Some games release and are immediately applauded merely because of who made them. The question is; is that ovation warranted for Edmund McMillen and his latest tough-as-nails 2D platformer?
Edmund McMillen (the co-creator of Super Meat Boy) has teamed up with Tyler Glaiel to develop a brand new challenging 2D platformer. The End Is Nigh stars a black blob known as Ash who's on a journey to find a friend after his game console breaks and the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where only bizarre oddities inhabit the Earth.
The visuals are minimal with various areas that primarily differ in their colour scheme. This may sound cool but the environments begin to feel monotonous almost right off the bat because there's very little variety. Not only that, it's difficult to work out what things are when you play in a well-lit area due to the lack of contrast and overall blandness. On the other hand, the audio is fantastic complete with appropriately disgusting sound effects and sinister piano-based melodies. The voice acting is okay but it's wacky and over-the-top and is therefore a bit too obtrusive and obnoxious, especially due to the unnecessary and overused swearing.
The End Is Nigh is played a lot like Super Meat Boy although you have a lot less freedom as Ash can only cling to corners and hooks as opposed to any wall. This creates a puzzle-like element in that figuring out how to progress often relies as much on your ability to dissect situations as it does your skill. It's simple yet challenging which is good but does it remain fun throughout the campaign?
Unfortunately, the stage designs are set up in a way that trial and error becomes the primary method that you'll use in order to progress. Whereas similar games are most fun when they rely solely on your skill and reflexes, The End Is Nigh will force you to replay the same brief rooms over and over again until you work out how to pass them. For example, it's nearly impossible to know where certain structures will fall on your first attempt. Therefore, you have to play once to understand what will happen then at least once more to actually progress. This formula becomes tiresome almost immediately although there are a couple of nifty gameplay mechanics that get introduced throughout such as swimming and hopping on specific enemies to get a little boost.
The End Is Nigh's campaign is massive and contains hundreds of rooms to master. You'll uncover collectible tumors and discover hidden paths and mini-games as you play. These aspects add a ton of replay value but that also leads me to another downside. The campaign is set up in a way that you're eventually forced to backtrack and collect as many tumors as possible. Halfway through, you're granted a limited number of lives depending on how many tumors you collected and the final area can be brutal. For example, if you obtained less than 500 tumors (which equates to 50 lives) then you'll have a much more difficult time completing the game. Also, in order to replay stages and collect everything, you have to play through a whopping 20 rooms in a row because you can't select individual levels.
If Super Meat Boy is Edmund McMillen's gold medal then The End Is Nigh receives a bronze at best. With repetitive gameplay and unintuitive progression, you won't be missing out on much by not playing this 2D platformer.
- + Simple yet tough 2D platforming
- + Well-done music and audio
- + Large campaign with loads of replay value
- - Stages rely too much on trial and error
- - Dull visuals / hard to see in well-lit areas
- - Awful progression system that forces you to play large portions again