Special thanks to the Nicalis Inc for sending us a review copy.
The End is Nigh is the latest release by Indie darling, Edmund McMillen. The game was released on Steam a couple of months ago, but it’s making its console debut on the Switch on the 12th of December. The games publisher, Nicalis Inc. was kind enough to send us an early copy of the game for review purposes. Now I need to put my cards on the table, I’m a huge Edmund fan. I’ve been following his work since I found him on Newgrounds, and I’ve purchased Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac and The Basement Collection on their first days of release. So naturally, I have huge expectations for The End is Nigh. There hasn’t been that much buzz surrounding the game, which is a bit strange. The game has a short time between announcement and release, probably because Edmund wanted to avoid another Mewgenics fiasco. So does The End is Nigh surpass Edmund’s previous work or should people pass on it? This is PushDustIn with Source Gaming and let’s get started with this review.
The End is Nigh starts with Ash streaming his favorite game, The End is Nigh. Once the player fails at the game, the game cart will break causing Ash to freak out. He decides to look for a friend and to restore his favorite game. However, Ash is the only being alive in the world, so he must traverse dangerous obstacles to build a friend. Each area is themed and contains its own music. For the first world, “The End” players will need to jump on collapsing buildings while the second world, players will need to jump on trampolines and enemies in order to gain height. The End is Nigh is a bit light on its narrative. The skeletons or the monsters that Ash can speak to don’t add to the narrative, but instead usually provide hints, or at some places distract Ash so enemies can kill him. While The End is Nigh is a bit light on story content, the main appeal of the game is, of course, it’s gameplay.
The End is Nigh is a hard as nails 2D platforming game. It’s a bit like Super Meat Boy, where players will need to avoid enemies, spikes and whatever the game throws at the player. However, unlike Super Meat Boy, there is a world, in The End is Nigh. Levels connect with each other, and players are not only trying to reach the end of the screen but advance to the end of the area. This is probably best used in the area called “The Machine” where players will need to often backtrack to explore new areas. There are also secret areas, which can reward the player with game carts or tumors. Ah yes, tumors. In most screens, Ash can pick up tumors, which at first are a seemingly irrelevant collectible. Without ruining the story twist, players will need a lot of them for the second half of the game as they will act like lives. The End is Nigh strikes a great balance between the ‘throw yourself at the obstacle until you complete the level’ style of Super Meat Boy and requiring planning and patience to complete the level. Another noteworthy fact of The End is Nigh is that there is no RNG in the game. Upon death, the screen will reset. This makes it a great game to speedrun, and to learn as enemies will always be predictable.
In addition, the game features several game carts that can be collected through the areas. These game carts will reward skilled players with extra tumors and provide even more challenge. The End is Nigh is a very difficult but rewarding game. I was overwhelmed with excitement whenever I completed a particularly tough challenge. The addition of tumors, much like bandages in Super Meat Boy adds additional platforming challenge to the game. However, with The End is Nigh there are even more challenges and levels than Super Meat Boy. The End is Nigh took me about five or six hours to complete the first part of the game. As of writing this review, I haven’t completed the second part, but I expect that I’ll spend another 5 hours of collecting additional tumors and completing the second part of the game.
Lastly, let me briefly discuss the controls of the game. Just like Super Meat Boy, The End is Nigh has extremely tight controls. The game slowly introduces new mechanics over the course of the areas. There isn’t a lot, Ash isn’t that versatile as his predecessors but the skills he does have are put to extremely good use. With Super Meat Boy players had access to a wide range of characters with different abilities. With The End is Nigh, players only have Ash. This means everything is designed around him, which makes for a tighter experience in my opinion. In addition, the retro style game carts have the same controls as the normal game which means practicing in the normal levels will help players “get gud” in the retro levels and vice versa.
So we discussed how great the gameplay is, let’s talk about the presentation of the game.
The End is Nigh is a great looking and sounding game whether the Switch is docked or in portable mode. There doesn’t seem to be any dips in framerate while playing the game. The soundtrack is remixes of classical music, and sounds fantastic. There are a couple of sound effects I just didn’t like, so I would temporarily mute the game during those screens.
The game doesn’t feature a lot of options. For the short video clips, there isn’t even closed captioning, which is a bit disappointing. Players can create up to three save files, and the game autosaves real quickly. The game also loads extremely fast. When dying, players won’t have to wait long until they are back in the action, which makes The End is Nigh extremely addictive.
There are some areas where it’s difficult to fully tell where players can safely stand, or obstacles will blend in with some backgrounds. These issues tend to be on a few screens.
So how does it all add up? Let’s tally up the score!
All in all, The End is Nigh is another fantastic addition to the ‘hard as nails’ platforming genre. If you enjoyed Super Meat Boy, you will love The End is Nigh. Players looking for a challenging game, or for fans of Edmund’s work should play this game.
I give The End is Nigh a 4.75 out of 5.