Games, films, and books are emotive forms of entertainment. As such, they get under your skin and tug at your heartstrings. Now, admittedly, it takes something special to have me invested. However, when it happens, I struggle to put that thing down. Accordingly, when I was given Endling – Extinction is Forever, that’s exactly what happened.
Developed by Herobeat Studios and published by HandyGames, this is an emotional and touching survival title. What’s more, this single-player experience highlights mankind’s destructive nature. Consequently, its harrowing tale acts as a stark reminder of the damage we’ve done to our surroundings. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. No, instead, there are some beautifully touching moments that make all the heartache worthwhile.
Endling – Extinction is Forever is a tear-jerker.
Am I ashamed to admit that Endling – Extinction is Forever made me shed a tear? Hell no! If this game doesn’t make you well up, there is something wrong with you. This tear-jerker title is so well-considered that every layer makes you think. You’ll consider the environment, mankind’s actions, and unnecessary death. What’s more, you’ll witness love, friendship, and, sadly, death. However, this is the cruel meaning of life, even if mankind is the catalyst.
The action revolves around classic survival game mechanics. As such, death is just around the corner, and danger is but a moment away. Moreover, starvation, traps, and injuries are pivotal moments in the plot. You control a vixen who is running for her life. Her home is burning down, and she survives by luck alone. After finding a new den to hunker down in, she gives birth to 4 cute pups. These adorable babies are the centre of her universe. As such, you must feed them, protect them, and teach them new skills. However, disaster strikes as a poacher steal one of the pups. Desperate to rescue it, the vixen must begin an adventure. Yet, she must balance motherhood and heroism carefully at all times.
A daunting world.
Endling – Extinction is Forever has done an amazing job of creating a daunting world. Subsequently, every turn highlights the damage of man’s existence. Pollution fills the air and rubbish is littered in every waterway. What’s more, traps hide in plain sight and food is unbelievably scarce. Therefore, keeping your babies alive while searching for the missing one is no mean feat.
The gameplay loop focuses on a day and night cycle, where the foxes must avoid poachers, traps, and predators. While out and about, they’ll find limited food supplies and clues to the missing pup. The vixen must follow each scent to pinpoint each location. If it is food you are searching for, a green scent line leads the way. However, if it is clues for your pup that interest you, a purple stream sets you on your way.
This basic approach worked really well, as the action was never overwhelming. Furthermore, the hunt for your pup was both daunting and interesting in equal measure. As you explore, ghostly images highlight the danger the pup has faced. This was tough to take as you can’t change the course of the game, and it feels unfairly voyeuristic. However, the safety of your remaining babies is well and truly within your grasp.
Death is just around the corner.
If you are unfortunate, or you ignore the day-night cycle, you’ll realise that death is just around the corner. As the sunrises, you must get back to your den. Yet, if you don’t, you’ll increase the chance of being seen by humans, or risk starvation. Either way, it’s heartbreaking when it happens, so some planning is essential.
As the game wears on, the pups age and learn new skills. These allow them to move quicker, hunt for food, jump, and so forth. Each of your offspring can complete one task, so pick wisely to improve your chances. Alongside this, you are expected to explore a range of different environments as you complete your rescue mission. However, blocked paths remain out of reach until certain tasks are completed. As such, the action flows nicely and you never get too far ahead of yourself. I adored this balanced approach, even if the danger never goes away.
Endling – Extinction is Forever looks hideous but beautiful.
With so much death and destruction at its core, Endling – Extinction is Forever was always going to be tough to look at. Stunning forests have been torn down, and industrial waste is piled in its place. The barren landscape is hideous, but the game is still oddly beautiful. The combination of stark images and pastel tones is a cruel contrast. Furthermore, the juxtaposed pictures of loss and life are ominous, touching, and uncomfortable. The developer’s delivery of such a harrowing concept could have been preachy and overwhelming. Instead, it is striking, horrendous, but oddly comforting as well.
These core ideas are supported by the incredible audio. With a simple and haunting soundtrack, the music will make you weep. The airy songs capture the feeling of isolation and fear. Furthermore, each dangerous moment is accompanied by a heavy and aggressive tune. These are then matched with some incredible environmental noises. Whether it was the wind blowing, the crunching of snow, or the rustling of leaves, it all adds to the experience.
A wonderful game to play.
The excellent control setup makes this a wonderful game to play. The action follows a 2D side-scrolling style except for branching paths. When this happens, an almost 3D solution is used to make the transition smooth and seamless. Other than this, every other task is completed by simply pushing set buttons. This may seem underwhelming, but I loved its stripped-back style. Accordingly, if it was too complex, it would have been frustrating and would have undermined the fantastic story.
Though the story has a linear path, there are many variants that must be considered. Unfortunately, each of your pups can die, and traps, poachers, and predators can end their lives prematurely. Alongside this, starvation is a real threat. Subsequently, abandoning a dying pup to save the rest is a decision that could well happen. Therefore, no playthrough is ever the same, and this adds to longevity and replay value.
Endling – Extinction is Forever is a beautifully brutal experience.
Mankind is a plague, and games like Endling – Extinction is Forever lay it out for all to see. Consequently, every element is heartbreaking, even when they are touching and rewarding. As such, this is a game that is unbelievably cruel to play while also being an unforgettable experience. Unsurprisingly, I cherished every moment, and I recommend you buy it here! Will you rescue your pup and escape your fate? Explore, hunt, and avoid mankind’s deadly touch.