Dwarf Fortitude: Endeavor

By Quintin Smith on December 3rd, 2010 at 10:33 am.

This is excellent. Courtesy of the IndieGames blog, Endeavor is an adventure-platformer that tasks you with recovering your tiny dwarf’s family inheritance from the comfort of your web browser, except your dwarf’s journey goes “a bit wrong” very quickly indeed. The platforming itself is dainty and robust, and the dialogue is adorable, but the real allure is provided by the game’s Metroidvania exploration. There’s a bit of nonlinearity in here, and the game’s finale is affected by your actions, so I’ll just give you one piece of advice- be kind, babies, be kind. Now go play. You’re looking at a good 45 minutes from start to finish, but (in the manner of most flash games these days) it’ll save your progress in your browser’s cache if you close the page.

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68 Comments »

  1. Garrett says:

    Why can’t I slide on the walls?

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Because Meat Boy is having a bad day and is a dwarf.

    • K says:

      Platforming will never be the same again.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Would it be overly obnoxious here to start banging on about how platforming has had wallslides since* Megaman X ,and entreating that you kids kindly remove yourselves from my lawn?

      * at least, for that someone, somewhere, with the big nose, who knows.

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      Malcolm says:

      I hate wall sliding, regardless of where it originated – I find it non-intuitive and frustrating. Bah humbug.

    • K says:

      I cannot help but notice that Megaman X is not actually old at all, nor did it have wallslides as gracious as Meatboy does. I’ve got my own lawn over here, I have to say. And it’s 8 bit only.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Also, indie game Knytt Stories made by Nifflas has wall sliding, and that game is at least 3 years old.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fitbzt7FQDY

      skip to about 2 minutes in to see what I’m talking about. There might be other videos on youtube that show it better, but I’m not going to go digging for hours finding them.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      @ K: Megaman X isn’t old? That game was on the SNES. Unless wall sliding didn’t occur until way later in the series. It’s been years since I played Megaman X so I don’t remember.

    • TWeaK says:

      MegaMan X is indeed old, was on the SNES first and did indeed have wallsliding. It definitely had it as standard by MMX3, not sure in the first two as I only played those as rentals. I’m pretty sure they were in there as upgrades at least in the earlier games though.

      I still remember screaming in a store somewhere in Albuquerque, New Mexico ‘OMG IT’S WHITE MEGA MAN!!!!1′. I was hooked ever since, but never had a Playstation so missed out on many of the later games. Not that they were a patch on the first 3.

  2. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    I do not trust this creepy voice telling me to fetch crystals…

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      Sinomatic says:

      There’s also some seriously creepy background music at times.

    • Chris says:

      Is it Clancy Brown telling you about the slot over the door? ;-)

  3. DJ Phantoon says:

    Oh, right. Don’t click the edit button, the forummonster will eat the post, edit and all.

    Anyways, game is not even slightly fair. I got one of the endings, but since no one ever really tells you what’s going on, or even hints at anything…

    • Quintin Smith says:

      You know what else isn’t fair? LIFE. DEAL WITH IT.

      Actually, life’s worse. We all know how it ends already.

    • CMaster says:

      Hmm you see, I:

      SPOILER WARNING SPOLIER WARNING SPOILER WARNING SPOILER WARNING Ahh how long does this need to be to keep the spoiler off the side bar? Is it long enough yet? Is it spam yet?

      knew that collecting the gems was a bad idea. So obviously untrustworthy. However, I ended up accidentally gathering them all when collecting stuff to allow me to make my own way back home. That’s really rather irritating.

  4. Brumisator says:

    No meat, no deal.

  5. Alex Bakke says:

    This is great.

  6. Jhoosier says:

    The post title starts with “Dwarf Fort”, I immediately thought it was Dwarf Fortress.

    • Berzee says:

      Zounds, now that you mention it…I wonder why they didn’t think of that and remove this misleading similarity?

    • Web Cole says:

      Indeed, my heart also leapt for joy only to come plummeting back down to gray, dreary reality but a moment later.

      Ok, that was a bit over dramatic, but ye get the idea :P

    • MadTinkerer says:

      For a second I thought the pic was a particularly pretty DF tileset or something, then I read the title carefully.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Maelig says:

    That endurance bar system is pure genius, I want it in all my platform games from now on.

  8. Conor says:

    Amazing, amazing little thing. I don’t trust the creepy voice man, at all.

  9. MadTinkerer says:

    SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    TIP: when the dude asks you “do you really want to eat the fruit?” do it. It doesn’t negatively impact the ending, and the benefit is pretty nice.

    What I love is when you get the lightning power and the little dude advises you to go around killing people and feeding their souls to the dark ones or something like that. Reminds me of the Evil Temple in Fable I where you can start off super-good, get a ton of townspeople to follow you, and then sacrifice them at the Evil temple to switch right over to Super-Evil.

  10. Lilliput King says:

    I collected all the gems and then made my own way home, which was probably the worst of both worlds. The game doesn’t give you a save from before you collected all the gems, though, and I’m not going to play it again, so I’ll take what I got, I suppose.

  11. Ian says:

    What a bastard. Shame I totally can’t be arsed going through it again to play a different way.

    (I got the chest but had also got all the gems for it, my thinking it slightly creepy but for the wrong reasons and thus helping it like a putz.)

    So how do you make your own way home? Is it once you’ve got all the upgrades you go waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back to the left?

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      You need the jump upgrade, the parachute and the gloves. I think I didn’t have all upgrades when I did (therefore, I missed one somewhere). Then you can get the eternal youth (always full endurance) which helps since if you continue to the right and up, you can’t rest.

      I had all but two gems.. the jungle and volcano ones which I purposefully avoided. Victory is mine!

  12. Tomski says:

    *SPOILERS*

    Ok, so i collected all the gems and brought the bad guy back to life, oops. Did anyone get a different ending? I doubt im going to replay this to find out what it could be…

    • Premium User Badge

      Sinomatic says:

      I did the same (because somehow after having read this article I completely forgot that there were alternate ways of playing and just did what the big ominous voice told me to).

    • Rane2k says:

      I did the same as well and obviously the game went forth with “BWHAHAHAHAAH you did it all wrong FOOL!”, not going to bother with going through it all again, can someone spoil the “good” ending please?

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I got the good ending first because of the little hints lying around: when a little girl randomly points out that you don’t need to collect crystals and there is a way to get back up without them and there happens to be a wall WAY in the very west where it looks like you need just one more tool to keep going, I figured I should try grabbing all the tools and ignoring the crystals.

      Plus MALOR has a name in all capital letters, rhymes with balor, and sounds a bit like “malevolent”, “malicious”, “malcontent, etc. And his dialogue strongly hints that he’s Not Lying At All Maybe Omitting An Inconvenient Fact Or Ten But Would Never Lie To You.

      Anyway, once you grab the sword and head back down, you land on Malor’s platform, he tells you how disappointed he is because he could have given you a whole bunch of power and you totally wasted the opportunity, then the game informs you that the land is safe and can never be threatened by Malor again.

      There’s also another ending, where if you go around killing folks and eating their souls the dwarves back home are freaking out and begging you not to kill them. Then you can kill Malor like in the previous ending, but he mocks you and says that you have become worse than him. Then the text goes first-person and informs you how many you’ve killed and that you’ll stay in the underworld because you feel too guilty to return to the sky.

      Haven’t tried jumping over the sword and returning to Malor (without collecting every crystal and being “bloothirsty” or not) or collecting every crystal and then one of the other combination of possibilities, yet.

      By the way, it’s really easy to speedrun the game when you know where the gadgets you need are: flippers, gloves, and parachute, (I think the lightning may be optional to beat the game, but if you want the fruit of youth you’ll need the lightning) and just enough endurance to make that one long floating jump at the top of the west wall. If you’re going for the evil-rampage ending it’s really easy because each soul increases your endurance and you don’t even need fruit if you go on a killing spree.

    • Tomski says:

      Thanks for the info. I actually forgot the aim was to get back and get the sword out the box, so even though I had a good idea this voice wasn’t up to any good I still ran about collecting up everything.

    • pandora says:

      I actually knew all along I am behaving evil (and irrationally) by collecting the crystals, and got up all three ways before going all the way back to the chest. I guess it’s something one Sunday Papers’ article from some weeks ago got at – I just wanted to explore all the choices. Anyway, I’ve seen just one ending, but it seems the other are exactly as I suspected them to be.

      Still it was a fun hour with this game.

  13. fuggles says:

    SPOILERS

    SPOILERS

    SPOILERS

    LALALALALLALALALA

    LOOK AWAY NOW

    Seriously guys, after being told there is another way up by one blob and another small blob thing tell you to trust no-one, you all went for the voice? A dwarf endeavours; a slave obeys. To win properly you need the gloves, boots, parachute, lightning and a whole heap of endurance. Go left beyond the ice world and then climb a crap ton upwards. Jump right and umbrella and find the fruit of youth for infinite endurance and then make your way back home. Get the chest, approximately 6 inches from where you started and then you get told that the evil god MALOR is in the realm below, his essence imprisoned in some crystals which are kept apart by apocalyptic necessity. You then get a sword and fall down a million feet into the sarcophagus, killing Mumm-ra. At this point you are told that the world is safe “FOREVER, ENDEAVOUR”.

    The end. Spoilers over. phew!

    • Wilson says:

      -Spoilers-

      @fuggles – I didn’t realize where I was meant to go to get the chest, so I actually took both routes after getting all the gems. At that point I realized that I had done the wrong thing, but it was too late. I basically did what I was told because I can never tell the difference between games which give you a choice and games which act like you have a choice in the plot/speech but don’t actually give you one for narrative purposes. Basically, I didn’t want to ignore all the gems and then find out I had to get them all anyway because the game hadn’t accounted for someone doing that, so I just did what I was told. It’s a tricky problem in games, since you don’t want to blatantly signpost all the options the player has, but you also need to somehow set subtle boundaries so the player doesn’t waste their time trying to make a choice they can’t make.

  14. Jimmy says:

    I’m stuck in the jungle screen, what am I supposed to do here, do I need some form of equipment to continue, I have no clue how to get up, trying to use the parachute to glide sideways, but haven’t found a way up.

    • Chris says:

      Go over to the right (East). Find the girl telling you you don’t have to collect the crystals, then go beck and climb the first tree you come to. Parachute to the right for an endurance fruit. Parachute back onto the tree, then head left, parachuting all the way, until you come to a solid platform that you can head up to the canopy from.

      Er, if you want the gem that is. You might decide you don’t want to do that.

      (got the bad ending first, because all the characters seem to be saying trivial stuff, so DIDN’T LISTEN)

    • Jimmy says:

      @Chris
      Thanks

      Yeah I know, I had a feeling while collecting the gems that this ain’t gonna end well, so when I found the lightning skill I thought to heck with it and killed every creature on my way to the light :)

  15. mlaskus says:

    Do people still fall for the ominous voice telling you to do stuff? It seems that almost every puzzle game has one lately. It is getting rather old.

    • Wulf says:

      I’d have been more entertained if people had been angry about the disembodied voice being some friendly old sleeping dragon who was done a wrong and offers to fly the player home once having woken, and if you’re just distrustful of it, you’re left to languish in your jadedness. You can get close to returning home. So close. But you can never quite get there. That would’ve been something a bit more interesting.

      I can’t beat this game! I almost get to the top but I fall with the dwarf above me mocking me for being a twat!

    • Premium User Badge

      Sinomatic says:

      I didn’t fall for it (its hard not to notice that big ominous voice is big and ominous) as much as completely forget that I could actually do anything other than what was presented. I know there was other stuff going on – someone wanted a pearl (I never seemed to find them again), some guy wanted me to kill creatures (a little too obviously evil, which I avoided), and no matter how many bits of gear I found I didn’t see any way for me to make my own way back up.

      I should probably mention I’ve been in a total daze all day so having someone tell me what to do in nice big capital letters was probably the only way I was going to get to the end of the game.

      Besides, the deity ending is still a perfectly acceptable ending, its just not necessarily the one most people would naturally go for (at first). I was sort of hoping big ominous voice would turn out to be something akin to what Wulf mentioned – some large, benign force who carried me home on a rainbow – just to poke fun at our assumptions.

  16. Pani says:

    SPOY-LERS
    SPOY-LERS
    SPOY-LERS
    I knew that the omnipotent voice from above wasnt all he was cracked up to be, so I thought I’d collect all the gems, then I found out how to get up there manually without helping him (i.e. delivering the gems), making sure to avoid walking through the light. Shame I still played into his hands, how was I to know that when I picked them up, it automagically delivered them to him? Bugger.

  17. Zyrxil says:

    If this game were an episode of South Park, the voice would be Cartman talking to himself about his evil plan 2 feet away from Kyle.

  18. Chris K. says:

    I finished K.O.L.M. yesterday and liked it a great deal; with the similar “grab the loot to gain more powers” mechanic but more of a “Star Guard” control responsiveness and oooh retro feel. I hope the dev does more work in the same vein, and I hope RPS notices and posts about K.O.L.M.

  19. Rubbish Dave says:

    SPOILERS!

    Almost as soon as it started it had a quite strong Shadow of the Colossus vibe to it. The endurance, the collecting things for someone promising to help, and so on.

    So the fact that the voice wasn’t to be trusted was quite predictable.

  20. Wulf says:

    I really liked the gameplay, I wasn’t fussy on the plot. I wanted them to pull some surprise mindfarkery by having things work in reverse. Wherein if you get back by your own merits, you’re kind of screwed for being do distrusting and thinking of everything from ‘below’ as evil, but if you trust the ones from below, they help you tackle the tyrannical beings from above.

    Sooo… whilst I liked the gameplay, I felt more than a bit disappointed by the plot. With a more mind-bendy writer though, and a game twice as long, that would actually be something worth paying for. Yes, that’s how much I enjoyed it. I actually thought that pretty much every other thing about the game was clever, I just wish it hadn’t been so completely predictable.

    Right at the start… “Hmm, voice from below. Right, this is going to be an incredibly predictable affair and that’s going to be a trapped, sleeping demon or something, I suppose I’m to help the angels on high or whatnot. Blargh. It’s not like they’re actually going to make the voice trustworthy or anything, and have him chide most people for being distrustful and xenophobic.

    I didn’t feel particularly smug about being right, just disappointed. More disappointed because the gameplay is really, really good. I wish it hadn’t tried to tell a story instead, and been more like Knytt: a thing of discovery. A really bad, predictable story can be worse than no story.

    • Noc says:

      I didn’t mind it, simply because it’s quite clearly an exploration game? I don’t think Malor being evil was really supposed to be a twist, considering how obvious it is. Especially since the clues just keep piling up as you collect more and more gems, making it even more stunningly obvious.

      So it’s not like “Oh, the clever people will not get the gems and get the Secret Good Ending!” It’s “The people who spend some more time poking around will find the extra powerups and the Western Wall and get back up on their own.” And, honestly? After listening to Malor be all ominous and smug the whole game, the ‘Good Ending’ is pretty satisfying; I was expecting to have to wander around and press “c” or something, but was instead treated to a fall down a heavenly beam of light ending in a sword-plant. I left satisfied!

      (Another way of figuring it is that Malor is just another “GLaDOS” figure, except you actually have the option of obeying him instead of being railroaded into rebellion.)

      Would it have been better with a deeper plot, or more clever writing, or more atmosphere, or a more complex, more expansive world? Yes. Because those are all things that make things better! But I think the neat little story it tells is a perfectly reasonable alternative to an empty, hyper-atmospheric world like Knytt and SotC,* or the mind-screwy high-concept angle lots of other indie platformers go for.

      *These two games in particular seem like pretty clear influences, honestly. It’s Knytt-style area exploration and powerup gathering, with SotC’s endurance system. But the reason both games work is, beyond the atmosphere, the fact that the PC’s movement is really good, and really satisfying. I don’t think Endeavor quiiiite managed to nail that, and doubt the platforming would have held up in a longer game.

    • Wulf says:

      Opinions, people have them. Other people bust head veins over them. The Internet? The Internet never changes.

      What you seem to have missed in that rather tangent-driven ramble wasn’t that I was saying that the game needed a brilliant story, in fact, if you read the very last part of the comment I say something not quite like that at all. No, what I was saying was that I felt that the poor, obvious, derivative, and incredibly average story detracted from the game.

      I mean, if you take something good and cover it in shit, it doesn’t make the good thing better really, does it? It just makes the good thing look and smell distinctly of shit. If the aforementioned good thing can stand by its own merits, it doesn’t need to be draped in shit. Not that anything should be, anyway. And you see, therein lies my point.

      I felt that the story was taking something good and draping it in shit. The game would’ve done better for itself sans the storytelling aspect. I mean, it worked for Knytt, Metroid, and even Wonderboy. And sometimes just adding too much story to that kind of game, especially when the story is predictable old tosh, just lessens the experience. See: Other M.

      I wasn’t expecting the story to be brilliant, no. That’s just where you’ve misunderstood me and ran off on your own tangent. I’m just saying that the story was kind of crap and the game would’ve fared better without one. And that if a game is going to have a story, then it shouldn’t be trite and predictable, because if it is then it lessens the experience of a game that otherwise would’ve been good.

      Are we clear now? I hope so.

    • Wulf says:

      In short: If the story is incredibly unimaginative, then it locks the player down into that story and it feels disappointing. Whereas if the game decided to forego a story, the developer knowing of their inability to write, then that means that the game is open to interpretation. The player can leave the game pleased and satisfied. So really, case in point, some games are just better without a story.

      If you can write, good for you. If you can’t write, but you can develop games, then don’t saddle your games with poor writing because they’ll only suffer for it. Either leave everything open to interpretation, or get a better writer. Both work. If you leave everything open to interpretation, then everyone leaves happy because they weaved their own story into that world. If you have a good writer then people are happy with their experience.

      I just think that this game, like some others that have had shit writing, would’ve been better standing on the merits of its gameplay alone, only hinting at what was going on, and leaving it all up to interpretation. In fact, remove ALL the text from the game and it gets a good few times better by the merits of that alone.

    • Noc says:

      On the contrary, sir! You seem to be misunderstanding what I was saying.

      You made two assertions:

      1) The story is absolutely terrible.
      2) It would be a better game without the story there at all.

      I disagreed with both points.

      1) The story isn’t terrible, and much of your reaction seems to stem from inaccurate expectations — or at least expectations very different from mine. To me, the story seemed simple, albeit not hugely inspired, and worked fairly well to provide a structure for the exploration.
      2) Given point #1, the quality of the story did not detract from my enjoyment, because I thought it was alright.

      I also asserted that the game’s platforming mechanics and level of atmosphere are insufficient to stand on their own without the story. Yes, it might do well as such a game after some retooling of the aesthetics and platforming, but I suspect that if you just “took all the text out” it would just end up looking unfinished.

      Would the designer have had more success if they’d gone that route instead? Maybe! I haven’t seen enough of their other work to know if they could pull it off. But I disagree with the conclusion that this is a great platformer that was ruined by terrible writing.

    • Berzee says:

      Agreed with Noc — I like the story. :) A runt who becomes a hero with no internal angst in between…is a perfectly exciting story. Perfectly predictable if all you look at is the beginning and the end, and it’s very overused. But it’s exciting.

      THIS story of a runt becoming a hero also has him learn to hang glide, swim, and a ton of other things dwarves aren’t famous for. But if you took out the fact that he was a dwarf, and a runt, I don’t think the tree climbing and suchlike would be so interesting.

      But even if he wasn’t a dwarf doing unexpected things…I hope that we don’t become SO addicted to surprise that we can’t enjoy plain old Jack & the Beanstalk upside down.

  21. Miffins says:

    Er, I played it without the sound turned on, so I didn’t notice the voice sounded ominous. Whoops!

  22. Razz says:

    This sort of thing is like crack to me. Thanks Quinns :]

    Although you just stole about an hour of my life. Thanks Quinns :[

  23. MikeBBetts says:

    Am I the only one a little bored of the, “Do what video games tell you to do, oh wait, now you are the bad guy, that’s what you get for following directions!” plot twist?

    • Panther says:

      Am bored of people asking questions that could be easily answered by just reading what has been said above.

  24. Zillix says:

    It’s really cool that endeavor is getting this much attention!
    It’s my first sponsored game, and only the second game I’ve published.
    I’m aware that the story certainly leaves something to be desired; it was always meant just to be an excuse for the gameplay anyway =P. In the future, however, I’ll try not to borrow so heavily from such well-established plots!
    Thank you all for checking it out!

    -Zillix

    • Bret says:

      Nice to hear from.

      And yeah, it was a good game with the common problem of sharing a central plot theme with more than half the flash games on RPS. Not something to be too ashamed of, in the lump.

      So, yeah. Really liked the opening, come to think. A nice way to set up central mechanics, even if I (almost ashamed to say it) looked for a good bit in the later game for more jump power ups.

    • Chris says:

      Great game – I don’t really do platformers, and I finished it twice.

      Not all of us thought the plot was a bad thing. Perhaps it’s just that I haven’t played Shadow of the Colossus, and haven’t had it spoiled. My only criticism would be that a lotof gameplay is focussed on getting the jewels, so if you realise early on that it’s a Bad Thing, it obviates a lot of the game (no point getting the pearl or detector, for instance).

      Well done!

    • Malagate says:

      I’m actually taken aback by the idea that this flash game borrows a plot, as in I haven’t played any other flash games with a plot anything like this recently, nor any with a similar plot advertised on RPS (last thing I played before this was Sydney Shark…).

      Have I missed a wealth of free games that have the central idea of “Go into the big wide world and be careful in choosing who you listen to lest you get led to the Bad End”? If I have I please provide linkage so that I could sample & compare, because I really enjoyed this endeavor.

      Also liked the endurance, it gives a nice obvious goal that’s seperate from gem collecting, also presenting the idea that it is an actual endeavor to jump and climb all over the place. Especially stamina mangement in the areas with little resting chances.

  25. Tminusfun says:

    I’ve played about 10 minutes so far, and I’m a little bored. Unfortunately, the Metroidvania elements are more like the watered-down Knytt variety.

    The Endurance system doesn’t really create any sort of challenge, it just slows things down while you rest on a ledge.

    And why is it that when M. Night Shyamalan pulls a twist ending he’s called a hack, but when some quaint indie game does it it’s genius?

    The art and the music are appealing.

    • Premium User Badge

      phlebas says:

      Do you see a lot of posts hailing the twist ending as genius?
      We do generally love Knytt though.

    • Lilliput King says:

      His first two films had twist endings, and were pretty good (and generally recognised as such). The main problem he’s had subsequently is just making films which are utterly terrible in every way. The endings have nothing to do with it.

    • panther says:

      “And why is it that when M. Night Shyamalan pulls a twist ending he’s called a hack, but when some quaint indie game does it it’s genius?”

      talking shit

  26. panther says:

    Loved the gameplay for the most part. The story was interesting but could have been better. Fantastic for a free flash game though!

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