In a market littered with survival games, Endling brings a new perspective and narrative to the genre. Made by Herobeat Studios, Endling: Extinction Is Forever has you controlling a mother Fox trying to protect her cubs from a cruel world as humans take your home. As you explore and hunt for food, you watch as the nature around you is altered. The message is unambiguous, and the theme evokes lots of emotion. On that front, the developers certainly achieved what they set out for.
Endling is simple to play with easy controls in terms of survival games. Movement is on a 2D plane, with interactions allowing you to deviate onto different paths in a 3D world. Even with the limited movement, the fixed camera work allows you to fully take in and appreciate the beautiful yet grim scenery. In fact, the simple approach to controls and movement allows the beauty of the art to shine, as it tells the story entirely on its own.
After the dramatic intro, your Fox gives birth to four kits, all of which you can customize with different patterns and colors, giving the baby foxes some individuality. Shortly after they are born, one of your babies gets taken by The Scavenger. This leads you into the bulk of the gameplay.
Your quest is to follow the scent left behind and attempt to save your baby. However, you and your remaining babies still need to eat. This develops a balance between your desire to chase your kidnapped baby and keeping yourself and the other babies alive. Invading humans also scout the areas and set traps that can injure you. This makes you unable to fight back or run quickly, so hiding, avoiding, or running from danger is pivotal.
For food, there are multiple sources you need to identify. You can hunt fish and rodents and eat berries and other fruits from bushes and trees. You can even dig through trash left by invaders, but doing so isn’t without danger. You have a meter on the screen to show your hunger, and it’s important to monitor as you explore. The game gives you scents to follow for some foods, so pay close attention.
Your babies also develop certain skills as they grow and explore. One can dig for food; another can squeeze into tight places to find even more food. Opening the map can give hints for world-building events or spots where your kits might learn something new. You can even pet and play with the kits if they experience something scary or confusing. You might notice the importance the game is putting on food.
This is because, to put it simply, you can fail. If you ignore food for too long or cannot return home before sunrise, your kits can actually die. You can also fail to follow the scent of the missing kit, ending in death for them as well. This puts insidious pressure on the player because, as you can imagine, different endings depend on how well you’ve kept your babies alive.
Endling: Extinction Is Forever is a visually beautiful game with a heart-touching journey and a unique perspective. The simple controls allow you to take in the world and manage the stress of the situations without it being overly complex. The developers have done a beautiful job creating situations that make you feel attached to your fox and her babies and generate stress as the world around them changes. This is a lovely addition to any gaming library and had me gripped for hours. If you want a fresh survival experience, look no further.
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