Endless Dungeon is an intentional sequel to an accidentally successful. It was launched in 2014. Amplitude Studios, the French producer of relaxing 4X games such as Endless Legend and Humankind, found a wildly contrasting mix of tower defense and roguelike known as Dungeon of the Endless. Although it was conceived during “a drunken night that was going wrong,” it was created as a skunkworks-inspired project along with Endless Legend, surpassing all the expectations of the studio when it debuted eight years ago.
What shocked Amplitude the most was the enthusiasm for Dungeon of the Endless’ multiplayer. “It was added late to the game, so it was kind of barebones in many aspects,” adds Romain de Waubert deGenlis, co-founder of Amplitude Studios. Amplitude Studios. However, more was needed to stop players from talking about the game at con conventions before the epidemic hit. “We were amazed to see that the best moments that our players were mentioning happened to be playing multiplayer.”
Endless Dungeon is designed to be an online experience right from the beginning. In reality, it’s multiplayer, even in a single-player mode, that lets you play multiple characters simultaneously, moving between them while fighting against waves of alien enemies.
The idea is similar to Dungeon of the Endless, but the players explore the abandoned station rather than an alien world. Every floor in this station is generated procedurally, and you guide an energy crystal mounted with robotic legs to the door of a particular bulkhead. But between you and the door are a variety of doors, which lead to rooms that contain everything from power-ups, and new weapons to alien hives, which periodically create numerous enemies.
Each door you open offers a few items that can be used to heal your characters, improve their skills and stats, and, most importantly, construct defenses. Your heroes aren’t able to be fast enough to stop the invading aliens from eating your crystal-bot the way a Ferrero Rocher So, so it is necessary to put Turrets in specific locations across the rooms and then strengthen them by using shields and jellifiers, which cover the floor with a forcefield that slows down.
While the underlying concept in Dungeon of the Endless is evident in the game’s design, presentation, and gameplay, Endless Dungeon is quite a different experience. It’s gone in the basic top-down pixel-art style and substituted with a more painterly 3D design that makes the station’s dynamic gunmetal-colored corridors pop with color. In addition, while there are fewer heroes than in Dungeon of the Endless, they’re distinct. The version I played featured three characters that included Zed as a kind of hybrid of Overwatch’s Tracer and the TF2’s Heavy, who can churn up enemies using a chaingun slung under her torso, as well as Bunker Spindly Robot that carries a heavy ballistic shield.
The main change, however, the most significant difference is that you can control these characters directly through the keyboard and shoot by using the mouse. You can also use unique capabilities, such as Bunker’s shield-slam, which splashes around enemies, or a technique that transforms Zed’s chaingun devastating beam weapon.
“However, it’s in combining these various elements that complex mechanics and narratives begin to emerge over the long term.” (via gamingbolt)
While it is still an early stage of the project, the battle is satisfying. Switching between characters using a single tap or spacebar is an especially nice feature. “The most challenging [thing] was trying to make the hero switch feel natural,” says Jean-Maxime Moris, creative director of Endless Dungeon. “And also that, when you switch, you wouldn’t get entirely lost in the dungeon, so we needed to add support features such as the mini-map.”
The primary sequence of gameplay is filled with tension. It is necessary to open doors to earn resources. However, each door you open will add another hive of enemies to the map. Therefore, the stakes go quickly. The waves of enemies are set to start every couple of minutes, and should you have yet to build a solid defense at the end of the third or fourth wave, your crystal bot will become in the form of stardust. Please don’t count on it bouncing around the crystal. In the end, you’ll need to order that crystal to open the bulkhead to allow access to the next level, meaning your defense must remain strong throughout the path that the crystal bot follows.
“However, Dungeon of the Endless feels truly risky, like a real labour of love that was never meant to find wide acceptance.” (via gamingbolt)
In the game I played, this was a lot of work. I made it through the first bulkhead door once, but my crystal bot was destroyed shortly after. The difficulty may be intentional. Amplitude would like Endless Dungeon to be a challenging experience. As is typical in roguelikes, the characters you play with will increase in strength throughout many sessions, allowing them to resist the alien waves. However, Moris acknowledges Amplitude is trying to balance the tower defense element the title offers. “We need to improve it and make it more polished and feel even more powerful,” Moris declares. “There’s stuff that we can do to improve the placement of the turrets, the feedback you get when they do something, the general dynamic and synergies with the gunfights.”
The foes I encountered during the demonstration mainly were the size of giant bugs that, although acceptable fodder to start within a tower defense scenario, do not make for an exciting adversary over the long term. However, Moris said that it is only one of the types of enemies that you’ll encounter during Endless Dungeon. “We have four families of enemies, each [of which] has four or five different enemies in them,” Moris says. “So this will give some idea about the diversity we offer. We’ll spread it across ten different environments.”
It was fleeting, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing Endless Dungeon. The tension of opening doors and tackling any spills to the threshold is well-done, and the mix of tower defense and roguelike provides an excellent study platform for Amplitude to build on. But it doesn’t have an element of excitement. When I sought out Moris and de Waubert de Genlis about what this game has to offer, which we’ve not previously seen, they pointed out the broad mix of tower defense and roguelike as the ability to directly control your players. However, the former was also present within Dungeon of the Endless, and I would like to know if you’d want to put this on the side of the box. There are plenty of tower defense games that have direct control afterward.
“The game further mixes all this up with the turret types. Turrets start out as your standard DPS-dealing fare but soon you’ll research technology like healing units, defense-bolstering units, repair units and whatnot.” (via gamingbolt)
It’s also the beginning of the year. Endless Dungeon is currently in open development. The studio is teaming up with users to improve and enhance the overall experience. The spark may emerge in the roguelike mode or while working with other players when playing multiplayer. Whatever the case, Endless Dungeon looks set to be an enjoyable romp with plenty of time for Amplitude to transform into something unique.