How I Learned to Love Failure With Dungeon of the Endless

If at first you don’t succeed, fail, fail again

Key Takeaways

  • Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee brings the iconic gameplay of the original title to mobile devices.
  • While not completely flawless, Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee offers a challenging and refreshing experience.
  • Every failure feels like another step to success, and even though you rarely win, there’s something that keeps pulling you back in.
Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee's game over screen on mobile

After several grueling minutes of exploring dark rooms and almost biting the dust, I’ve finally found the way out. I send my strongest character back for the Crystal—a mysterious item needed to escape—leaving the others to wait at the doorway to the next level. That was my last mistake. In a matter of moments, my entire team is decimated and I’m left staring, mouth agape, at the game over screen.

Often known for their extreme difficulty and permadeath features, games like Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee are brutal, forcing you to die again and again as you push towards your overall goal.

In Apogee, players must clear out rooms, build various upgrades, and find the exit. Once found, you’ll have to make your way back to the start of the level, grab the Crystal, then escort it to the end. The problem, though, is that picking up the Crystal causes almost every enemy in the level to respawn, leaving that once clear path now teeming with things that want to kill you.

Scarred, but Beautiful

Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee succeeds when you fail. The game’s entire goal is to push you to the limit, forcing you to replay levels again and again as you delve further into the labyrinth that developer Amplitude Studios has created.

Apogee, which is essentially a mobile version of the original game released on PC in 2014, brings the best of that title right to the palm of your hand. It’s a transition that—while not flawless—does a good job putting everything in front of you.

Exploration in Apogee is simple, often only requiring you to tap the character you want to move, then tapping the room you want to move to. You also can tap various doors to open them, and this all works together to create a good flow of movement as you explore each dungeon level. Auto-attack is also a key feature, meaning you don’t have to worry about balancing complex combinations of attacks.

It’s also exceptionally easy to jump into a game, and because of the stylistic and retro-looking graphics, it never pushes your phone to the point of feeling like you touched your hand against a hot stove.

Bumps and Bruises

There are a couple of glitches in the mainframe, though. For one, the game’s text is abysmally small, often making it hard to read. This isn’t too much of a problem once you know where everything is, but it can still be annoying when you’re trying to keep track of how much health your party members have, or you’re trying to read important pop-up messages. Luckily, this isn’t a game that requires a lot of reading, so you won’t have to worry about it once you’re in and exploring the various levels.

Dungeon of the Endless—exploring the labyrinth gameplay

One of the main gameplay elements in Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee is powering up rooms using a material called Dust. You can build turrets, factories that make food, and other little gadgets, but you never have enough Dust to power every room. This means a lot of rooms are left in the original dark state you found them in, allowing enemies to randomly reappear throughout your playthrough. 

Unfortunately, the game’s brightness levels can be very difficult to work through. Some rooms, I often couldn’t see anything, as the game just wasn’t bright enough to show what was happening. This can lead to some frustrating defeats, especially in more difficult rooms. Much like the text problem, it’s something you get used to, but it always manages to crop back up while playing.

Success With Every Failure

Despite its flaws, Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee is a great port. Small text and dark rooms are things you can work around along the way, and they don’t completely mar the overall experience.

Being able to pull my phone out and hop into the labyrinth is exceptionally enticing, and over the past several days, I’ve found myself turning to the game instead of other apps I’d browse during my downtime. Every failure is a chance to succeed the next time, and Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee manages to capture the spirit of that idea perfectly.

Dungeon of the Endless—exploring the labyrinth tutorial gameplay

If you’re tired of doom scrolling Twitter and TikTok, and you want to try a game that will challenge you and celebrate your failures (in a good way), then I recommend picking up Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee on Android or iOS. The replay-ability is perfect for quick dives into the game, and no matter how bad you are at it, you’ll always find new reasons to pat yourself on the back, something we could all use a bit more of.

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