Windows Central Verdict
Endling - Extinction is Forever gives a cold hard look at what pollution and human cruelty are doing to the environment. The message is driven home as you fight tooth and claw to raise your fox cubs while navigating a dangerous world. Exploration and survival aspects make for a unique experience, but if your pups die it can be heart-wrenching
+ Beautiful art style and animations
+ Impactful message
+ Powerful music
+ Simple survival mechanics
Gets repetitive very quickly
Flow of the game doesn't always make sense
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Whether we like to think about it or not, we as humans have a heavy impact on the environment and animal life. It's a fact that developer, Herobeat Studios, makes very apparent in Endling - Extinction is Forever, a survival game that's now available on all platforms.
The game starts with players taking on the role of the last adult fox on the planet who is in the middle of escaping from a human-instigated forest fire. Upon finding a safe place to make her den, she gives birth to four cubs and immediately begins work on foraging for food and teaching them the survival skills they need to exist in this cruel world.
However, there's a danger here. Most people will kill you on sight, and one of them even kidnaps a cub near the start. Now it's up to you to keep your three remaining cubs fed while trying to find out what happened to your missing baby. If your cubs aren't fed, they will die, so you need to constantly be looking through trash and hunting to keep everyone alive. Just be careful not to get stuck in traps.
While the game is very on the nose, this survival game offers a gorgeous visual experience while providing an empathetic look into the effects of pollution and human cruelty.
I played on PC, but it's also available on several other platforms like Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. At the time of writing, it was not available on Xbox Game Pass.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by HandyGames. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
Endling - Extinction is Forever: What you'll like
Art style and music
The entire time I played through Endling, I couldn't help but admire the fox family and the environments they had to traverse. The main vixen's movements are so fluid that I loved watching her run from one place to another. The cubs are as adorable as their mother is elegant, moving in ways that will pull at your heartstrings. This really is one of the prettiest PC games out there.
The artists who worked on this game did a phenomenal job creating some of the most gorgeous forest areas alongside the most lifeless locations imaginable. This juxtaposition helped show the extremes between natural environments and ones that had been impacted negatively by humans.
Accompanying these powerful visuals is somber music that helps portray the mood of any given scene from panic to despair. The tones work in harmony with the games' art style to create a treat for the senses.
|Category||Endling - Extinction is Forever||Row 0 - Cell 2|
|Developer||Herobeat Studios||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|Publisher||HandyGames||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|Genre||Survival adventure||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|Minimum requirements||Windows 10 64bit / Intel Core i5 / AMD FX-6300 / 8 GB RAM||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|Game size||12 GB||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|Play time||8+ hours||Row 6 - Cell 2|
|Players||Single||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|Platforms||Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows||Row 8 - Cell 2|
|Launch price||$30||Row 9 - Cell 2|
The game is divided into 30 days. In that time, you're given the daily task of venturing from your den, feeding your cubs, and exploring as much as possible before needing to rush back home before the sun rises. That's when dangerous humans come out.
Certain humans are out to hunt you, ready with an ax or a gun to end your life, so you need to sneak past them or avoid them entirely. If they succeed in killing you, you get a game over screen and must start the day over from scratch.
A bar appears at the bottom left of the screen indicating your cubs' hunger levels and letting you know if any are lost, in danger, or starving. If you come across specific locations on the map, one or some of your cubs will learn a new skill like climbing trees or hunting. When they learn these skills, they can help keep everyone else fed, making your job easier.
I could easily stick close to my den, grab food, and hide away early in the night at the beginning of the game, but the levels get more complex with additional dangers and places to explore as the game progresses. So having cubs with useful skills is important to keeping everyone alive.
The trade-off is that the further you explore, the higher the chances of your family running out of energy or getting hurt before you safely make it back to the den each night.
There were a couple of times when I almost didn't find enough food for my babies, but I never felt like the survival aspects of the game were overly complicated or tedious. Everything is simple and easy enough to understand. However, this also means that gameplay can get repetitive quickly.
Every few nights, you'll have the opportunity to learn more about what happened to your kidnapped cub if you take the time to track down scents indicated by a pink wave in the air. These sequences break up the repetitive nature of the game to some extent and provide a simple plot to follow.
Endling - Extinction is Forever: What's not good
While this survival adventure has some truly beautiful art and animations, it can be a real downer, although that's kind of the point. Still, if you're not the sort who can deal with the death of a fox cub, real or imaginary, this is a game to skip. The survival of your babies is in your hands and there's a chance they won't make it to the end unless you can help them learn the proper skills and get them fed each day.
Another thing I didn't care much for is that there are parts of the game that seem to beat you over the head with the message. I often cringed when I saw graffiti that said things like, "Your grandson is already dead" or "Future problems are now." It felt like it was going too hard on a message that was clearly already being portrayed through the events in the game. Sometimes it's best just to trust your audience.
Speaking of hitting you over the head with a message, without getting into spoilers, I will say that I didn't much care for the narrative. It was hard to follow in certain stretches and seemed tragic for tragedy's sake rather than having a helpful message. The main lesson I walked away with is that people are cruel, everyone suffers, and there's nothing we can do about it. it's very heavy, and brings down the charm the game has elsewhere.
Endling - Extinction is Forever: Should you buy it?
Endling - Extinction is Forever is not only a compelling survival game that has you taking care of adorable cubs, but it also offers serious commentary on the state of the world. The art style, animations, and music used are absolutely gorgeous and work well together to pull you into the story.
It's definitely worth playing if you like simple survival games, but be ready in case things end on a far sadder note than you would like.
Endling - Extinction is Forever
Experience the struggle of trying to feed and raise your cubs while playing as a mother fox in a changing world. Your cubs will learn new skills increasing their chances of survival as you explore.
Buy from: Green Man Gaming
Self-professed gaming geek, Rebecca Spear, is one of Windows Central's gaming editors with a focus on Xbox and PC gaming. When she isn't checking out the latest games on Xbox Game Pass, PC, or Steam Deck; she can be found digital drawing with a Wacom tablet. She's written thousands of game guides, previews, features, and hardware reviews over the last few years. If you need information about anything gaming related, her articles can help you out. She also loves testing game accessories and any new tech on the market.