When I saw previews for Endling – Extinction is Forever, I was not remotely prepared for what the game had in store for me. I just finished the game right now; I have tears rolling down my face, and I am not going to go back and play for the achievements. Don’t get me wrong; this game is incredibly beautiful with a powerful story and I enjoyed it, but it was an emotional rollercoaster. Endling – Extinction is Forever is a gut-wrenching game of survival, of habitat loss, and of the detrimental effect people have on the world around them.
This game has several competing challenges that you have to balance. As a mother fox, you’re responsible for taking care of your babies, guiding them and finding food while you try to avoid the encroaching presence of people. The game starts innocently enough with you getting to change the patterns of the babies’ fur and fawn over their cute sleeping faces. Even though you are minding your own business, trouble shows up at your doorstep (literally) and snatches a baby right from your den. Things become more complicated as you have competing interests: trying to find your missing baby, looking for food for your other babies, and making sure you get back to the den before the sun rises.
It gets more difficult as other predators and traps arrive on the scene. Avoiding the owl is easy enough and you can avoid traps if you just pay attention (don’t just keep blindly running), but the first night I ran into a trapper, I had to stop playing for a while. The game is 30 days long (at least it was for me) and on Night 14, a trapper showed up outside my den when I tried to get home. You cannot fight and if he gets you, he will kill you. Outrunning him isn’t the hard part – there’s also a hunter you have to avoid on the route back to the den and he will shoot you. The good thing I eventually learned is that the trapper will stop hunting you long enough that you can sneak around the hunter without having the worry about timing (I’ve also learned since finishing the game you can just hide in bushes and not do this approach at all). The bad thing is I got repeatedly shot and told my cubs were going to die because I did. Maybe don’t watch this video if you don’t want to watch me get tagged by the hunter.
As you progress through the game, the forest becomes more of a trash pile with the impact of people becoming more apparent. You’ll be digging in the trash for food and find your head trapped in a bag. You’ll be navigating camps and have people try to grab you. You’ll even start to see dogs prowling that will kill you (and that is horrifying to watch). All the while, you’re still following the scent of your missing baby… You’re still trying to keep the other 3 alive.
If you get hurt, your speed will slow and you’ll have to make tough decisions about whether you should start going back to the den or risk everything for some food. The game will break your heart with the cries of hungry puppies who stop walking when it’s too much to keep going. In this next video, I’m trying to track my missing baby’s scent and don’t even see the owl until it’s too late. A prime example of always pay attention to your surroundings even when you’re chasing a scent that will soon fade.
You’ll encounter other animals and people… Situations where you have to make a decision yet again. Can you help? Do you trust? Do you even have time? I don’t want to tell you too much about how you go about getting your baby back and the challenges you face each night, but this game is really freaking heavy emotionally. The moment I found my missing baby was gut-wrenching. I was so relieved, but the moment that unfolded alongside the reunion made it hard to be too happy.
You might think getting your baby back is the end of the game, but you still need to survive with the four of them in tow. The world is literally falling apart around you up until you reach a climactic moment that feels like the end, but it’s not. There’s still some more heartbreak ahead of you.
As I watched the final moments of my game play out. As I picked up tired babies in my mouth and carried them forward. As I tried to keep everyone safe, I knew there was no way this would be a happy ending. After everything you go through in this game, there is no way it can be anything else. I watched the final cut scene, I yelled at the TV, and I pressed through the ending as tears welled in my eyes. The ending credits began rolling over the final image, game achievements started popping up, and I just said, “I can’t play this again”.
As sad as this game is, it is incredibly impactful and profound in its messaging. It is a devastating story and it wasn’t easy (emotionally) to play this game. It is good, but just know that you are in for an emotional rollercoaster should you choose to play this title. I’ll end this post with a lighter video – a moment of hope in an otherwise desolate world. Good luck getting through this title without shedding a tear.