certain upgrade tiers. Other missions require you to travel to certain dungeons and achieve certain milestones. It’s a great way to make you dive into other dungeons or use different characters.
Every dungeon run involves protecting and escorting a Crystal Bot. The Crystal Bot is your key to opening doors that let you progress deeper into the dungeon. You lose if it is destroyed and there are few ways to heal a Crystal Bot. It forces you to plan your defences and map out your progression properly. That level of strategy forces you to take your time and understand your capabilities, preventing you from rushing and making mistakes.
One of the best and most difficult parts of Endless Dungeon is utilising turrets in combat. Every room in a dungeon has places where you can build turrets to assist with defence or offence. Turrets help protect the Crystal Bot or resource generators, but you don’t have enough resources to build them everywhere. Building the right turrets in the right positions is a fun challenge and a good test of your planning skills.
“It’s a great way to keep players on their toes and using every advantage they can squeeze from their team.”
Every dungeon usually has a theme, even as you progress to lower floors. Different enemy types are more prominent on some floors, but that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter others by chance. You must be aware and have an arsenal capable of dealing with multiple threats or you could be overpowered. It’s a great way to keep players on their toes and use every advantage they can squeeze from their team.
Every character has unique abilities and stats, with each mission letting you bring two characters or three with an upgrade. Customising your teams is great for trying new strategies or finding new synergies. Solo play lets you switch between characters, allowing you to enjoy their advantages and utilise them when your AI teammates won’t.
Each character can hold up to two weapons, using either Heavy or Handguns depending on their personal background. Characters can’t exchange weapons but it allows them to change weapons depending on the situation. It allows you to adapt to the situation at hand, switching weapons whenever the threats change.
Your AI teammates aren’t incompetent, properly holding their own and assisting you. While they won’t do anything like repair turrets, they use their abilities at proper timings and don’t miss their targets. You can’t freely deploy them around the dungeon to protect chokepoints which is a shame. However, being able to command them to stop and hold their position makes them powerful defenders. Of course, if you have other willing adventurers, Endless Dungeon also offers 3 player co-op, so you can strategse together with your friends to make for a potentially more tactical and enjoyable experience.
Everything comes together to give you several strategic options that make the roguelike experience more enjoyable. There’s an element of randomness that’s present in all roguelikes, but you have more control over what happens. Opening rooms strategically lets you funnel them into a single room, for example. You aren’t dependent on getting awesome weapons to win; good tactics will also help even if you aren’t getting good weapons.
The amount of strategy does mean there’s a learning curve. It’s not as steep as some strategy titles, but you can’t brute-force your way through. You must fail more times than other roguelikes before you get a grasp on your preferred playstyle. Testing turrets before they are built isn’t possible and you must take a chance.
Even getting a team of three takes some time and involves understanding the upgrades available to you. It’s not explicitly spelled out which makes it easy to miss weapons or general upgrades. For example, you are told the third team member slot is available at the Gunsmith. But there isn’t a Gunsmith location; it’s the Workshop which has another section for upgrades. Turret tiers aren’t always spelled out either and it’s not clear what helps them upgrade.
There are also some glitches such as enemies getting stuck even in open spaces. This poses a problem when waves seem to end but the game doesn’t recognise it. While some glitches have an easy fix, they can disrupt gameplay and drag battles out. It makes you unsure if some attacks work as intended or if you are running into an unintended mistake.
Thankfully the game’s downsides don’t impact the positives too much. Endless Dungeon can easily drag you into its world for hours as you battle against bosses and think about upgrades. When you finally find a winning strategy and power up your team, you will be conquering floors quickly. It will require a large time investment to learn, but it’s a fun roguelike that adds good additions to the formula.
- Lots of tactical fun with team compositions & turrets
- Slow pace gives you time to breathe
- AI teammates are competent, and co-op can be a blast
- Somewhat steep learning curve
- Some glitches can affect gameplay
Endless Dungeon adds a few layers of strategy to the roguelike genre and it works well. Going in with a team and having turrets for support forces you to pool your advantages together to win. With different team combinations and turret placements, you can spend hours finding the perfect playstyle. There is a steep learning curve compared to other roguelikes and some glitches are present. Fortunately, none of that drags the experience down and you still have a solid roguelike that keeps you on your toes.