How Endless Dungeon spices up the roguelike formula

Developer Amplitude is fusing unique gameplay twists with slick space cowboy vibes to help Endless Dungeon carve out its own niche.
Endless Dungeon key art

Rougelite video games have exploded in popularity over the last decade, and for good reason. Their run-based nature, which sees most of your progress lost upon death, keeps the stakes high and pushes you to the edge of your seat every time you play. Their stages are also usually procedurally generated, making each playthrough feel new, and the best of them have great hooks that keep you itching to have just one more turn – you can do better this time, you’re sure of it.

Endless Dungeon is the latest high-profile entry into the genre, developed by Amplitude Studios, a French developer that definitely knows a lot about crafting moreish gameplay. Amplitude previously developed the critically acclaimed strategy games Endless Legend and Endless Space, and Endless Dungeon is a significant expansion on the action-oriented ideas they began exploring in Dungeon of the Endless.

Releasing on 19 October 2023 for PC and all current-generation console platforms, Endless Dungeon features a unique blend of the frenetic action found in arcade-style, twin-stick shooters, with elements of tower defence games to incorporate a satisfyingly cerebral element, on a map that changes every time. 

It’s all wrapped up in a wonderful, far-future space Western style adventure, with sleazy guitars on the soundtrack, robot cowboys, and tough-as-nails space marine types. But Endless Dungeon also happens to take place in Amplitude’s wider Endless universe, which mixes a range of sci-fi and fantasy tropes, and imagines them through the ages. If you’ve played Legend or Space, you might get a kick out of how certain elements have transferred across. (Not Humankind, though. That was all just based on real human history. Endless Dungeon is not based on real human history.)

A typical run in Endless Dungeon works like this: You put together a squad of three characters (chosen out of a roster of eight) and enter a creepy abandoned space station, where you have to escort a Crystal Bot through each procedurally generated floor of the station. As you explore and fight your way through the floors, swarms of aliens will attempt to attack the bot – and if they succeed, the bot explodes, and you all die.

So, you’ll need to cover all flanks and protect the bot with your character’s abilities and weapons. Elemental damage and enemy weaknesses play a big factor in how effective you are, and you can also construct turrets to help stave off the waves, and give yourself a bit of breathing room. As you slowly inch towards success, you’ll find rooms with resources that will keep your squad in good shape, upgrade the Crystal Bot to provide a variety of abilities, and build more turrets. 

Of course, not all is lost if you die on a run – your characters will return to the ship’s hub, a Saloon (of course), where you can use certain resources to upgrade your weapons, character abilities, and squad makeup before diving back in for another crack. 

We had a great time playing a few runs of the game in single-player, which lets you order around your squadmates, and treat it as more of a team-based tactics game. But Endless Dungeon also features three-player cooperative play for that real Aliens or Starship Troopers vibe, and the game was apparently designed with multiplayer in mind, after the positive response for the mode in Dungeon of the Endless. 

It’s pretty easy to imagine how entertaining it can be, backed into a corner of the space station, chainguns and turrets blazing, with relentless waves of aliens getting closer and closer as you and your squad have a minor freakout over Discord. 

Like all good roguelite games, Amplitude has also been iterating on the development of Endless Dungeon with its community – not through Steam Early Access (although, did you know that Amplitude’s Endless Space was the very first game to do Steam Early Access?) – but through Sega’s OpenDev program, where groups of players were brought in to test various portions of the game and provide feedback, as well a broader Closed Beta, and an ongoing insiders program.

It’s always nice to see a developer not just sticking to making what they know, but continuing to push themselves. With two big, different strategy games under its belt, Endless Dungeon feels like Amplitude’s big chance to let loose. It’s got a great vibe, a moreish loop so far, and we’re looking forward to seeing how the game plays out in full, and evolves post-launch.

Endless Dungeon releases for PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One on 19 October 2023. A Nintendo Switch release is planned for a future date.