Endling: Extinction is Forever
Will the last fox on Earth be able to save her three little cubs? Experience what life would be like in a world devastated by humans through the eyes of the last fox on Earth, in this ecological adventure. Discover the destructive effect of the human race, which day after day corrupts, pollutes and exploits the most precious and valuable resources of the natural environment.
During the last ID@Xbox Summer Game Fest Demo Event we had the chance to try demos of several games that would be released in the following months. One of them was Endlingdeveloped by the Spanish studio Herobeat Studios. Five minutes were enough for me to fall in love with the proposal. Now we’ve been able to play the full version and we tell you all about it in our review of Endling: Extinction is Forever for Xbox One (played from an Xbox Series X). Join us in the following lines to know what we thought of it and why we think it is one of the best games of 2022.
Surviving against all odds
In Endling we play as a mother vixen whose mission is as basic as nature itself: to take care of her cubsand teach them what they need to survive in the future. However, the task is not as simple as it may seem, and the culprit has a very definite identity: the human being. As we progress through history we can see how the actions of humans in the natural environment in which we live are deteriorating not only the landscape and lushness, but also diminishing our chances of survival and hindering our mission.
We will not go into more detail because seeing firsthand how this process is developing and how it affects us as players is one of the great virtues of Endling. A videogame that, in addition to offering a pleasant experience and a moving storyalso aims to raise awareness about the damage that human action does to nature, degrading it by leaps and bounds and gradually extinguishing all the animal species that live in it. Some of the stories that we find in Endling are heartbreaking and most meritorious of all is that he achieves this without a word. After all, the main protagonists of this story are unanthropomorphized foxes, plain and simple animals.
Simplicity as the key
Many narrative-focused indie games neglect to offer an interesting gameplay proposition, but Endling manages to do so with very clever elements and gorgeous world design. Herobeat Studios’ title is a 2.5D side-scrolling adventure gamewhich means that we move in two dimensions but gives the sensation of being three-dimensional. In fact, the game takes this perspective to the maximum expression. And Endling, really, is a game of open worldbut one in 2D, which makes the effect even more impressive. How does it do it? With forks, jumps, holes and other design elements that allow us to choose between one path or another, always with the possibility of returning.
This achieved 2.5D is not only visually and playably appealing, but it is fundamental to Endling’s proposal. The title is divided into several days. Each time you start we find ourselves in our lair together with our cubs and what we have to do is to come out of it after dark to look for foodclues about the location of another of our young, and understanding the world around us, which changes and degrades without us being able to do anything about it. The key to this whole cyclical process is in doing everything we need to do each night, but returning to our lair before dawn. If we are late we will start encountering more and more human threats along the way, which could end our lives and force us to restart the day to try again.
Playably it is an addictive and very interesting formula, but the truth is that it also works at the level. narrative. As the days go by and we explore the area around us, food becomes scarce and we have to find new ways to feed our cubs. A masterclass in environmental and playable storytelling that does not require a single word to convey the message it intends. Throughout the process we also have to teach the cubs skills of our own that could be useful in critical situations.
It has always been the contention of yours truly that, despite historical insistence, video games need not be fun, bring a smile to your face, or serve as an aid to escape reality. Video games (like other cultural media and perhaps more than them) have the ability to convey messagesto tell stories in a way that cinema or literature cannot, and to involve the player. That is precisely what Endling: Extinction is Forever does, with the added bonus that its gameplay experience is indeed satisfying and entertaining. However, it also has the rest of the aforementioned elements and heartbreaking moments that freeze our hearts.
Also contributing to this is a magical and tragic soundtrack composed by the award-winning musician. Manel Gil-Inglada (and with names like Tina Guo or Rusanda Panfili, whom you may know from Hans Zimmer’s live concerts) and an artistic section that complements the story and the tone of the game, especially in the wonderful opening and closing sequences.
Endling: Extinction is Forever is a video game that goes beyond the video game. Although it boasts gameplay with clever elements and a repetitive but satisfying process, the Herobeat’s title’s greatest virtue is its narrative.. It tells a great deal without saying anything and moves and touches with a story that is as heartbreaking as it is necessary. Endling conveys a message and does it in the best possible way. So much so that we would be very surprised if the work of the Spanish studio was left without nominations at this year’s Game Awards. Indispensable.
+Its artistic section
+His heartbreaking story
+His environmental narrative
+Your ingenious 2.5D world
-Can be somewhat repetitive.