Dungeon of the Endless Early Access Review

What's behind door number three?

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GameSpot's early access reviews evaluate unfinished games that are nonetheless available for purchase by the public. While the games in question are not considered finished by their creators, you may still devote money, time, and bandwidth for the privilege of playing them before they are complete. The review below critiques a work in progress, and represents a snapshot of the game at the time of the review's publication.

Your journey begins with the destruction of the spaceship Success. You see the Success crawl across the top of the screen, an homage to Star War's opening scene, as it takes fire from an unknown assailant. The crew manifest in the bottom right corner of the screen tells you that all 355 passengers are safe--but then that number drops to 354. And then to 353, 352, 351. The attack is taking its toll. Suddenly, a massive explosion rips through the center of the Success, and that number takes a nosedive.

In a last-ditch effort, 14 passengers scramble aboard a lifepod and vacate the doomed starship. However, for reasons unknown, that number too begins to drop as the lifepod descends through a nearby planet's atmosphere. When the pod finally hits planetside, only two of the Success' 355 passengers remain. Those two are yours to guide through a monster-filled labyrinth of rooms and corridors. Their destination is unknown. Their journey could be endless.

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In its current state, Dungeon of the Endless is an interesting mix of gaming styles. It's a roguelike at heart--complete with all the permadeath and randomized dungeons you'd expect from games such as Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac--but with hints of turn-based strategy and tower defense as well. Your two survivors are randomly selected each time you play, and together they must search the dungeon's many rooms for an exit. Each room is blocked off by a door, and every door opens at your command. But you have no way of knowing what is on the other side. The room could be filled with food, or money, or maybe a friendly merchant. Most often, however, it's full of aliens. Hostile aliens.

Your survivors automatically fight any hostile aliens they're currently sharing a room with, meaning you do not have direct control over the fight. You can influence the outcome by healing your survivors or activating their special abilities, but they handle the actual fighting. As you explore more rooms--and open more doors--these encounters can quickly become deadly. When you open a door, there is a chance aliens could appear in a room you have previously explored. If you're not careful, you could easily find yourself fending off five groups of enemies at once. Thankfully, enemies cannot open doors themselves, so by playing smart, you can funnel your foes down a single route. And, of course, this route is filled with explosives and laser beams.

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These traps are built using resources earned as you explore. Your heroes can build machines that grant them food, which is used for leveling up, and supplies, which are used for building traps, every time they open a door. Finding a balance between strengthening your character and building more traps is an enjoyable challenge that changes from one room to the next. Perhaps you find a rare sword for your bounty hunter and decide to build her into a high-level killing machine, or you uncover blueprints for a new type of trap and build a panic room filled with traps. Whatever you choose, you eventually discover the exit leading to the next floor of the dungeon, and the search begins anew. Well, either that or you die.

At $12.99 on Steam, Dungeon of the Endless already has a lot to explore. The different configurations of survivors, items you find, and even the layouts of dungeon floors combine to make no two sessions exactly alike. It's a challenging game, but its challenge lies in strategic thinking and planning. Your survivors take care of the moment-to-moment combat, so you don't need super quick reflexes to succeed. As of alpha version 0.1.16, Dungeon of the Endless an intriguing hybrid of genres that is sure to keep improving with time.

What's There?A challenging roguelike that combines different styles of gaming into a distinct whole that is fun to revisit time and again.

What's to Come?

New resources, areas, and skills. The team is working to expand what they already have, and make sure it's all equally balanced.

What Does It Cost?

$12.99, available via Steam.

When Will It Be Finished?

Developer Amplitude Studios has yet to announce a target date for when it may consider the game to be "released."

What's the Verdict?

Recommended. Dungeon of the Endless is already an enjoyable game that successfully mixes several styles of gaming into a distinct whole.

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