Dungeon of the Endless is a rouge-like dungeon defense game with RPG elements for the PC via Steam. Amplitude Studios, who developed the title, is best known for the addictive 4X strategy game, Endless Space. Dungeon of the Endless is currently available through the Steam Early Access program.
In addition to the tenants of the Early Access program, Amplitude Studios allows users to participate in shaping the game by using GAMES2GETHER. The system gives users access to game design documents through Ampltidue’s forums where players can discuss the documents and give feedback to help developers make improvements and changes to the game. Alternatively, gamers can vote on game features, concept art and community creations that can be implemented into the game through Early Access updates. As the game exists in alpha, certain features and components are not currently available.
The shape of things changes frequently. Every time heroes enter the dungeon, the layout and dangers change. However, one thing remains constant. They must protect their crystal until they can find an exit. Nothing is a given and everything is in flux, but making it to the surface with the crystal is always the goal. As heroes move through different floors and open more doors, the dangers grow in strength and their temerity is challenged. The longer they take to find the exit, the more monsters they must fight to prevent the destruction of their crystal or their own deaths. It is a tough mission, but they are not powerless.
Heroes begin in a room with a crystal and other resources to begin building a base as they explore the dungeon. Moving through doors opens up more of the dungeon and each door provides an opportunity to find items, resources, research crystals, heroes or monsters. Every door is a boon or danger, but it is necessary to find the exit.
Waves of monsters constantly threaten heroes. Killing monsters nets dust, which can be used to power rooms and build modules to with resources that will defend heroes.
As heroes move through doors and uncover more of the dungeon, they earn resources. Resources improve by building major modules to increase growth rate of Industry, Science and Food. The more modules in a given area improve the growth rate tremendously. As heroes move through more and more doors, their resources grow. Food is used to level up, heal and recruit heroes. Industry can be used to build more major and minor modules, as well as activate objects in rooms requiring Industry.
Minor modules help improve defenses, heal heroes or gather dust; creating these help improve a hero’s chances of survival as waves of monsters begin to rush into the dungeon. Science allows heroes to research better minor modules and upgrades to major modules to net more resources. Progress in Dungeon of the Endless becomes about using resources smartly and figuring out how best to favor each area.
Balancing out the random layouts of the dungeon are RPG elements to give heroes more of a chance at surmounting the swelling odds. Each hero has an ability to level up and equip items to make them stronger. As heroes level up, they gain active and passive skills that give them a bit of an edge when fighting off waves of enemies. Leveling up, healing and recruiting all use up Food resources. This is where resource management becomes important because buffing up heroes skills and stats using food might leave them in danger of dying in heated waves of monsters. Prioritizing Food resources may leave defenses lacking, putting heroes at a disadvantage when monsters become stronger.
Further balancing heroes is the ability to find, buy and equip items. Heroes can equip a weapon, armor and accessory, which can be purchased from a merchant. Buying items uses up dust, which is also used to power rooms and modules. Everything becomes a precarious game of balancing resources and focuses.
Dungeon of the Endless requires a careful eye and an ability to prioritize while thinking ahead. All the systems in the game make it such a magnetic and dynamic experience. It has a sense of randomness that makes rogue-likes so addicting, but has a progression and resource system that makes it seem less of an ephemeral experience.
For fans of rogue-likes, Dungeon of the Endless provides a take on the format that makes replaying dungeons fun and addictive. Figuring out a strategy to deal with huge waves of tough enemies and managing resources becomes an obsession. The prospect of moving up more floors after dying makes hitting the relaunch button a compulsion.
Early Access provides a fascinating intersection for gaming where players can purchase a product in-development and see how it evolves over time. Amplitude Studios is doing better than most by taking feedback so seriously and implementing systems to give users a definable way of impacting features they want in the game. At its purest, Early Access can help give early adopters an opportunity to make a better game. For Dungeon of the Endless, the final product should be just as compelling as its current Early Access state.