It’s been almost a full year since I first played Endless Dungeon, successor to 2014’s roguelike tower defense game, Dungeon of the Endless, and it’s come quite a long way in that time. Whether it’s a drastically expanded roster of characters, some much-needed meta progression to make each run feel like a tiny step forward, or combat and an upgrade system that feels much more tightly tuned, so much of this exceedingly difficult defense game feels far more fleshed out. And while I only had a few hours to test my mettle against it, so far it seems like Endless Dungeon will be the roguelite evolution that fans have been waiting for.
Like Dungeon of the Endless before it, Endless Dungeon is a four-player tactical hybrid tower defense game that had me trying to escape a supernatural space station. While last year I only had two options to pick from, this time I was immediately surprised to see that the roster has grown to eight, including some of my new favorites: Fassie, a fashionable alien bartender who relies on his mixology skills whilst dungeon delving; and Comrade, a revolution-loving robot who uses his personal turrets to fight the power. Together, with a squad of friends, I dove back into Endless Dungeon’s unforgiving hallways filled with extremely rude machines and ferocious monsters.
Endless Dungeon Screens (Nintendo Direct – Sept 2022)
The biggest change since I played Endless Dungeon last year is the existence of a meta progression system. Previously no progression existed, and what was planned was largely horizontal progression where new characters and items unlocked, but I couldn’t actually become more powerful except through honing my skill. But the people at Amplitude seem to have shifted that philosophy a bit. Now there were also Chips – essentially modifiers – which gradually built up my characters so they could do things like passively increase their defenses, give buffs to the Crystal Bot I was charged with protecting, or reduce the cooldown of my character’s Ultimate Skill.
Repeated failure is a hallmark of any good roguelike or roguelite, but knowing each defeat got me a little closer to giving my characters a boost here and there certainly made those losses less humbling. None of these buffs were so powerful that I could brute force my way through a level, and as roguelites go my ability to grind my way to victory was substantially lower, but I’d be lying if I said the extra help wasn’t welcome.
That’s because Endless Dungeon remains a brutally difficult gauntlet that proved incredibly challenging even with several of Amplitude’s own developers as my crewmates. Enemies were relentless and came at me from every angle, and very careful planning, resource management, and communication was required to keep the enemy at bay. This wasn’t my first time in these cutthroat hallways, so I fared much better than a year ago, but clearly merciless difficulty remains a central focus, and as someone who enjoys a good challenge, that was nice to see.
Luckily, Endless Dungeon gave me more upgrades and ways to beef up my character mid-run than was possible in the last preview build, as a whole slew of interesting weapons were now common loot drops to give me an edge in battle. In one run, I found a flamethrower capable of making quick work of giant, fire-averse bugs, while in another I found a laser cannon capable of ripping through robotic foes. On the spot upgrades to my character’s stats, like one perk that gave my turret-loving Comrade an extra toy to leave behind on the battlefield, were especially useful.
Where Endless Dungeon originally had my interest, the version I played more recently has my attention. Here’s hoping I can overcome its formidable corridors when it’s released later this year.
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