Endling: Extinction is Forever Review – An Emotional, Eco-Conscious Tale

Endling: Extinction is Forever Review

Due to centuries of harm and recklessness, Earth is withering. Pollution, climate change, and other environmental issues are altering our world. While many turn a blind eye to the crisis at hand, others challenge it directly. Endling: Extinction is Forever does precisely this. The game has a clear eco-conscious message, but can it be communicated while delivering an engaging experience?

You play as a mother fox who aims to survive in a world where humans invade your habitat. In your care are four adorable cubs which you must protect. As a species on the verge of extinction, you will have to do everything you can to ensure the safety of your kin. While peacefully asleep, a hideous trapper takes your cub, meaning you must now find your baby while you teach and protect your others. Although the game’s message is blatant, the subtlety and nuances surrounding the storytelling are incredible. Periodically, evidence of the whereabouts of your cub appears, which progresses the overall narrative. Due to the constant care of its siblings, the absence of the cub is even more evident and builds the need to reunite the skulk.

To Fight With Tooth and Claw

Survival is at the forefront. Your cubs need food and it is down to you to ensure that they don’t go without. A meter resides at the bottom of the screen to track the hunger level of your brood. As this dwindles, tension begins to rise and a layer of urgency accompanies your hunt. To track a food source, you simply press a button that emits a green trace which you can follow to find a snack. Creatures scurry away if they hear you, so you must sneak behind and pounce or settle for fruit.

Endling: Extinction is Forever includes a day and night cycle. This means you have a limited time out in the wild as your cubs will get tired. Due to this, you will find yourself rushing to shelter each night in order to protect the family. While survival aspects are ever-present, exploration is encouraged. You can scour the map and discover things at your own pace. As you wander the terrain, you’ll come across events and unlock new areas, which gives more incentive to investigate. The map gradually opens up, and at times you need to traverse the entirety of it. In order to make this easier, you can use badger dens to access a different area quickly. Even though the game is essentially 2D, the world branches off in various ways so you’ll constantly need to check your map to find the optimum route to your destination.

The Time Of Your Life

As time progresses, your cubs age. They become more self-sufficient and learn how to do different tasks which makes your life easier. The skills they develop are individual, which adds further character to each of the offspring. Seeing them grow really does create a bond between you and the cubs. A determined desire to look after them manifests from this, which helps the game get to places that most struggle to reach.

Throughout the world are humans who have set up contraptions to catch and injure you. Due to this, you will need to keep an eye out for these as well as the odd animal threat. Some areas have owls who will swoop down and attack, which means you’ll have to stealth past the bird. Other dangers include a hunter who tries to shoot you down and others who chase. If you’re caught, you will die and have to restart that day. While this does make some sections tense, the threats lack variety. Encounters with a particular foe are the same throughout, just in different locations. Even though the game isn’t particularly long, it would have been nice to see a wider range of dangers for the brave vixen.

Purposeful and Honest

The art direction for Endling: Extinction is Forever is remarkable. Simple and beautiful, the game manages to capture a whimsy that will make you fall head over heels with the design. The stunning animation also amplifies this. The way the foxes interact with one another feels authentic which makes the segments when they are in pain even more difficult to digest. Sadness permeates throughout. The stunning score accentuates the array of emotions you’ll wade through in your perilous journey. 

Endling: Extinction is Forever is more than a game; it’s a statement. The commitment from Herobeat Studios’ to portray an honest view of how humans affect the environment is commendable. While there are heart-wrenching moments in the game that some may find too difficult to consume, it’s an incredible experience that will leave a lasting mark.

*** A Nintendo Switch key provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • A Passionate Social Commentary
  • Incredible Story Telling
  • Beautiful Design

The Bad

  • Enemy Encounters Lack Variety
  • Some Repetitive Gameplay
  • Heartbreaking