Endling: Extinction is Forever: Review
This game was reviewed on Playstation 5.
Reviewed by: Amanda Martin
The opening scenes of this beautiful indie title instantly put you on edge. The forest is burning around you, and you must flee the safety of the trees into an unknown world. After quite a dramatic tumble, you pull yourself free and slowly limp across the landscape until you can find a safe space to recover. And also to give birth. You bring four adorable little fox cubs into the world and, after the simple customisable options for their fur, it is now your job to feed them and protect them from danger. But disaster just keeps coming, as one of your cubs gets kidnapped. You can find his scent trail every so often, and this reveals the story of your antagonist, the Scavenger. Even though he can be perceived as a villain, he is also just trying to survive in this world, whilst looking after a child of his own.
The game uses simplistic yet striking art work to express the changes happening in the world, as it also touches on a subject close to everyone's heart. From ruined structures, to refugee camps and dystopian chicken processing factories, it all helps to emphasise the message of what humanity is doing to their surroundings. One part of the game shows this outright as you enter a forest, only to see more trees being cut down as the nights continue. And do you really want to go rooting around in that pile of trash?
The gameplay itself is also rather simple, yet effective. You can sniff around the environment to try and catch the scent of food. You can crouch to sneak up on unsuspecting prey like rabbits and mice. Unless you are injured, you can even sprint around and climb ledges, giving you even more to explore. And don't worry if your cubs fall behind, a simple tap of the bark button will have them running to you. However, there will be areas inaccessible to them, unless they learn the right cub skill. These skills can help the cubs find their own food, taking some of the stress from off of your shoulders.
There are many dangers to be aware of as you travel in the search of food and shelter. There are owls that sit silently in the trees, waiting on an unsuspecting cub to catch its attention. There are well-hidden bear traps that will trigger unless you jump over them. The Scavenger will scan his flashlight around an area, and if he spots you, the sudden bang of a rifle will make sure you don't make that mistake again. Then there is the Furrier, a man who will actively chase you down to try and catch you. The music surrounding the encounters with this enemy will instantly put you on high alert and make you eager to escape back to the safety of your burrow.
You will occasionally find friendly beings in this world as well, in an effort to show that not all things are as bad as they seem. Helping a badger out of its predicament can give you access to another food supply, and also a handy fast travel system to help you get around the map faster, as you only have so much time before the dawn arrives. There are even some nice humans that will drop food for your cubs to enjoy.
I absolutely adore the haptic feedback of the PS5 controller, and love the games that use them to their full potential. Endling uses this feature wonderfully in different aspects. When it rains, there's a gentle tapping all over the controller, making it feel like rain drops landing on your hands. When you become injured, the R2 button seizes up. This button is used for sprinting, so having this become almost useless for a time drives home the fact that you are no longer able to protect yourself or your cubs if you get into another altercation.
You and your cubs may not survive this tale. You can succumb to injury and death, with a message telling you that your cubs will also not survive without their mother. Your cubs can become prey to other animals, or even starve to death of not taken care of. The ending of this story is very dependent on how well you are able to care for these little creatures, and also yourself, in a world that is falling apart around you.
A heart breaking tale of a mother fox trying to provide for her cubs in a crumbling world. You will definitely need the tissues for this one.
Reviewed by: Amanda Martin