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Review: The End is Nigh (PC)By Insanoflex At 03.02.2018 16:01

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The End is Nigh has an auspicious beginning the moment the protagonist, Ash, speaks. In the animated cut-scenes, the player-character is voiced by none other than the beautiful and bodacious Rich Evans of Red Letter Media fame. Rich Evans is a natural for the character of Ash and brings his A-game for all the boys in the yard to come and swoon. Ash (like Rich Evans in real life) is a gross, tumescent blob who loves to play videogames, and his quest begins when his console breaks down. He must travel the post-apocalyptic wastelands to collect tumours in the hope of assembling a new friend. This is a bulk of the game's plot until much later in the game, which in itself is a bit of a joke story for the sake of some brutal platforming... or so it would seem. Gamers with stamina and nerves of steel who make it to the much later sections of The End is Nigh and manage to see one of the multiple bleak endings will understand, and the joke of collecting tumours starts to take on a new meaning. Underneath the crude humour, Ed McMillen has a real creative style for storytelling that is rarely seen and also will likely be grossly misunderstood.

In many ways, The End is Nigh is like a sequel to Super Meat Boy. The End is Nigh, for the most part, makes some headway to try to deepen the established gameplay from its spiritual predecessor. The stages are now connected in a logical way instead of each room being independent. McMillen takes full advantage of this kind of level design by having some insane challenges that will test players' mettle and will often require some absurdly high skill and intuition. It's the same kind of kaizo style difficulty from Super Meat Boy, but this time it's in semi-Metroidvania worlds. Since every room's entry/exit point is a check point, progress is never too hard, but the challenge does not really fit the mindset of an exploration type affair. It can almost feel like each world is like a puzzle in how to Ash can navigate due to how obtuse some of the rooms connect. On the other hand, the high difficulty also makes the smallest bit of progression feel extremely satisfying, which ends up making The End is Nigh extremely hard to put down.

Ash controls extremely smoothly and fluidly - like how a squishy, filthy, greasy, and disgusting tumour voiced by Rich Evans should control. The feel and tightness from Super Meat Boy is more or less present in The End is Nigh, but instead of wall-jumping, Ash is going to have to rely more on precision platforming and exploration for collectibles. Seeking out tumours is all well and good, but the real reason to dare to take some of these excursions is for the illusive retro game cartridges. Each one of these is like a mini-game, which is far more challenging than anything else found in the core and comes in an ultra low detail pixel art style. The carts are generally mostly the same low-fi version of the main action but with a theme or skin to give them a bit of flavour. The reason why anyone would want to try to play these carts, which are the Super Meat Boy equivalent to the retro bonus stages, is for more tumours. It must be stressed that the tumours in The End is Nigh are utterly crucial for the later sections. Without the risk of spoiling, it is highly suggested that anyone who dares to play The End is Nigh should gather as many tumours as humanly possible.

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Anyone who enjoyed [i]Super Meat Boy[/i] is likely to have a good time with [i]The End is Nigh[/i]. Both games are very similar, with the latter being a somewhat more mature and thought-provoking platformer. Ed McMillen knows how to make his games hard and addictive and that has not changed here. Sometimes the unrelenting challenge can lead to fatigue, yet at the same time that sensation of being worn out and battered is extremely fitting considering the portentous atmosphere in the later sections. There really is no other talent like McMillen working in the industry. The man crafts simple and easy to pick up games that are extremely difficult, yet at the same time combine sardonic wit, dark humour, and a foreboding solemness.



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