Endling - Extinction is Forever review
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Endling - Extinction is Forever review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on February 15th, 2023
Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar :: BARELY SCRAPING BY
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Endling feels like playing a suggestion of what it is marketed to be.

Developer: Herobeat Studios

Price: $9.99
Version: 1.3
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starblankstarblankstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

The pitch for Endling - Extinction is Forever is certainly intriguing. Marketing material will tell you it's a game where you play as the last fox left on Earth as your scrounge for food for you and your cubs and bear witness to the destructive power of humans. Technically this is all true, but the way Endling executes on these ideas is woefully underwhelming and plagued with technical issues.

Sneaky survival

Endling is a bit of a survival stealth game. You, as a fox with young cubs, venture out into the world under the cover of night to simply scavenge enough food to keep your family alive. You do this via direct control of the fox, though you are constantly locked into interweaving, rail-like paths you can hop between to dig through trash, hunt other wildlife, etc.

Making it to the next day isn't just a matter of finding food, though. There are humans and other creatures that may see and attack you, traps to look out for, and even certain food sources that have their own dangers associated with them. You also need to make sure you get back to a shelter before daybreak, as there is some implied mortal consequences for being out and about during the day.

Sniff out the story

On any given nighttime excursion, there are no other required objectives outside of scavenging. That said, there are points of interest that appear on the in game map as well as scent trails that can lead you to uncovering bits of story about Endling's world. The entire game is wordless, so the story bits are conveyed via still images and some character interactions, and in my time with the game it was hard to piece together a coherent narrative, really.

Things happened, of course, but it was very difficult to distinguish some characters from one another and figure out what any of it really had to do with the game Endling asks you to play. Eventually, additional events also come to a head and funnel you toward what felt like the inevitable conclusion of the game from the start, though I'll avoid spoiling anything in case someone can't or doesn't want to try to predict how a game like this might end.

Thorny and threadbare

Endling looks pretty amazing in motion and it definitely creates some emotional moments, but enjoying either of these aspects of the game can be pretty frustrating. Endling suffers from a number of bugs that can prevent you from making progress or force you to restart the game from a checkpoint.

Even without these bugs, Endling is systemically very thin. There's a single meter you have to manage throughout the game and doing so isn't particularly difficult or satisfying. There are peripheral systems like fast travel points, cub skills, and others, but none of them are particularly impactful on any of the core actions you perform to make progress in the game. As a result, Endling feels pretty tedious almost immediately and never really evolves into something that makes that tedium feel worth it.

The bottom line

I can see and appreciate the things Endling is going for, but it mostly only makes troublesome and weak attempts to reach them. Outside of the marketing, it never really feels like a game where you are the last fox on the planet. You don't actually get a good window into the horrors of human destruction. Yes, you play as a fox and you see cut down trees, but the message isn't sold to you within the game itself or through the things it asks you to do, which is pretty disappointing.

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