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Dungeon of the Endless: The Multiplayer Challenge

December 11, 2015

Dear Reader,

We’ve talked about Dungeon of the Endless before, but we’ve never talked about it in detail.  Today, I’d like to do that as well as talk a little about how multiplayer has enriched the game, rather than simply replacing content as it does in so many triple-A titles.

Dungeon of the Endless, or DotE as my buddy and I call it, is a genre-mashing game that combines real-time strategy, tower defense, rogue-like design, and RPG elements into a single game.  It’s hard to describe the game play, but essentially you protect your characters and a ship’s energy core while exploring a level of ever-increasing danger with every room you open.

The game progresses by “opening doors”; each room is its own unique package of death and destruction, and the only way to survive is to build resource-generating structures which require power and generate their resources every time you open a door.  Additionally, you must build defensive and offensive structures to protect yourself and the resource machines which themselves consume resources and require power.

But you won’t have enough power to keep every room lit, and every room that’s not powered may spawn monsters every time you open a door.

So the game becomes a balancing act between powering rooms to generate needed resources and powering rooms to defend yourself and those resources.  Generate too few resources and you won’t be able to build anything at all.  Build too few defenses and you’ll be overwhelmed by monsters from your unpowered rooms.  It creates a great tension between planning and chance, defense and offense.

Add in that each floor is randomly designed, two of the four characters in your party are randomly found, and the gear is randomly distributed – the rogue-like portion of the game – and you have a great mix of genres that keeps the player entertained and perpetually in danger.

Multiplayer adds to that mix.  In the single-player game, you end up controlling 4 different characters in real time, so the game enables a pause function; you can hit the space bar, survey your surroundings, and give individual commands.

Not so in the multiplayer; you’re controlling less characters (often two at a time, but one of those two may be providing passive support by working a machine to generate extra resources) so there’s no pause function.  You just have to make do.  That makes the opening of each door a tense moment: in a few seconds, your whole party may be dead with only a combination of your own errors and a bad luck to blame.

Still, I prefer the multiplayer to the single player because it allows me to discuss strategy with another person.  It seems the early strategy I read and adopted which has constantly left me lacking resources at later floors was simply bad information.  The new strategies employed by my buddy seem to go much better, and yet there are times where my earlier experience with the game gives me a gut feeling that (I feel) often proves to be true.  Of course, that “earlier” experience has LONG SINCE been overshadowed; my buddy likes the game so much he’s put in 4x as many hours since he started than I’ve played total.  We’ll see if my gut feelings still hold sway in the face of the massive investment of time on his part.

Regardless, it’s a great, unique game that offers a ton of replayability due to its rogue-like nature, a ton of great critical-thinking and problem solving opportunities, and deep resource management and leveling systems.  I heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys trying something new.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (still haven’t beaten the game on normal)

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