Endling: Extinction is Forever PS5 Review – Modern games haven’t shied away from tackling real world issues, and some don’t always get it right. Few games, however, have not tackled the ever looming threat that is climate change, and the continued devastation that humans have on the environment, let alone from the perspective of the last fox in existence. Herobeat Studios deliver a message in the form of a game, in an attempt to raise environmental awareness, and it’s certainly a message from the heart.
Endling: Extinction is Forever PS5 Review
A Simplistic And Beautiful 3D Sidescroller Destined For Heartbreak
Whenever I play a game that heavily features an animal, I immediately brace for impact. The heartbreak feels inevitable. When you begin Endling, you will immediately be hit with a harrowing opening set piece. A forest fire, with a striking use of colour, and a fantastic musical score.
The fire ravages the forest, with trees collapsing, and animals scrambling in an attempt to flee to safety. The music is bold in these opening moments, and greatly assists in setting the stage. You take control of the last fox in existence, who just so happens to be pregnant with four cubs, and make your escape. The stakes are suitably high.
After the initial set piece, the music settles down, the mother fox will find safety in what will be the first lair. You will find yourself returning to these lairs before each night ends. Not long after arriving, the mother fox gives birth to her cubs.
The game will allow for you to customise their appearance with minimal, but not unwelcome customisation options. After the brief linear opening sequence, the game opens up.
A Well Crafted And Emotional Experience
A simplistic art style provides a beautiful backdrop for this 3D sidescroller. The game has you traverse the world, the way you would a 2D sidescroller, but it allows you take different paths in a more 3D landscape, but in a mostly linear manner.
A noticeably more subtle soundtrack follows the intro, which complements the change of pace. The shift to a somber and subtle audio fits well with the simplistic approach to both the art style, and the type of storytelling they’re going for.
Not only does this allow you to hear audio cues, it also plays an important role in the highly emotional experience that Herobeat Studios has crafted. Although simple, the story is impressively told without a single spoken word.
You will be tasked with finding food for your cubs, as well as nurturing them when they need it. Believe me, you do not want them to starve, as an incredibly heartbreaking animation will play out. Furthermore, it will impact the surviving siblings, albeit briefly. However, the hunger meter is the only survival element the game has, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble locating food throughout the short campaign length.
Tracking And Hunting
Each night, you will set out and hunt or find food for your cubs, and partake in any world events, that are marked on the map for you to easily locate. You will be climbing, digging, and jumping, as you make your way around the map, all of which feel responsive and smooth. After the first few nights, one of the cubs will be stolen.
This sets up the overarching story, which is told through the mother fox, tracking down her lost cub, via its scent. Every so often, after more nights pass, you will pick up on that scent, which gradually opens up more of the world for you to explore.
Around the same time, as they grow up, your remaining cubs will join you in your adventures. Through exploration, they will gradually learn new skills. Each cub mostly has their own unique skills, which will open up smaller pockets in the world for you to retrieve food. Not too dissimilar from the progression you might expect to see in a metroidvania.
For example, one cub will be able to squeeze through small gaps, to bring back food for the family, which would be inaccessible to the mother fox, due to her larger size. Some of these skills are accompanied by endearing animations, such as the vixen giving her cub a nudge through the gap with her nose. These small details, go such a long way in providing a lot of charm.
Predator And Prey
Naturally, there are enemies and obstacles in your way, to add a slight challenge to the task of feeding your cubs. As expected, humans play the primary role as antagonists. Poachers and hunters roam the environment, setting snare traps, patrolling routes, or covering an area with a rifle. Generally you can fend off any attacker once, unless you’re injured, then it’s game over. Unfortunately, there is a lack of variety when it comes to enemy encounters.
The hunters carrying rifles will require you to use stealth and patience to get around them, as it understandably only takes one bullet to put you down. Those stealth segments can be frustrating, but they are fairly simple to navigate overall. You can mark certain objects, to throw off the poacher’s trail, allowing for a safer retreat to your lair, before daybreak.
You also have to be careful of predators such as owls, as they will swoop down and harm your cubs. Not to mention, the mother fox can suffocate from a bag caught around her head, when digging through trash for food. Herobeat Studios don’t pull any punches with these smaller details, and nor should they, given the severity of the issues they’re bringing attention to.
I only ran into one bug, early on, with what seemed to be an infinite load screen. After that, I experienced no issues whatsoever during my time in Endling: Extinction is Forever, whilst playing the game on PS5.
Much like the overall runtime, the nights are short, and there is only so much to do. Throughout the course of the game, as much as I enjoyed the brief story events, exploration, and finding food for the skulk, I always wanted a bit more. I felt I was back to the lair far too quickly. Again, it feels like a slight lack in variety. Although, the game is short enough to make this issue negligible.
The way the environment and level design changes as you progress, and the humans continue on their path of destruction is masterful. In the second area, the gradual deforestation changes the entire scenery, simultaneously allowing for you take shortcuts across chopped down trees.
The small but well realised world is my favourite aspect of the game. Herobeat Studios has done an excellent job in crafting the environment, especially when marrying level design to the core message of the game.
Every area, and location has a unique feel to it, and they successfully capture a rather grim near future. I was hoping for another area, or perhaps another set piece similar to the intro. That doesn’t necessarily negate from what they did deliver on, I just wanted more of it.
Herobeat Studios perfectly displays the impact that humans have on the environment, and ecosystems, within the parameters of their game. Whether that be through the harsh deforestation of once evergreen forests, or an increasing lack of wild prey, for you to hunt.
A Heartfelt And Thoughtful Attempt To Raise Environmental Awareness
Herobeat Studios has successfully crafted a thoughtful and meaningful game, tackling important environmental issues, that they clearly care about. This is made more apparent by clever level design, an emotional story, and finer details that you will experience throughout the short time you’ll spend looking after those pups.
Endling: Extinction is Forever may lack some variety in enemy encounters, and objectives during your outings, but it makes up for it with a lot of charm and a genuine heartfelt attempt to raise environmental awareness. It won’t take you long to beat, and it’s well worth your time. Also, make sure to press up on the d-pad to pet those adorable cubs.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.
Endling: Extinction is Forever is now available on PS5 and PS4.