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.
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 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.
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.
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.
- Stray nails every adorable and annoying cat behavior
- Evolve isn’t out until February 2015, but you can play it before then