Endling: Extinction Is Forever is a 2D side-scrolling adventure game developed by Herobeat Studios and published by HandyGames. You play as a mother fox attempting to survive with your cubs while the world is slowly decaying and natural resources are destroyed.

You and your cubs are the last of your species. Early in the story, a human trapper kidnaps one of your babies. So you have to protect and feed your remaining kin, all while teaching them new skills to make them less vulnerable. Skills like jumping and digging help the cubs become more self-sufficient and relieve a bit of parenting pressure. Each night you’ll explore more of your surroundings, following the scents of prey and even hints to the whereabouts of your missing baby. As time passes, your cubs grow, as does your bond with them. With such a simple premise and cute little foxes, I was instantly hooked.

Endling utilizes the day-and-night cycle. You travel in the evening, searching for food and following trails. Hunting for food is pretty one-note as you’ll sneak towards prey, pounce, and feed with ease. It’s understandably a short process as night cycles are short. Budgeting time well and managing risk versus reward is a challenge, as you’ll want to return back to your cave before morning to rest and avoid more enemies. I found myself constantly checking the map attempting to explore new sections of the world as it gradually opens up.

Outside of the tutorial, Endling doesn’t hold the player’s hand. The game invites you to explore at your own pace. Personally, I prioritized recovering the missing cub, and poor time management resulted in the death of some of the children. It was extremely heartbreaking to see my cub’s corpse, and the developers fully succeeded in triggering a poignant emotional response. Players may use this as motivation to replay and ensure everyone survives.

It’s incredible how the title can invoke such emotion with no dialogue. Whether I was dodging predators or sneaking past deadly traps, I always felt a level of pressure and anxiety to protect my skulk. This was only amplified when following narrative scents that replayed the kidnapping and witnessing how other human actions are negatively impacting the earth. It’s subtle, but with the narrative interwoven into the gameplay, it made me appreciate how emotionally invested I was in Endling.

Endling’s message is clear — we all must do better. We all have to do our part for not only our families but for our environment as well. The incredible narrative and core gameplay convey these ideas in a way that makes an engaging experience that much more heartbreaking and powerful.

Endling is available now on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC via Steam, GOG, and Epic Game Store for $29.99.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Endling – Extinction Is Forever.

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