Available for Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PC
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are currently some 5,200 endangered species on the planet. At the same time, in Spain, we are experiencing the most devastating summer in memory in terms of forest fires. These are just two pieces of information that can put into context the importance of a game like “Endling”, which seeks to both entertain and raise awareness.
Barcelona-based developer Herobeat Studios has worked for years to achieve a development that surprised this Fun & Serious publisher several years ago. A commendable proposition that mixes narrative and survival mechanics with equal parts exploration phases.
With an aesthetic reminiscent of the great independent productions like ‘Inside’, Endling presents us with a less linear and sometimes more open game, which takes advantage of the cycles of day and night to modify its mechanics.
The title charges us with the survival of a family of foxes in the midst of an environmental disaster. Thus, it will be in the nocturnal cycles where we can move with greater freedom of exploration for, basically, two purposes: to advance the plot of which we will not say anything here, and to search for food in various ways ( sniffing, hunting…).
It is precisely at night that we can explore. That yes, always being careful that the day does not reach us, otherwise we will have to run so as not to be captured. Although not only humans will be a danger to us and our waste: during the exploration we will be able to find traps of all kinds and other animals that will try to hunt us down.
The work of Herobeat Studios knows how to awaken our feelings towards animals like no other. If you’re a lover of mother nature, or just have a cat or dog at home, with Endling you’re going to have a hard time. The game knows how to create an oppressive atmosphere when you can’t escape the dangers that await you or, even worse, when you can’t find food on stage for your offspring.
And it’s one thing to die yourself and another to lose puppies along the way: absolutely devastating. Especially if you take into account how the Barcelona studio has developed the interactions between mother and offspring, making us part of their evolution at all times. Little “tricks” like stroking them or holding them in the mouth serve to further increase that sense of responsibility and pressure to make sure nothing happens to them.
And therein lies one of the strengths of the title. For once, we are not the hero or the anti-hero of a story that forces us to fight for our survival. This time, our main goal is to save others. What we do, we will do for them, who will always be a priority, at least on a sentimental level. Of course, the game has certain “limitations” for everything to fit, such as the fact that we don’t need to eat.
Getting around the Endling map is quite an experience. Its side-scrolling motion system hides different paths and shortcuts in other directions, with the game acquiring some nuances of the usual three-dimensional environment without actually being one. It is true that sometimes we can get stuck on a route that is not always as inspired as it should be, but for this there is a map that we can consult at any time from the pause menu.
Another point to highlight is the artistic direction. Precious sometimes, it shows that we don’t need hyperrealistic graphics to display images as beautiful as they are distressing before our eyes. However, sometimes the definition of scenarios (especially at night) can mislead us, making it impossible to know exactly what we are seeing or, directly, making it difficult to see because of the lack of light or the choice of the color palette of colors. The marked personality of the group makes this almost anecdotal, in any case.
The same can be said for an incredible, guitar-heavy soundtrack that fits perfectly with Endling’s apocalyptic formula. In short, a game that knows very well what it is doing. For its playability, originality and general approach, not to mention its very high production values. It aims (and manages) to touch the potato, to entertain us and make us think. There is nothing.