Not to brag about my opulent lifestyle, but I have a garden. It’s constantly being broken into by a fox. This used to frustrate me, but after playing today’s game, I’ve decided the fox is more than welcome in my garden. In fact, take my house keys. I’ll live in the garden, and you enjoy the house. Clearly, your species deserves it more than mine. Also, please help yourself to my copy of Endling: Extinction is Forever, a great game that I never want to play again.
How can something starring so many adorable fox cubs be this evil? Endling’s assault on your heartstrings is enough to earn it a decent stretch in prison. Where’s the adorable fox game the box promised?
At least this bright blur of gorgeously animated orange fur is immensely satisfying to control. You can sprint, sneak, scrabble up trees, sniff out prey, and even lift one of your delightful cubs in your mouth and jog along with them. Shall we enjoy a couple screenshots of those cubs before it all goes horribly wrong?
Your main goal each day is to find enough food for your cubs before nightfall. Fruit from bushes, unlucky rabbits who aren’t fast enough, and no-doubt delicious delicacies from the garbage bags. In an undisturbed ecosystem, feeding your fox family daily would be no problem at all. But garbage bags don’t grow on trees, do they?
*calls an arboriculturist*
…No. Of course they don’t. But sadly, dumping garbage bags everywhere is one of the kinder things the humans are doing to your home.
Employees of Care Corp (hey, they sound great!) are enthusiastically polluting the forest, chopping down its trees, pouring trash into the river, pumping oily smoke into the skies, banning hugs, telling your one true love you don’t shower… and tragically, we only made the last two of those up.
Food becomes increasingly scarce, forcing your fox to journey further away from the relative safety of its shelter. Soon you’re left with no choice but to enter the dangers of human territory in your desperation to feed your children. This was around the time I started searching ‘happier fox game’ online and tried to justify writing about that instead.
But Endling can be fun too. There’s some stealth gameplay. That’s fun, right? You have to time your scampering between bushes so you don’t get… shot. The Game Over screen even helpfully informs you that your cubs won’t survive without you. F-fun!
OK, on the significantly brighter side, your cubs gain new skills as you play. The moment one of my cubs learned to climb a tree independently and fed the rest of the litter filled me with a sense of parental pride I wasn’t ready for. Should I adopt a child? And have them play these emotionally devastating games for me while I laugh and eat little cakes? Yes.
The last game we covered in this award-deserving series was Gibbon: Beyond the Trees, which tells a similar tale of the dangers of deforestation. However, where Gibbon was a self-proclaimed ‘hopeful game’, Endling is clearly more of a ‘glass half-empty and the water is our tears’ one. Yet we can’t help respecting its uncompromisingly blunt message. Experiencing how an animal’s life can be destroyed by deforestation is galvanizing enough to get us recommending getting involved with a reforestation organization like Ecologi.
We’ve written about Ecologi before, way back in 2021 when we were still young beautiful, and covered the sublime Alba: A Wildlife Adventure. Ecologi has got loads of great, practical ways to help you become climate-positive and carbon negative. Writing about them again has also reminded me I needed to update my payment details, so thanks, Endling – technically, you just saved some trees! (From my laziness). Take a look at their official website by clicking this very sentence!
Gamesforest.club is a great idea. They’re working with games/creative industries to encourage them to ‘invest in carbon absorption via planting and protecting rainforests.’ And while I’m brazenly quoting from their website: ‘All restoration activities in real life will be shown in its digital twin, the Gamesforest.’ Yep, that globe pictured above shows everyone’s contributions! Click this link to find out how you can cover it in more forest.
Endling gets a shaky thumbs up from one of my hands (the other is busy speed-dialing my therapist). It’s a loud wake-up call that doesn’t shy away from the bleakness of what we’re doing to the world. I respect it wholeheartedly, but boy do I miss writing about Animal Crossing…
Endling: Extinction is Forever is available on Nintendo Switch, Steam, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, and my nightmares.