Apparently roguelike spinoffs of sci-fi strategy games are a thing now.
Earlier in the year, we saw Sword of the Stars: The Pit, a top-down roguelike spinoff to Kerberos' troubled 4X sci-fi strategy game series, and now we have Dungeon of the Endless too -- Amplitude Studios' spinoff to its recent 4X "Civ in space" game Endless Space.
Actually, the switch between genres for these types of game isn't all that surprising when you consider how many elements strategy games and roguelikes have in common. Both are usually turn-based, for starters, and both have a heavy emphasis on behind-the-scenes number-crunching for combat and other mechanics. Both are also designed to be played over and over rather than beaten once, and both make use of a system of procedural generation whenever you start a new game, meaning each game will be different from the last.
Dungeon of the Endless is a little different from your regular old roguelike, though, in that it's not just a simple case of delving into a dungeon and attempting to get as deep as possible before expiring horribly. Nope, this time around you're not only exploring the dungeon, but you're also tasked with protecting a central location -- the power generator for your crashed ship.
The concept of the game sees a prison ship heading to a seemingly abandoned planet for its inmates to begin their life of slave labor, only to discover that the planet was a former colony of the mysterious "Endless," and its cloaked orbital planetary defense system was very much intact. The prison ship is shot down, but the cell blocks doubled as escape pods and managed to save the ship's population from death. Unfortunately, they found themselves crashed into the sub-basement of an Endless facility, and must now find their way out.
The alpha is somewhat limited in scope from what Amplitude hopes the final game will incorporate, offering only three levels out of what will eventually become 12, and a lot of missing features. In the eventual version, you'll have a cast of heroes to play with, technologies to discover and research, resources to collect, and potentially even a multiplayer cooperative mode. The game is fully playable right now and seems to have been well-received by the community on Steam so far, but it's worth bearing in mind that buying in now does not necessarily reflect what the final product will end up like.
This is not the first time Amplitude has adopted this business model for its games -- Endless Space was developed in much the same way, with preorder customers able to purchase, download and play early versions of the game during development. Amplitude runs a system called "Games2Gether," whereby its Early Access customers are able to influence development decisions by voting on various questions and posting suggestions -- those who backed the project for more money will find their votes carrying greater weight in this process. The system worked extremely well for Endless Space, helping to refine the game over time into a slick, polished, enjoyable and unconventional take on the 4X strategy game genre; it looks as if Dungeon of the Endless is set to do something similar for the roguelike genre.
Have you tried it yet? Let us know your thoughts if you've given it a shot.