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Dungeon Of The Endless

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: Playdigious
Developer: Amplitude Studios
Release Date: May 15, 2020

About Joseph Doyle

Joe has been known to have two hands with which to both play games and write reviews. When his hands are not doing those, he will put books, musical instruments, and other fun things in them.


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PS4 Review - 'Dungeon of the Endless'

by Joseph Doyle on June 23, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Dungeon of the Endless is a rogue-like dungeon-defense game offering a retro 2D look with modern 3D graphics.

Buy Dungeon of the Endless

The fear of the unknown drives many of the decisions we make, but sometimes, we have to dive into the unknown headfirst, without any safeguards or protections to save us. Dungeon of the Endless embraces this murkiness from several different perspectives gaming-wise, and it delivers a mostly cogent telling of the dungeon-crawling search of safety that we all know — and sometimes love.

While Dungeon of the Endless doesn't reinvent the wheel, it does smash together several different wheel parts to make a fun and well-functioning, albeit different, wheel. After crash-landing in a pod from space, your characters find themselves in a — spoiler alert — dungeon. From a small, dark room with only the company of your crewmembers and a spinning yellow octahedron, you're tasked with progressing, exploring and fending off foes in the hopes of reaching the exit. In this way, Dungeon of the Endless embraces both roguelike (roguelite, for all you genre elitists) and dungeon-crawling elements, with the game providing different maps every time.

Unlike its genre-bending brethren, like The Binding of Isaac and Risk of Rain, which are more action-based, Dungeon of the Endless also mixes in tactical and strategy elements in a compelling way. You select the characters you wish to use and send them off to explore; along the way, they battle enemies and collect the main resources of dust, food, science and technology. Resources allow you to level up and heal your characters, build modules and nodes to generate more resources and defend your rooms. Dust determines which rooms can receive the nodes and upgrades; you power them with the crystal from the first room, and you gain more dust as you explore. You can even turn them on and off and redirect the path to different rooms as you learn the layout. You need to do all of this in addition to trying to find the right balance of resources and offensive and defensive nodes to get you through the game. It can be intriguing and even infuriating at times, but in a good way.

The end of each level is where everything can go wrong, and that's when frustration levels can quickly rise. Once you find the level's exit and have gathered enough dust to direct it toward that room, one of your characters (you usually start with two) has to carry that fun yellow polyhedron to the end while enemies swarm the floor! Yikes! While this is incredibly exciting, it is pretty lopsided in difficulty compared to the rest of the game, and it changes Dungeon of the Endless into a tower defense title. Splattered throughout levels are new party members and upgrades and items that you can equip. There's a lot going on here!

The question remains: How do all of these genres play together? Pretty well, surprisingly. Some of the intrigue of exploring and fear of dying is lost when you're trying to calculate the number of resources at your disposal. The characters' different play styles are negligible unless you're very invested. There are a lot of stats that aren't well explained, and you can't use the directional buttons to navigate the menus, which may be a pet peeve but is incredibly unsettling. The gameplay itself is a little banal at times, but overall, Dungeon of the Endless provides a wide cross-section of genres in an innovative and well-executed way.

The visuals are bafflingly incongruent. For the most part, the game embraces a 16-bit art style, pitting bright neon hues against deep earthy tones that represent the underground technology aesthetic. From the cut scenes to the characters to the backgrounds to the items, all of the sprite work is incredibly well done and draw in the player. While the animation doesn't have the same kick, this game's visuals are reminiscent of Motion Twin's Dead Cells, which was a visual tour de force.

However, Dungeon of the Endless misses the mark in its user interface with inconsistent design choices. For example, when you access the system menu in-game, it appears like a default menu from one of the RPG Maker: a generic italic font (Times New Roman-adjacent), a light gray background, and chunky button icons next to each option. When you unpause the game and go into the build menu, it reverts to the original 16-bit aesthetics. Then you'll hit the loading screen with the aforementioned font stuck on top of a nice panoramic shot. One of the other caveats I have is that some of the iconography is incredibly small and difficult to decipher. It ends up feeling rather uncoordinated and looking clunky, as if the developers didn't foresee the menus existing or they ran out of time and shipped it anyway. It's distracting, which is such a shame because the rest of the visuals are executed very well.

Sonically, Dungeon of the Endless follows the 16-bit aesthetic and creates a lurking, mysterious soundscape that accompanies your exploration into the depths. Tracks embrace the unknown with sparse melodies that ring with reverb accompanied by eerie, looming chords. Unease builds as you open another doorway, the synthesizers following not far behind, crunching and belching ominously. The music in this game creeps up on you, waiting for your character to be alone to surround them with awe and confusion, and it also utilizes pregnant pauses that are reminiscent of the late Alan Rickman. To put it simply, it's good stuff.

At the end of the day, Dungeon of the Endless attempts to scratch a lot of itches by meshing together a lot of different genres, and it manages to do so in a satisfying way. The collection and allocation of resources aren't the most intriguing aspects of the game, but the gameplay is still pretty solid. Meanwhile, the character selection and roguelite elements provide plenty of replayability. The visuals and music are predominantly well developed, but the UI could use some extra attention. For enthusiasts of pixel art, 16-bit music, and games that utilize light strategy elements, Dungeon of the Endless is for you.

Score: 8.0/10

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