Endless Dungeon: The Audacity of a Hybrid Game
Combining different genres into one video game can be a risky endeavor. Just like trying to turn a car into a boat, merging two very different functions can be challenging. However, Endless Dungeon defies the odds and successfully blends twin-stick shooting, tower defense, and science fiction roguelite elements into one cohesive and exciting gaming experience.
Set aboard The Station, a massive, multi-leveled space station formerly owned by the enigmatic race known as the Endless, Endless Dungeon presents players with a simple yet intriguing objective. The station is abandoned, except for the monsters on each floor and a small group of heroic characters trapped inside. The only hope for survival lies in reaching the Station’s Core and reactivating the Reactor to escape.
Visually, the game is stunning, with attractive, colorful, and comic book-esque art style. Initially, Endless Dungeon appears and plays like a solid cyberpunk-infused twin-stick shooter, reminiscent of games like The Ascent. Aiming and shooting while in motion is seamless with both keyboard and gamepad controls, and gameplay varies widely depending on the character you choose from the eight playable options.
For example, Sweeper, an in-over-his-head janitor, uses light weapons like pistols and possesses the Slippery When Wet ability to slow enemies down in soapy waters. On the other hand, Zed, a punk rock influenced soldier, focuses purely on damage and wields heavy weapons such as rifles and rocket launchers, with a wide-arcing Sonic Boom attack. The various character abilities add depth and strategy to the game.
The gameplay in Endless Dungeon alternates between tension during exploration and adrenaline during action, creating a well-paced experience. The main objective is to move a slow, four-legged robot called the Crystal Bot from its dock to an exit hidden somewhere in each level, all while protecting it from waves of enemies. The challenge lies in the procedurally generated maps, where opening each door can lead to various outcomes, such as finding power-ups, activating traps, or encountering monsters.
What sets Endless Dungeon apart is the level design. Despite being procedurally generated, each level feels purpose-built, with a rhythm of alternating between linear pathways and interconnected hubs. Reaching the end of a difficult floor, low on health and facing multiple doors, creates a life-or-death decision-making process for players. It becomes a thrilling game of chance where the unknown can either save or doom you.
The variety of enemies in the game adds to the excitement. There are four distinct monster types, each with their own unit types, abilities, and elemental affinities. Choosing the right strategy becomes crucial as different factions and enemy combinations require adaptation and quick thinking. The diverse selection of weapons, along with hidden treasure chests throughout the levels, helps in combating the various enemy types.
Endless Dungeon incorporates tower defense elements seamlessly into the gameplay. Most rooms contain nodes where you can build automated stationary weapons to fend off waves of enemies. As the number of enemies increases, so does the need for adequate defenses. Placing turrets is fast, easy, and provides a satisfying layer of strategy.
The tower defense aspect relies on managing resources gained from opening doors. Industry points are used for building turrets and activating generators to increase resource gains, while Science points unlock and upgrade new turrets. Food points are essential for purchasing health packs and character buffs. This system adds another level of decision-making and risk-reward mechanics, making the gameplay engaging and dynamic.
Endless Dungeon embraces its roguelite nature, sending players back to a starting hub called The Saloon if they die. It creates a sense of progression and replayability, encouraging players to make deeper runs towards The Core. The Saloon serves as a relaxing space to unwind, understand the game’s lore, recruit new characters, and enjoy the fantastic soundtrack.
Despite its amalgamation of different genres, Endless Dungeon succeeds in creating a cohesive and enjoyable gaming experience. The audacity to combine twin-stick shooting, tower defense, and roguelite elements is admirable, and the result is a borderline miraculous game that captures the best aspects of each genre. Whether you’re a fan of one or all three of these genres, Endless Dungeon is a delightful and challenging adventure worth undertaking.