Endling - Extinction is Forever PC Review

A beautifully sad story about a fox mother and her kits.

By LCLupus, Posted 19 Jul 2022

Endling - Extinction is Forever is an utterly gorgeous game. Not only in its stylized visual presentation but also in its saddening thematic aspects. Herobeat Studio’s game is about a fox mother who has escaped much of the destruction of the world that humanity is responsible for and now has to protect the biggest hope for the continuation of the species: her babies.
 

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The game implies that your fox mother is the last fox on earth. She is the endling, an existing term that describes the last of a species, and so it’s quite important that you survive the harsh world and raise those kits to the best of your ability. And before we continue, “kit” is not a typo; that’s the actual term for a baby fox. So, if you didn’t know that, you learn something new every day!

Endling - Extinction is Forever is a survival game. At its core, this is what it is. You have your kits, and they need to survive the world around them, but it is quite unlike most survival games as you can “fail” without causing a game fail-state. This means that your kits can die. They can starve to death or be snatched by predators, and so you need to ensure that they are always fed and that any predators are fought off whenever they appear.
 

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The kits will also die if you, as the fox mother, die, but that is rather obvious. Although Endling - Extinction is Forever makes sure to let you know this with a game-over screen that ominously tells you “your babies will not survive”. So, that adds a good extra layer of sadness to the whole affair. And so, before we get to the mechanics themselves, this is where we should stop to say that if you cannot handle seeing animals suffer, this is not a game for you.

The creatures around you generally only suffer if you are not careful. For instance, you can get caught in a trap, which causes your fox mother to limp for a while afterwards, or you could get shot by a poacher or see one of your kits carried off by an owl or, most graphically, a furrier who can catch you and will then, quite brutally, snap your neck. Endling - Extinction is Forever shows this to you without censoring things. Sure, there’s no blood, but you don’t need blood to see and understand what often amounts to animal abuse. However, if you can handle that, the game has much to offer.

The game starts with a narrative set piece that ends with your fox mother having her babies, and you immediately start looking after them. The beginning is a perfect tutorial of things to come because it starts you off without your kits. You enter the world and learn your way around. You are shown how to find food, which can involve hunting for it, raiding the humans’ trash, or grabbing some fruit out of a bush. You then bring the food back to your den, and your babies have a good meal.
 

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Soon enough, your kits are old enough to leave with you, and they follow you for the rest of the game. Endling - Extinction is Forever is a companion game, but where the companions are integral to the experience. They can die, and the game will continue without them, but it clearly isn’t what should happen. They also aren’t annoying like many weak companions are in many games, but that may also be because you are narratively informed, right from the start, that they are weak creatures that need to be protected and cared for.

This is also where the game shines best. Because your little kits are not just things, you have to stop them from dying. They’re also your babies, and babies need to learn to survive the world. And this becomes an integral aspect of the game. Endling - Extinction is Forever is somewhat like a metroidvania, but with caveats. Your fox mother can do everything already. She can jump high, she can dig, etc, but your kits cannot. And so, they learn new skills along the way that help them survive the world. In addition, these skills can help you survive. For instance, they all eventually learn how to jump, but specific kits can learn to dig, climb or do a few other specific skills. This then opens new avenues for survival by giving you access to more sources of food and exploration. This is why it isn’t right quite to call it a metroidvania per se, but there are some aspects there.
 

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In addition, the game has various blocked paths and can only be unblocked by coming at them from different directions or doing certain tasks. This means that like a metroidvania, Endling - Extinction is Forever’s map opens up the more you explore it. A good example is the badger hole system. This is a rudimentary fast travel system, but when you first encounter the badger, she attacks you. But later, you find that a hunter has trapped her baby and so you save them. From then on, the badger allows you to use her holes and will join you in your den later. She becomes your ally.

Endling - Extinction is Forever is entirely non-verbal. And your relationship with the badger, other humans, and your kits are altogether non-verbal. The game somewhat proves that you don’t need words to connect with a story emotionally, and your interactions with the few friendly humans show this perfectly. There’s a little girl who will feed you when you approach her, and if you get even closer, she will pet you. It’s a shred of kindness in an otherwise immensely hostile world. And that is why, if seeing the suffering of animals hurts you, you should probably play this game anyway, because while it shows you a lot of suffering, it also shows you the good moments between animals and animals, and between animals and humans.

You encounter all of these people, animals, and environments as you explore the map, and the map is laid out as a series of paths you interact with from a 2D movement perspective. The best way to explain it is like this: Endling - Extinction is Forever is a 3D game, but you can only go left or right on any path you choose as if it were 2D. You can, however, switch up the path and go in a variety of directions, especially when using your sense of smell to find prey or to follow the game’s central narrative, which is not all that important in the grand scheme but continues the game’s themes and so does not need much elaboration. But to briefly explain it anyway: one of your kits gets kidnapped right at the beginning of the game, and you spend the game both helping your kits to survive and trying to find the one that went missing.
 

Endling - Extinction is Forever, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

Endling - Extinction is Forever is a game about our interactions with animals and the environment, and this is unavoidable. The game will show you a baby being stolen from its mother, a mother being injured in a trap, a world where humans have encroached further and further on animal habitats and forced them to live off the trash, a world where pollution is rampant, and they will even show you, in rather graphic detail, a chicken factory farm. It is never highlighted but is simply part of the environment. A reminder that while your fox mother and her kits are struggling to survive, they are at least free, these chickens don’t even get to be free.

Endling - Extinction is Forever is not a game for people who deny our destruction of the world. If you think that our pollution and constant expansion is a good thing, then this game may be uncomfortable for you as it doesn’t pull any punches. You can’t play the game without realizing that, to these creatures, we are the bad guy. Sure, as the fox mother, you are trying to escape specific humans in the game, but it’s more generalized humans that want to wear fox fur, and so that furrier wouldn’t try and kill you if there wasn’t a market for your pelt. The devs describe their game as an “eco-conscious adventure”, and it certainly is.
 


 

So, is this game recommendable? Most definitely. There can be a few finicky bits here and there; the traversal system can take some getting used to but is otherwise perfectly fine. It also crashed on one occasion, but subsequent early patches will probably sort that out. So, other than that, the game is most definitely one to recommend. Endling - Extinction is Forever is an experience worth having, and with a length of about four hours, it’s a tight, polished experience that doesn’t have any fluff.
 

Justin van Huyssteen (@LC_Lupus)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Herobeat Studios, HandyGames
Developer(s): Herobeat Studios
Genres: 3D Platformer
Themes: Adventure, Survival, Simulation
Release Date: 2022-07-19

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