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Stray isn’t the only emotional, postapocalyptic animal game out today

Annapurna Interactive’s Stray is the most noteworthy game releasing this week. It’s an atmospheric post-apocalyptic game that muses about humanity’s self-destructive tendencies and how nature will outlast us all. Oh, and it stars an adorable cat.

Stray‘s purrfect protagonist has garnered a lot of attention, in turn exposing people to an emotional experience about humanity’s impact on nature. But what if I told you it wasn’t the only environmentally friendly game starring a cute animal to launch today on July 19. Enter Endling: Extinction is Forever.

Developed by Herobeat Studios and published by HandyGames, Endling: Extinction is Forever is an adventure survival game that doesn’t pull any punches in showing how humanity decimates the environment and ruins the lives of animals that just want to survive. Both Stray and Endling: Extinction is Forever touch on the horrors of our global environmental crisis and humanity’s impact on animals and nature, and both are worth your time, even if Stray is the one dominating the conversation.

Endling - Extinction is Forever // Release Date Reveal Trailer

Extinction in real-time

From the start, Endling: Extinction is Forever doesn’t pull any punches. You play as a mother fox, running through a burning forest at the beginning of the game. She’s knocked off a cliff by a dying moose, almost hit by a car, and hides in a small cave. She gives birth to four cubs, which you can customize with different colors and fur features. It’s a memorable start to the adventure, and the struggles only continue from there.

One of your four cubs is kidnapped by a hunter at the start of the adventure, and from there, you explore with your three remaining cubs by your side. You’ll scavenge for food, teach your cubs how to dig, climb, and more as you encounter new obstacles, and learn more about the megacorp ruining what was once a lush area rife with wildlife. Your three remaining cubs can die in some situations, too, so the survival aspect of Endling: Extinction is Forever is emphasized just as much as the exploration of this ever-evolving map.

The fox carries a cub across a pipe as two other follow in Endling: Extinction is Forever.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The routes you explore constantly evolve as the game progresses, not just visually but in the obstacles you encounter. Areas that were once safe will have instant-kill guard dogs, making treks for food longer. The furry hunters roam the map, keeping you on your toes, and food appears somewhat randomly, so you aren’t guaranteed to get fed from the same spot every day. The game does an excellent job of putting you in the mindset of this miserable animal that just wants it and its cubs to survive while the world around it is doing everything to kill them.

A couple of strays

While Endling: Extinction is Forever is more tense and high stakes, it’s thematically similar to Stray. In Digital Trends’ Stray review, we noted that the game “delivers a socially conscious sci-fi narrative” and has a “clear environmentalist streak, for instance, digging into how humanity is poisoning itself out of existence.” Endling: Extinction is Forever tackles the same topic but shines a greater spotlight on letting the player see the downfall play out. You see people in the area ruining the environment before turning against each other and nearly being wiped out. The world is constantly changing in Endling: Extinction is Forever, and you can feel it, even as a fox.

A cat and an android talk in an alley in Stray.
Annapurna Interactive

It is never subtle with its themes, but it doesn’t need to be. There’s no dialogue, so you only experience this world’s downfall, as humans populate, build, and destroy it, as a fox that can’t do much to stop that downward spiral. It’s harrowing and pretty depressing but effective in getting its pro-environment and anti-capitalist message across. Meanwhile, Stray is a more optimistic game. Our review says it shows “a world where nature and technology have found a natural balance, undisturbed by the selfish chaos humanity can often bring to the equation.”

Although Endling: Extinction is Forever is more pessimistic than Stray as it more negatively demonstrates the direct impact of humanity’s actions, it’s an equally worthwhile indie game about nature that features a cute animal protagonist. In fact, these differences make Endling: Extinction is Forever a good companion piece to Stray. Its release is getting a bit drowned out because Stray is such a noteworthy and cute game, but if the themes of Stray interest you, consider checking out Endling: Extinction is Forever afterward, as it displays those themes in a tenser and more direct way.

Endling: Extinction is Forever is available now for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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Warner Bros. Games head David Haddad says that he is feeling optimistic about Warner Bros. Discovery's gaming division despite all of the chaos surrounding the merger between WB and Discovery.

"I do believe, especially moving forward, that we have a critically important role to play inside the company," Haddad says in an interview with Axios. In fact, he mentions that the gaming division is profitable and that there are no planned layoffs or cut projects from new higher-ups. "Warner Bros. Discovery leadership has expressed a strong belief in the growth of the games business and being part of that overall company strategy," he says.

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In a year when its parent company Embracer Group is making some major moves, THQ Nordic also clearly has some big plans for the future. The European publisher owns the rights to a lot of classic series like Alone in the Dark, Darksiders, and Gothic, and it has a reputation for reviving or rereleasing these classic franchises. As a result, it's always surprising to learn what the eclectic publisher has in the works.
Last year, THQ Nordic held its first digital showcase and announced follow-ups to Destroy All Humans, Outcast, and SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom. Its second annual showcase aired earlier today featured updates on titles we already knew about, like Outcast 2, confirmed a new Alone in the Dark reboot, and revealed some impressive new games such as Wreckreation. If you're curious about what THQ Nordic has in store, we've rounded up everything announced during THQ Nordic Digital Showcase 2022.
THQ Nordic Digital Showcase 2022
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Wreckreation gives players a giant racing game playground
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Everything else

A HandyGames sizzle reel showcased the sister company's Gamescom 2022 lineup.
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Space for Sale, a new base-building and resource-gathering simulation game, is coming to PC.
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Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - Direct Teaser Trailer
One of the month's last releases was also its best. Nintendo and Monolith Soft released Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on July 28, and it serves as a culmination of what the series has built toward since the first Xenoblade Chronicles title was released. While its combat system is pretty complicated, with MMO-like structure and character fusion, its standout story and faithfulness to the series' formula should please JRPG fans who are now getting a third Xenoblade Chronicles game on Nintendo Switch.
"If you get emotionally attached to characters, especially passionate ones who don’t want to hurt people and are just trying their best, then it’s a must-play," Jess Reyes wrote in Digital Trends four-star review of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. "You just have to be ready for an action RPG that isn’t always the picture of elegance -- and be prepared to live with those quirks through a long, long adventure."
One of the year's best video game narratives is packed inside one of its longest RPGs. But if you're a fan of Monolith Soft's RPG formula, there doesn't seem to be any reason not the check out this game. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is now available exclusively for Nintendo Switch. 
Stray - Gameplay Walkthrough | PS5, PS4
One of the other biggest games this month is Stray, an indie title from BlueTwelve Studio and publisher Annapurna Interactive about a cat exploring a post-apocalyptic cyberpunk city. For cat owners, Stray is a dream come true as it gamifies all the weird behaviors adorable cats are known for. Stray is a beautiful-looking game with a compelling story that only lasts five hours, so you should fit it into your gaming schedule if you can. 
"Much has been made about the game’s adorable feline lead since the game was first announced, but Stray isn’t just a cute gimmick; it’s a forward-thinking science-fiction game about our increasingly complicated connection with technology," Giovanni Colantonio wrote in his four-star review of Stray. "Between its clever (though limited) gameplay ideas and weighty social commentary, Stray is a special experience that works best as a futuristic mood piece. And a really darn cute one at that."
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Live A Live

The other big JRPG to release in July was Live A Live. This Nintendo Switch exclusive from Square Enix is actually a remake of Super Famicom RPG that never made it stateside. It's rare that games in this situation ever get a western release, let alone get remade, so this is a notable game just for that. Still, it manages to stand out even further thanks to its HD-2D makeover and its unique structure where players go through several separate adventures before they all come together in the end.
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As Dusk Falls

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