The End is Nigh
Publisher: Nicalis, Inc.
Category: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Release Date: 12.12.17
The End is Nigh is the latest game from the co-conspirators of Team Meat, Edmund McMillen and Tyler Glaiel. The due first brought us Super Meat Boy in the wake of the explosion of indie titles on home consoles that began nearly a decade ago. Super Meat Boy was a testament of precise platforming that rewarded you both for rushing in and paying attention to the obstacles before you. It was a difficult test of reflexes and was not very forgiving.
The End is Nigh is set in a bleak, post-apocalyptic world with no remaining society and no remaining humanoid kinda things. The setting immediately reached out and latched on to me, much as our protagonist will do, as it is one of my favorite worlds to explore in all kinds of media. I am happy to report that The End is Nigh picks up exactly where Super Meat Boy left off and presents us with another challenging puzzle platformer. In The End is Nigh, we find ourselves taking control of one of the last remaining…things…left behind after a mass extinction event. It is playing its favorite game (which is like an Atari-style version of this game), and the cartridge finally gives out. To combat its inevitable loneliness, our head character decides that it must venture out in to the crumbling worldscape in search of another survivor to befriend and enjoy the rest of the end with. Or, at least, attempt to find a replacement game cart to while away the hours until your inevitable demise.
Our beloved devs are kind enough to give us a few screens of relative ease to practice our means of navigating a limbless slime around a decrepit world where the platforms aren’t guaranteed to stay whole and often find large chunks of what appear to be solid formations falling away as if they just needed one more featherfall to evaporate. These controls are communicated through pictographs on signs, which was a mighty convenient way of the few survivors that gave their lives in pursuit of something better to assist future travelers. You’ll be moving with a stick, dpad or direction buttons, jumping with , and holding ZR allows you to build up a little momentum for a running jump.
Every single screen is a well designed machine that requires you to discover your oath through trial and error. While it can sometimes be very obvious how you navigate the level, at first there are often times where you will fail because the platform you thought would rumble doesn’t, or the spiked ceiling that you know is going to crush you seemingly comes down a little more quickly than anticipated. This game will frustrate you but it will also reward you for your perseverance; clearing the many challenges that lie before you will always give you a sense of accomplishment. In addition, the game was made a little more forgiving by not generally making the screens too long in between an autosave. This way, when you fail (and you will), you won’t have to replay through multiple puzzles, just the one section you keep failing on.
The End is Nigh peppers talking skeletons throughout the adventure to help guide you to secret locations and items by using reverse psychology. They generally talk about something that sounds like an intriguing part of the game to pursue and then immediately discourage you from doing it as they did that and ended up dead. Perhaps these skeletons were somehow our sign painters mentioned earlier? These can be as simple as finding a extra little section to clear that wasn’t immediately obvious before or can be cool little collectibles.
The controls are well-tuned and collision detection is beyond pixel perfect. When you die in The End is Nigh, you will know exactly why it happened. It will be your fault and you will immediately start formulating a plan of attack for how to not die there the next time you go through. Sometimes, a single level will have around 3-5 (or more) of those scenario together and it just makes it that much more gratifying to navigate that minefield. You will feel yourself growing more confident and celebrating each successful run with beaming pride, only to make it to the next access point and be smacked back down to better build yourself up…again.
The End is Nigh is not a game for the faint of heart. It is squishy, violent and very unforgiving. It’s difficulties and depth of variety are daunting to some veterans of old Nintendo games. It is, however, a masterpiece of puzzle level design and the sheer variety of levels found within is staggering, especially knowing how much time and thought has gone in to making sure that everything falls in just the right way. I highly recommend this game, especially if you can spring for the physical version of Nicalis whom have packed that case with goodies.