‘Endless Dungeon’ is a tense mix of tower defense and twin-stick hero shooter

by mcdix

My first playthrough of Endless Dungeon ended in disaster. The “Crystal Bot” I was supposed to defend was overrun by a hungry swarm of bugs after I left it open to attack by pulling my two heroes away to protect a source point. Of course, I started another run immediately after I had a moment to curse my luck.

Endless Dungeon falls somewhere between a sequel and remake of 2014’s Dungeon of the Endless, the game that helped developer Amplitude Studios make a name for itself. Like its predecessor, Endless Dungeon instructs you to protect a crystal from hordes of enemies while making your way through a mysterious, multi-level dungeon. But where Dungeon of the Endless takes place on a strange alien planet, it is set on a station left by the Endless, the ancient alien race that links Amplitude’s projects.

Amplitude built the game from the ground up with multiplayer in mind. Also new to Endless Dungeon is that it is a twin-stick shooter with a roguelike progression, meaning you have to start at the beginning of the game every time you fail your target; still, you will experience some of the things you’ve earned carry-over to make your next run easier.

Endless Dungeon

“We had a lot of ideas for Dungeon of the Endless that didn’t make it into the game,” said lead game designer Arthur Prudent at a press event Sega held last week. “This time, we wanted to do something more accessible. That’s why we wanted the player to have direct control. That forced us to change a lot of things.” Each run of Endless Dungeon begins with choosing a team of misfits to dive into the station’s depths. In the demo I played, you could take two characters with you. The final game will feature eight playable heroes, with a full squad consisting of three squad members.

When playing online, you and two other friends control one character each. You can only play as one hero at a time in a single player. However, you can give orders to your two party members. Each hero has a backstory, playstyle, and special and ultimate abilities. One of my favorites, Zed, carries a minigun into battle with her and can clear rooms with an explosive line attack.

Once you’ve put together a squad, most of Endless Dungeon’s gameplay consists of attempting to get the cute Crystal Bot I mentioned earlier to the end of a level so it can descend further down the station, and you can find what is in the middle. The upside is that whenever you try to move the robot, an endless horde of enemies will attack until the bot is destroyed or you successfully get it to its destination. Waves of enemies will also periodically attack you as you explore each level.

What makes the action in Endless Dungeon so exciting is that it’s a tower defense game where you don’t know the full layout of a level when you start. You have to explore each group to find all the enemy spawn points. My first run ended when doors were undefended with a central switch that you can activate all at once, allowing you to control the path of enemies.

Each level consists of  My first run ended when I left undefended one of the corridors leading to my Crystal Bot. In each room. There were several rooms; youcan build turrets to thin out enemy waves iIn addition to the usual range of damage dealing, you can build turrets that slow down your enemies and protect your other assets to make them more resistant to attack. Gone from Dungeon of the Endless is that game’s lighting mechanic where enemies would spawn in rooms where you didn’t spend Dust to power them. That makes planning your defense bore and less difficult, as you must find the enemy’s special spawn points.

Building turrets requires a resource called industry. In addition to food and science, it’s one of three primary resources you collect to build structures, heal your heroes, research new turrets, and more. With a fourth resource, called Dust Shards, you can upgrade your Crystal Bot and restore power to rooms that aren’t already. Managing your resources in Endless Dungeon is its tightrope walk. As you explore each station floor, you’ll find rooms with places for generators that can contribute to your food, industry, or scientific supplies. With enough industry points, you can build other extractors, each costing more than the last. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Endless Dungeon takes place in real time, but your generators are only added to your resource pool when you open a new room. In addition, they are one of the first things that the station’s inhabitants will attack on ohe way to your Crystal Bot. To complicate matters, even if you build an industry generator in every spot you find, you won’t have enough material for all the turrets you need to defend everything—BExpansioncomes with risks in Endless Dungeon. The game constantly asks you to make those kinds of decisions. For example, collecting Dust Shards will require you to uproot and move your Crystal Bot, weaving behind any turrets you’ve built to defend it. Obtaining upgrades from a research terminal is equally dangerous, as launching it will cause a wave of enemies.

My second and third runs. “The game is supposed to be hard,” Prudent tells me and everyone else participating in the event. I finished as well as my first, and I’m no closer to completing the demo than when the preview started. “The game is supposed to be in Endless Dungeon; you find yourself in a bar playing smooth jazz in the background. Here you’ll get the chance to talk to all the characters you can take on during your runs and unlock the things that will make your next playthrough smoother.

Endless Dungeon doesn’t have a release date, but you can play it on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch when it arrives. Amplitude Studios wasn’t ready to preview those systems when I played the game. Without experiencing them, it’s hard to say whether Endless Dungeon will have the staying power of games like Hades or Rogue Legacy 2. Still, I played recently and am excited meto see where the studio takes the game. Our editorial team, independent of our parent company, has selected all products Engadget recommends. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission ifyou buy something through one of these links,

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