Endling – Extinction is Forever is one of those indie games that sticks with you because of its emotional undertone and message. Developed by Herobeat Studios, it’s out now by way of HandyGames for all major systems – we played it on a PlayStation 4.
We often get our hands on upcoming indie titles fairly late, but were able to get a good look at Endlnig – Extinction is Forever over a year ago, when it was part of a HandyGames press event. It stuck with us because of its powerful concept, but we were curious to see how they’d stretch that out into a full gameplay experience.
That concept and the underlying message isn’t hard to guess – it’s right there in the title of the game. And when the game features a few adorable looking foxes, you already know that the story is going to involve humans wreaking havoc on mother nature. No surprises there, but the story is a surprisingly personal one, as you play as a mother fox who has to keep her cubs fed and safe – while also trying to track down a fourth cub that went missing.
This involves avoiding humans and their traps, while at the same time teaching your cubs how to stay safe. As they can’t feed themselves, a large portion of the in-game loop is reserved for finding food, sniffing out scents and following them in order to locate prey or valuable trash bags that were dumped.
Back at your den you’ll be able to check out how your cubs are developing, though how you exactly go about unlocking new skills can be a bit obtuse if it’s not part of the narrative and its objectives. We suppose you’re expected to organically learn this through discovery so as to make the game not feel too ‘on rails’, but in that case we would have liked for the game to at least encourage us to explore more in the bare bones tutorial.
As message, the underlying message that humans are hurting our planet is clear, but the personal approach to this theme is delivered in a powerful and emotional way – merging the small scale consequences for the wildlife we see in the game with more global and permanent effects. The story here may be short (it unfolds over a handful of days), but the impact is a lasting one – partly because it hits close to home.
The storybook-like presentation, with wonderfully animated foxes, certainly adds to the narrative experience as well, and is backed by an emotionally-laden soundtrack. It might be a bit too heavy-hearted for some, but fans of meaningful games should definitely check this one out. It’s a little low on traditional gameplay mechanics, but more than makes up for it with its story and emotional message.