In these days of AAA blockbuster explosions, I’ve been captivated by a recently released game.
Not only can you and your friends wield machine guns and shotguns to wreak havoc together, but you also have to search for the key to breaking the insect horde’s oppression. This gameplay experience, which is both thrilling and requires a calm mind, is rarely seen in a tower defense game like “Endless Dungeon.”
Speaking of “Endless Dungeon,” it’s not an unfamiliar game.
As early as 2014, its predecessor, also named “Endless Dungeon,” was released on Steam. Although the game’s quality was good, it didn’t gain much attention in China because it lacked Chinese localization. However, in the years leading up to the sequel’s development, the development team released several test experiences, and many players have likely already experienced the beta version.
Now, after a considerable amount of polishing, the content of “Endless Dungeon” has become even more refined.
Adventurers Struggling to Survive in the Endless Dungeon
The game’s story takes place in a mysterious abandoned space station. Here, space adventurers find themselves in a strange loop: whenever they die during the exploration of the space station, they respawn in the station’s lounge. In this repetitive cycle of trying to explore the space station, they must constantly search for a way to escape.
For these adventurers, this space station is undoubtedly an “endless dungeon.”
As one of the adventurers, players are also trapped here. We need to form a team to venture deep into the space station to repair the core and escape while protecting the crystal from wave after wave of monsters.
The game initially provides two hero characters, the defensive-minded Janitor and the damage-dealing character Zedo. As the game progresses, more characters with their own characteristics and skills are gradually unlocked.
Each hero has a fixed ability and an ultimate ability that can be used. For example, you can place a highly damaging mine or a large area slow-down detergent. In later stages of the game, you can continuously upgrade these heroes’ abilities and add devices to make them stronger.
A Blend of Rogue and Tower Defense
As a tower defense game with Rogue elements, “Endless Dungeon’s” level logic is similar to “Hades.” The maps are procedurally generated, and players must fight through a series of randomly arranged rooms.
For example, some rooms may be filled with enemies, but successfully completing the challenge will yield random currency and resources. Entering certain rooms triggers various events, which can include health-restoring medical devices, resource-producing fabricators, encounters with shopkeepers selling items or firearms, or even just a simple treasure chest.
Because each playthrough features a different map layout, traditional tower defense strategies may not always apply. You can’t memorize the map, and you can’t predict where the next wave of monsters will come from.
Fortunately, in the early stages of the game, the number of rooms in each small session is limited, allowing us to quickly identify room layouts and plan the placement of turrets and defensive zones.
While exploring the map, enemies will periodically advance toward the crystal. Therefore, you need to build defensive turrets at various turret points on the map. These turrets come in various types, such as attack, slowing, and enhancing, each with its own elemental properties.
Building and upgrading turrets require resources. Resources in the game are divided into three categories: food, industry, and technology. Specifically, industry points are used to upgrade technology and build defense turrets, food is used for character upgrades and maintenance, and technology points are used for character and defense turret skill development and upgrades.
These resources are obtained through the exploration of the space station. When exploring the map, opening a door automatically grants these three types of resources. Opening chests and breaking small boxes on the map also yields a small amount of resources. Additionally, when you encounter a resource generator during exploration, you can choose one of the three resources to receive a bonus, allowing you to gain more of that resource each time you open a door.
As the game progresses, you will unlock different sectors within the space station. Each sector has its own unique style, such as the Interstellar Port, which has a futuristic and technological feel, or the Hidden Zen Garden, which resembles a small tropical rainforest.
Similarly, each sector features monsters with different characteristics, and the methods to deal with them vary as well. For example, the insectoid enemies are fast and numerous but are weak to fire, while robots have weak resistance to electric elements.
The variety of maps and monster designs requires us to use different heroes, select weapons with different attributes, and build tower defenses to adapt to different situations. In these aspects, “Endless Dungeon” successfully maintains the strategic elements of tower defense games.
Escaping the dungeon is no easy task
The game’s difficulty comes not only from the number and quality of the monsters but also from the fact that opening doors can change the direction of enemy attacks, and newly discovered monster nests can become unexpected spawning points, posing a constant threat to the crystal from an unprepared direction.
Meanwhile, both building turrets and upgrading characters in the game, among other actions, revolve around specific nodes within rooms. The enemies that attack are not limited to threatening the crystal but also continually assault map nodes, which are similar to resource generators.
The unpredictability of the map often leads to moments where we must prioritize one situation over another. Once we disturb an unexpected monster nest, the game’s difficulty sharply rises, and quick and frantic actions become necessary.
Another unique design in “Endless Dungeon” is that defense positions can change.
In traditional tower defense games, the core position that needs defending is usually fixed. Players allocate firepower based on the distribution of enemy forces, efficiently allocating their defense resources.
This is another major challenge in “Endless Dungeon –” defense positions change.
In the game, when players find the door to the next level and click to open it, the core crystal starts moving slowly. While the crystal is in motion, players must face a tide of incoming enemies until the crystal reaches its destination.
What makes this even more challenging is that due to the Rogue nature of the game, the route of the crystal’s movement changes entirely with each small session. The turrets built in the earlier stages of the game often struggle to be effective during later movement phases. Additionally, once turrets are built, they cannot be dismantled to reclaim resources, and we cannot change the defense focus on the fly.
As you explore deeper into the game, the map’s areas become larger, and the final movement routes become more complex. The intensity and quantity of enemies encountered increase, and the variety of enemy types also expands, making the game progressively more challenging.
In such situations, players must rely on the power of their hero characters. Controlling them to go to the hubs of the clearance routes for an exhilarating battle. The game’s smooth shooting mechanics, a wide variety of weapons and skills, and stylish combat visuals provide a unique combat experience.
However, if you only focus on action shooting in “Endless Dungeon,” it’s challenging to progress far in the harsh dungeon. Similarly, if you only play the tower defense strategy and neglect the action, you won’t be able to advance either. Players need to continuously battle in different areas, respawn in the space lounge, accumulate experience, collect resources, unlock facilities, strengthen hero attributes, and upgrade weapon strength to gradually explore the entire space station.
In conclusion, “Endless Dungeon” seamlessly combines Rogue, tower defense, and action shooting, and players will notice that every strategic decision and action they make has a significant impact on the game’s progress. It requires careful consideration to succeed.
However, compared to the tension of single-player mode, the multiplayer mode offers a more relaxed gaming experience. In single-player mode, AI-controlled teammates are often just followers who run behind the player, while in multiplayer mode, player cooperation can maximize the team’s numerical advantage. Properly planning each person’s defensive zones, leveraging each character’s strengths, and coordinating with turrets can lead to a satisfying experience.
In reality, Rogue and tower defense are gameplay styles that every player is familiar with, but when they interact with new game designs, they can still offer a fresh experience. Although I’ve played dozens of tower defense games, from PC to mobile platforms, as a tower defense game enthusiast, “Endless Dungeon” still manages to provide a unique experience within the traditional gaming framework.