There are currently 3,946 games with the "roguelike" tag on Steam, but I don't think there's a single one quite like Dungeon of the Endless. If there is I certainly haven't played it, and that's pretty remarkable considering just how saturated this genre has become in just the last decade. Dungeon of the Endless's hook is that it's a little bit RPG, a little bit strategy game, and very much a tower defense game, with the randomization of a roguelike to keep it interesting.
I can't tell you how many Sunday mornings I've lost to co-op sessions of this game—for quite a few years it was a game that a friend and I would drop four hours into on a whim and I never regretted it once. It's been dirt cheap in plenty of Steam sales over the years, but if you've never bought it, you're in luck now, because it's free to keep on Steam until July 27th.
Developer Amplitude Studios (the same folks behind excellent 4X strategy games Endless Space and Endless Legend) have actually been working on a sequel to Dungeon of the Endless. While the original wasn't a big hit initially, it seems like it's kept selling over the years, and even done well enough to eventually get ported to the PS4 and Nintendo Switch. The name of the sequel, Endless Dungeon, is certainly on-brand but kinda makes it sound like a remake of Dungeon of the Endless. It's not, though, and ditches the unique pacing and great pixel art of the original.
The new Endless Dungeon looks like a fun but more conventional action roguelike, whereas the original is much more about strategy. Each room you discover as you progress through the dungeon has nodes on which you can place various towers to collect resources and defend against the hordes of enemies that come your way. Enemies only have a chance to spawn when you open doors, so you control the pace of planning and action. Your character automatically attacks enemies that come close, so your only direct input in combat is triggering specific skills or clicking frantically in another room to GTFO if you're taking too much damage.
It's a strange but really fun mix, where you're mostly planning and then watching the action play out, but sometimes still have to be really engaged—especially at the end of each floor, when you have to task one character with slowly carrying your precious power crystal to the exit while enemies continuously stream in behind you. Progression between floors is satisfying, too, as you find gear for your characters, meet new survivors to recruit to your party and unlock more powerful versions of the defensive towers.
Over the years Amplitude added a whole bunch of characters to Dungeon of the Endless with unique abilities, and most of the DLC is free, making it an even better, deeper game than it was when we reviewed it. One of the updates even adds TF2 characters like Engineer and Heavy to the game, and they're a lot of fun. It's a weird, unlikely crossover but it works, and it's particularly fun seeing those TF2 characters rendered in this pixel art style.
I'm looking forward to Endless Dungeon, which is out in October, but I don't think it'll grab me the same way Dungeon of the Endless did. Even though it's nine years old I'd happy recommend it to anyone today, especially for free.