While stealth games often have that innate sense of danger lurking around every corner (literally, and with cones of vision to boot), Endling - Extinction is Forever ups the ante by thrusting you into a bleak world where the survival of your entire species rests on your shoulders. Couple that with an apocalyptic setting and three helpless little cubs under your care and the stakes become unsurmountable. When the odds are stacked against you, do you fight to survive until the last breath, or do you give up and succumb to your inevitable fate?Table of contents:
You play as a Mama Fox that narrowly escapes being burned alive through the woods, and when you finally find respite inside a cave, you're later revealed to be pregnant with 4 cubs. The game wastes no time in snatching away that fleeting moment of joy, however, because as soon as you step out on your first night, one of your little babies gets kidnapped by a poacher - and it's a shame too, because the artwork here is incredible, and those kits are irresistibly adorable.
The difficulty level spikes in the sense that you'll encounter realistic challenges as you go about your day, like stepping into traps while on the scent of your cubs or having one of them lag behind because they just can't make that jump. When I first saw the icons on the bottom right of the screen that showed 4 heads for my cubs, I immediately felt an intense wave of dread wash over me. I somehow knew those 4 icons were there for a reason because they'll tell you how your cubs are doing - whether they're hungry, falling behind, or worse, dead.
And death really is everywhere here, because you'll not only bump into pesky furriers and sharpshooting scavengers, but you'll also sometimes venture farther and farther out from your lair just to find scraps to feed your babies, and inevitably, you might just not find food in time to keep them alive.
Endling is the type of game where a controller is a must to make your life easier. Thankfully, Utomik does offer controller support for most games, although I had to do a little bit of voodoo to get my DualShock 4 to work because my 8BitDo didn't want to.
As for the lineup of games on Utomik, the selection is a bit underwhelming for me at the moment, but it does offer the convenience of playing from anywhere with the Cloud. It's also a nice feeling to be able to browse through the library of titles there and just play whatever strikes my fancy with a single subscription, but I would probably wait a little bit more until more games join the 1400+ titles on the roster before committing.
That said, it does a great job of adding its own twist to what otherwise would've been a run-of-the-mill stealth game, and it doesn't hide its message at all in anything fancy or sugarcoated. What's even more tragic than a vixen keeping her babies alive is that every single obstacle you encounter out there in the wild has the same goal as you - they're all just struggling to survive for one more day, and that horrible truth is what makes every daring escape even more impactful.
Slipping through the clutches of the furrier only means he'll have to go home hungry and cold, or snatching a piece of fish from a beaver simply means it'll eventually starve to death too. It's a game that's filled with grey areas, and if you can get past the frustrating mobile controls, it's bound to stay with you long after the game ends.