Endling, an upcoming game from Herobeat Studios, wants us to face the consequences of climate change, deforestation and other environmental issues head on.
As a human – part of the species who is responsible for the destruction of the planet – Endling’s premise is somewhat painful. And while the story it tells isn’t quite Earth’s reality just yet, it easily could be. You see, Endling tells the story of a mother fox – the last mother fox left, in fact, as the rest of the fox population has been wiped out. Having just given birth to four beautiful cubs, she does everything she can to protect them from the harsh world around them. But that’s easier said than done.
You may have seen or heard of Endling before; it was first revealed back in 2019. But we’ve recently been privy to a 30-minute gameplay demonstration, getting a deeper understanding of the game, its message, and how it plays out. And suffice to say, it’s going to be heartbreaking.
A human working nearby snatches one of the cubs while the rest of the foxes are sleeping – after all, seeing a near-extinct animal out in the wild is rare, and his curiosity causes him to box up the cub and take it away. And so, alongside keeping her other cubs safe and fed, mama fox also needs to find her missing baby.
Endling plays out like a side-scrolling platformer, but this isn’t a Mario-like joyous celebration as you jump from ledge to ledge. Rather, it’s about carefully stepping through your environment, looking out for threats, and hiding in the shadows when necessary. When your cubs are tiny, you’ll need to find food and take it back to them in their shelter. Eventually, though, they’ll be big enough to come with you, trailing behind as you lead the way.
We’ve only seen a small slice of Endling so far, but it’s safe to say this is going to be an emotional journey. What really stands out almost immediately is the game’s gorgeous, though melancholic, soundtrack. There’s a neat feature where each fox cub has their own musical ‘motif’. When all four cubs are together, each motif plays along with the soundtrack, making a full melody. But if a cub is no longer there, their motif will be absent from the song. The game is a way off yet but we’re already devastated at the thought of losing the cubs.
Give the game’s trailer a watch below. There’s no release date for Endling just yet, but it’s coming to PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC. We’ll share more information as it becomes available.