Dungeon of the Endless

I was in a mood for a new roguelike for those times when you want to play something for 10 minutes (but end up spending 2 hours), so I picked up Dungeon of the Endless. After finally completing the first ship on Too Easy mode – having died a dozen times in frustrating ways on Easy mode (only two options at the start) – I’m not sure that I’m up to playing any more.

DotE_1.jpg

No, no there is not.

The core mechanics to this game are actually really novel and layered. The goal is to open new rooms until you find the exit, then move the crystal to said exit. Each time you open a door though, you trigger a Tower Defense-esque round where enemies may or may not pour from every unpowered room that you have discovered (unless characters are parked in those rooms). You can power and unpower rooms at will, but are limited to a certain number of powered rooms based on your Dust level. Dust is discovered by opening rooms and killing enemies.

Additionally, each door that gets opened gives you X amount of Industry, Science, and Food, which can be augmented by building components in powered rooms. Oh, and there are defenses you can place, new tech to research, items to equip, your characters can level up by using Food, and so on.

If it sounds complicated… it actually isn’t, amazingly. While you can order your characters (up to four) around, you can only tell them to go to given rooms; they attack automatically. Eventually you can unlock extra abilities, which generally last less than 10 seconds and thereafter take 2-3 rooms to recharge. You can sometimes get clever combos going, but it’s mostly panic button stuff.

What ends up being frustrating though, is how the game sorta becomes more of a Press Your Luck game than roguelike. Your accumulated resources carry over to each new floor, so there is always a tension between placing defenses (which cost Industry) to be extra safe, and/or just going for the exit, and/or opening a few more rooms to get some more resources/items. You can sometimes get screwed going the extra mile with Binding of Isaac or FTL encounters, but for the most part your twitch gameplay skills can save you. With Dungeon of the Endless though, there is a thin margin between being okay and getting slaughtered. Since everything is practically automated – you cannot choose which alien your characters shoot at – there isn’t much you can do when you get a gang of suicide enemies amongst cannon fodder or tanky enemies.

Hell, I’ve played the game for 10 hours now and I don’t know what the suicide enemies look like. This is definitely one of the those “discover on your own look up everything in the Wiki” games.

I dunno. I may play a little bit more to see if I’m just not grokking the experience. With Binding of Isaac and especially FTL, getting that “Aha!” moment was both sudden and mind-blowing in terms of how much further I could go. I’m not sure the same is possible here, but we’ll see.

——-

Since writing the above, I played for another 5-10 hours and my conclusions are basically the same. I feel like I understand the essential essence of the game… but there isn’t anything I can do when things like this happen:

DotE_2

Oh, hey, I lost the dice roll four times in a row.

Opened 23 doors, still didn’t discover the randomly placed exit. GG. Since monster waves get worse and worse the more doors you open, there was literally nothing I could have done here. Other than chose to go south and west first, back when my map was blank.

Play perfectly and still get randomly screwed? Yeah, welcome to roguelikes. But in most other ones, I feel like you have room to improve your own skills. In this instance, my RNG was the only meaningful skill I was lacking.

This game is definitely going straight in my Steam graveyard category.

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Posted on May 17, 2016, in Impressions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Having read this, and on the subject of pure-RNG-screwings, I wonder what you would make of Darkest Dungeon.

    I am (almost certainly) about to complete the New Game+ limited-time mode, while raging against its heroes-as-disposable-resource design. It has become a bit of a grudge match past the point of actual fun, and probably my own best candidate for that coveted ‘played for a hundred hours, beat the game, not recommended’ review.

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    • Darkest Dungeon is definitely on my list, although when it came out of Early Access, all the negative press surrounding the Stress/Heart Attack/etc mechanic changes made me leery. I’m still kinda sorta waiting until it gets bundled with other things, although I see that it dips down to $9.99 on sale. Hmm.

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      • Darkest is far superior to Dungeon of the Endless, although IMO they really aren’t even remotely similar other than having some RNG aspects.

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  2. For Dungeon of the Endless, I’m not sure you can ever lose due to pure RNG, at least not a few levels into it (and I don’t think the RNG can be so bad that you die in the first few levels as they are always pretty easy), because as you mentioned, so many decisions are made per level, that ultimately if you fail on a harder floor, there is likely something that could have been done on an earlier floor to put you in a better position.

    I will agree that to learn all of that in DotE takes a while, if for no other reason than because there is SO MUCH to consider (party makeup, items to equip, towers to build, upgrades, etc). My main issue with it was that once you do master it, it very quickly becomes trivial, in part because of how much control you have (min/maxing a party is a massive power boost).

    It also didn’t feel super rewarding to play it once I beat it initially. Moving up in difficulty was only mildly interesting, as was playing different characters, and it all combined wasn’t enough to justify playing over and over again. That said I played it enough to feel ok with the purchase, and I’m not a huge roguelike fan. (Also playing the title is cool background to playing Endless Legend, as they share the same setting)

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