Endless Dungeon

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Endless Dungeon (Nintendo Switch) – Review

There’s nothing like a tale of an unlikely hero swooping in and saving the day or in this case, sweeping in to save the day. As is the case with Sweeper, the unsuspecting janitor we meet in the opening cutscene of ‘Endless Dungeon’, the newest entry into the Endless series by Amplitude Studios and published by SEGA.

Endless Dungeon is a sci-fi, twin-stick rogue-lite shooter with elements of tower defence, except the tower in this instance is an abandoned space station built by a race called, you guessed it, the Endless. This entry is a successor to Dungeon of the Endless (2014) and takes it up several notches with massively overhauled graphics, modernised gameplay, and brand-new characters. This time around, solo or online co-op, our heroes must brave the space station’s unwanted invaders, get to ‘The Core’ of the ship, and escape in one piece.

The isometric view of the station is a sight to behold, spaces are ambiently lit with vibrant colours balanced out with a nice amount of darkness to balance it all out. Characters are unique and stylised and fit into different sci-fi and Western archetypes in the best way possible. Each stage is procedurally generated with some areas having little to no light, smatterings of fire, or acid of which there are enemy types that match up.

Sometimes the mashup of isometric and the bug-like enemies reminded me of ‘Alien Swarm’, ‘Helldivers’, and ‘Starship Troopers’, all great reference points for a sci-fi title. The opening cutscene was a great way to blast off with awesome art in an animated comic style. To top it off the “galactic western” music, fun character voice-written dialogue and great sound queues made Endless Dungeon feel incredibly polished and engaging from the moment I booted up the campaign.

What I like to call the clean-up crew consists of a total of 8 characters, three of which are unlocked while the others become available through progression. Each has its own active, passive and ultimate abilities and ranges from speedy shooters to tanks and support. For instance, Sweeper can slow and knock down enemies, Bunker can taunt enemies and deal damage proportionate to sustained damage and Shroom is an adorable mortician and the sole healer of the crew.

Upon arriving at the station, my reluctant champion Sweeper encounters Zed, a high-damage tank and mentor during my first outing, a pretty basic tutorial. I quickly learned how to swap out my mop for a gun to prepare for the onslaught of alien baddies heading our way. Thankfully, aliens spawn in waves with a decent chunk of time to prepare though activating certain doors or machines prompts the next influx. The goal is to defend a small spider-like robot called a Crystal Bot and get it moving toward the next area with the ultimate mission of reaching The Core.

Various guns can be found in the station each with different fire rates and elemental affinities to exploit those pesky bugs and bot’s weaknesses. Just guns are not enough against the hordes, instead, placing turrets and assorted offensive turrets crucial to fortify your defences. To make the most of the tools at your disposal resources can be generated at particular consoles and by activating doors, these include Food, for health and assorted buffs, Industry to activate turrets and boost resources gained by opening doors, and Science for upgrades to research new fortifications.

Team composition makes a huge difference too, I found a solo run with 2 heavies – Zed and Bunker ultimately led to my doom for their slow fire rates while a party with a speedy boy like Sweeper, a tank and Shroom the healer worked wonders.

While building up reasonable protection seems doable in the enclosed corridors, the real enemy for me was doors. Opening doors not only yields rewards but may yield consequences, maybe there’s the mysterious merchant? Or perhaps a gun-loaded chest? If you’re really unlucky, there may be some creatures lurking on the other side prompting a wave. Exploration is key to finding the way out, but at a cost, every door opened risks more entry points for enemies to spawn through.

The fear of the unknown of what lies beyond the door plagued my delicate mind and presented a hefty challenge, to guard the bot and keep my research stations from getting destroyed. When a heap of little red dots popped up on my radar I knew I was in for a fight. Enemies approach fast and in densely packed groups in the incredibly small corridors, so strategically opening doors is a massive saving grace if a choke point can be established. Escorting Crystal Bot through them and ensuring your team and the bot don’t get annihilated is tough but thrilling.

Death isn’t the end thankfully, defeat will return the team to The Saloon, a swanky space base complete with a stage, fully stocked bar, and allies, many of which become playable characters. Until then, they act as vendors for permanent upgrades to heroes and additional unlocks, currency is accumulated by performing certain tasks for each squadmate.

Any guns obtained on runs and additional resources are lost on death. It never feels overly punishing and time lost never felt like too much after defeat. On occasion, it could tend to feel repetitive with limited gameplay variation and slow progress depending on skill. It took me some time to really master the art of defence, so the early stages took longer than I would like. Most of the time my urge to regroup and try again trumped this though.

The whole game can be tackled solo with the player being able to freely switch between characters. The AI character can be commanded to defend the bot, stay, or follow. They often held their own, did a good job of crowd control and it didn’t feel overly different to playing with another person as far as capability went, they would use all the tools in their arsenal. At the click of a button, I could alternate characters if I wanted to mix it up. It was great fun solo but I can much more see myself playing Endless Dungeon with others.

You can enlist a team of up to 3 players for online co-op, unfortunately, there’s no local co-op or crossplay. Fortunately, though, there’s plenty of fun to be had with online friends and still plenty of challenges, though it wouldn’t hurt to have one of those support-type friends to take Shroom for heals on the go. You’ll need all the support you can get, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by enemies once multiple spawn points are opened up but nothing a few well-placed turrets and buffs can’t fix.

Controls are easy to adjust to, aiming with the mouse and using twin sticks on the controller are responsive, and with auto-aim on, pointing and shooting is easy as click click boom. For players who want more challenge, auto-aim can be toggled off, along with plenty of other customisable controls. My favourite addition is a simple button press to teleport back to the bot, simple but incredibly useful.

Performance was fairly stable at max settings with ray tracing on, at 1080p I had consistently high framerates and virtually no dips under 60fps (tested on RTX 4080). For less tanky systems, it should run well with some setting tweaks with the sheer volume of customisable graphic settings.

Endless Dungeon is an epic sci-fi, western fusion with a whole bunch of ideas jumbled into one but it somehow works. While it takes a while to pick up momentum in gameplay, the worldbuilding, visuals, audio, and mechanics are stellar. I’ll keep returning to the space station again and again, even if it kills me.

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The Good

  • Great for co-op and solo play
  • Great visuals and audio
  • Satisfying combat and gameplay loop
  • Stable performance on PC

The Bad

  • Runs can get samey and repetitive
  • Slow progression for unlocks
  • Can be overwhelming solo

Written by: Yasmin Noble


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