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The End is Nigh impressions

SUPEEEEEER MEAT BOOOOOOOY! Okay not really. But this is a game made by Edmund McMillen of Isaac and Meat Boy fame. And Tyler Glaiel, someone I never heard about before (sorry dude, this game is good though!). So I was pretty excited to try this out.

I’m not done with the game, which is why this isn’t a review. I’m around halfway through now, and I’m going through it pretty slowly. But I figure it’s about time I write about it. So if you want to consider this a review go for it I guess, but know that I haven’t played the whole thing yet.

So let’s go!

Presentation

It’s pretty simple. You play as a black… blob with one eye. He’s called Ash. About everything in the game is cool colored backgrounds with some kind of post-apocalyptic scenery, and black platforms/spikes/enemies (sometimes with eyes and stuff). Basically it’s silhouette levels: the game. The game takes place after some kind of apocalypse, Ash seems to be the only “normal” living thing left, and he’s looking for a friend (specifically a head, heart and body to put together… okay). You travel across the wasteland, collect tumors (I don’t get it either), and try to find these body pieces. You travel to all sorts of weird areas, including a place that looks like hell.

The most striking part of the presentation is the music. It’s all classical music, but remixed/covered. Given a bit of a more rock feel. I happen to love classical music (even though I’m not intimately familiar with it), so I had a blast so far. In the Hall of the Mountain King, the 5th Symphony, Flight of the Bumblebee, Night at Bald Mountain, Hungarian Dance and a crapload of others that I don’t remember the names of. They’re quite well known pieces though, you’ll recognize them when you get to them. Plus there’s also 8-bit-style covers of most of the songs in the game.

Overall I like the presentation. As far as usability, in general it’s pretty clear what’s gonna kill you and what you can stand on. So I have little to complain about. There is some plot stuff that I still haven’t gotten to, but I did just get a big random plot twist that was pretty funny.

Gameplay

The game is said to have over 600 levels. After getting about 50% through, I can totally see that. There’s a LOT here. Basically there’s several areas you go through, and they’re connected physically. Once you get to a new area you can teleport to the start of it from anywhere. Some of the “start points” are crossroads, so you can pick where you go first.

The game itself is a series of single-screen platforming challenges. Hit anything that’s not a platform, or fall down a hole, and you die. You respawn a second later though, so dying isn’t a big deal. You have a specific jump height, and lots of air control. The big mechanic though is hanging off platforms, or “hooks” on the sides of walls. Holding the direction opposite of the wall you’re hanging off from gives you a jump that’s not very high but goes a lot further, but also has slightly less air control.

The game does keep it interesting though. It’s not just platforms and holes and spikes. There’s spots of the levels that, when you touch them, will cause platforms to move (sometimes leading to hidden areas). There’s guns that will shoot at you. There’s chain chomps that will rush at you. There’s poison clouds that will kill you if you stay in them for more than 3 seconds. There’s water to swim through that will also kill you if you stay under it for too long. And a bunch more stuff. Every new area has some new thing that exists to fuck with you.

So every screen has a tumor to pick up. They’re black blobs that are smaller than you. Collecting them isn’t enough though, you need to collect them and leave the screen you’re on (whether it be the exit or the entrance of the screen… which is very useful in some cases). If you die you need to collect it again. Having a certain number of tumors lets you go into big blob dudes, which leads to other levels. I’m sure they give access to other things, I dunno. Through these and other levels you can find game cartridges, which you can use in Ash’s “house” on his NES, which leads to “8-bit” levels with limited lives. All this to say there’s lots of levels.

Overall

The End is Nigh is not just Super Meat Boy with another skin. It plays very differently. It has a similar smoothness to it, but that’s really it. The base gameplay of clinging to the side of platforms and having different kinds of jumps feels very different from SMB’s wall sliding/jumping/running jumps. Both are precision platformers but both handle the precision differently, at a different scale.

That said, The End is Nigh is a huge game. There’s a TON of screens to go through, there’s a collectible to get in every single one of them (I believe except for the NES levels). Plus you will die. A lot. I’m a bit above 50% done, and I have 1701 deaths. Some are intentional, but yeah, you die a lot. But just like Super Meat Boy, you respawn right away, so it’s never frustrating. Difficult, but never cheap.

So yeah, check it out. I’ll be powering through it still.

(Coming later to Switch and PS4)

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