LifeisXbox’s Endling – Extinction is Forever review | In Endling – Extinction is forever, you play as the last mother fox in a world ravaged by humans. Shortly after the intro sequence, you give birth to four cubs, and it’s your task to keep them safe and their bellies full.
It doesn’t take long for disaster to strike and one of your little ones gets poached by a hunter, adding a rescue mission to your already daunting task of survival. Every day, you’ll need to venture out into the wilds in search of food and possibly some clues as to what happened to the missing cub.
I’ve always been drawn to games featuring animals, so playing this was a no-brainer, especially after the impactful demo that let me play the first half hour.
Most Memorable Moment
I won’t spoil the “MOST” memorable moment here, so instead, I’ll share one of the cutest: At the start of the game, when the cubs finally dare to venture outside the nest, they get to play in the snow and all was right in the world. If this doesn’t warm your heart, I don’t know what will…
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by Handy Games, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Great visual & sound | Endling looks amazing and while it’s not an Xbox Series X optimized title (yet?) you won’t be able to tell because of the amazing art direction. You can screenshot almost any moment of the game and end up with a picture worthy of a frame. The audio is amazing as well, giving some added emotional impact to the important scenes, with violins plucking at your heartstrings.
- Cute foxes | This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but cute animals really are a huge selling point for me. The interactions between the mother fox and her cubs can be truly heart-warming. You can comfort them when they are scared or pick them up by the neck to help them across gaps. And yes, you can get them petted if you find one of the rare nice people still left in the world.
- Cubs can learn skills | Your cubs start following you around as soon as they are able and by interacting with the world and seeing their mother in action, they learn new skills. They can squeeze inside tight gaps to reach for food, climb up trees, or even disable traps. Note: these are optional skills, as I ended my game with two of them not found.
- Using your scent is an interesting mechanic | With the press of a button, you can sniff around to find any nearby prey to feed to your hungry cubs, indicated by a green trace that you can follow. On certain days, you will also see a purple line of smell, which will bring you to items that are connected to the hunter that kit-napped your wee one and finding all three will bring you closer to potentially rescuing it.
- Finding food | Normally I dislike simulation games where you have to keep everyone fed, healthy and happy, but Endling never felt like that. Instead, it was actually a rush to find something to eat before one of your cubs succumbed to hunger, and I was always a proud mom when their hunger bar was full and I even had a spare pigeon in my mouth for when they needed a little snack.
- Navigation | Getting around in Endling can be pretty confusing, as the fox really only moves left or right, but can climb up or jump down from ledges. I constantly had to open my map to check if I was going in the right direction. Luckily, when it’s most important, the game lends a helping hand: when the night is almost over and you need to run back to your nest, it will indicate where to go with a pointer on-screen.
- Getting lost | While points of interest are marked on your map each day, I did get lost twice, following the purple scent in search of my lost cub. It turns out that the game ALWAYS keeps this trail visible, even if you take a badger hole as a shortcut and it can lead to a lot of time wasted, looking for an item that isn’t even nearby. I suspect one of these instances is what caused me to be unable to get the “good ending” as my time was up before finding all the clues.
- Heart-breaking | While I always kept my cubs fed, the achievements made it clear to me that it’s possible to lose one of them if you don’t manage to keep it safe. I did never manage to save number 4 and was even under the impression for a while that it was a sneaky way for the developers to highlight how futile survival can be in a world that seems programmed to kill you. Without spoiling the actual ending, I can share that I shed a few tears before the credits rolled. This is only in Mixed Feelings because I obviously don’t enjoy negative emotions like sadness, but it is nevertheless an achievement for the game to bring me to feel such raw emotion.
What we Disliked
- No checkpoints | The game saves every time you arrive at your nest. Sadly, this means that NOT reaching it will mean that you have to replay the entirety of the night. I’ve had frustration kick in big-time when I was running back after a pretty long sequence and forgot about the sniper only meters away from the safe place. Playing that same night three times in a row had me screaming into a pillow.
- No NG+ or chapter select | While I get the reasoning behind this, extinction is forever is the subtitle of the game even, I would have really appreciated a save-file right before the game’s ending so I could go back and find some of the last missing clues or cub skills. Instead, I’ll have to replay the entire game from scratch, and the gameplay loop did become kind of tedious towards the end.
How long to beat the story | ~4 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | It should be possible to beat 100% in ~5-6 hours if you know what you’re doing but will most likely take two playthroughs, one of them with a guide.
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.