The End Is Nigh
The End Is Nigh
Game Reviewed: The End Is Nigh
Publisher: Nicalis Inc, Edmund McMillen, Tyler Glaiel
Developer: Edmund McMillen, Tyler Glaiel
Reviewer: Naomi Norbez
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: M
Back in 2010, one of the biggest platformers of the year was Super Meat Boy, an indie game by Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes. Its tight controls, charming design, and huge amount of content was praised by fans and reviewers, garnering it critical acclaim.
Edmund McMillen has made quite a few games since then, but Super Meat Boy has been one of his most beloved. So it’s no surprise that, a few years ago, he released another take on the platformer genre: The End Is Nigh.
Unlike the bright and colorful SMB, End takes place in an apocalyptic future, where a survivor named Ash has just broken his favorite video game console. This forces him to venture outside and face reality, collecting tumors (yes, tumors) to craft them into a new friend.
I’ve reviewed one of McMillen’s games for the site before, and Super Meat Boy’s sequel is scheduled to release next year, so I figured now’s a good time to give The End Is Nigh a review.
Let’s see what the end of the world plays like, shall we?
What Parents Need to Know
This is a very hard platformer, which means you are going to die–a lot. This isn’t a graphic affair, however, you simply explode into a ball of goo, and then are sent back to the start of the level.
There is very strong language in the intro, with multiple instances of f***. This continues during the game’s dialogue, where f*** and s*** appear from time to time. The language appears to be the sole reason the game is rated M.
No accessibility options here–barely any options at all, in fact. I was hoping for options to alter the controls, or at least ones that can adjust the game’s difficulty, but it’s pretty barebones. Just volume settings and an anti-aliasing option–that’s it.
End isn’t as bright and colorful as SMB, but its melancholy art design takes on a life of its own, painting pale purples and plaid deserts that all look beautiful. The music also contributes to this: it’s both motivational, but also fitting for a dreary apocalypse.
I also love how personal this game is. McMillien described making it as a cathartic experience, and that the themes of perseverance in the game are a reflection of events of his own life as a game developer at the time. You can read more about that here, and I find it wonderful that he was able to take such experiences and gamify them like this.
A Child’s Perspective:
This is one of Edmund McMillien’s more mature games, grappling with ideas like existential loneliness, survivorship, and finding meaning. That said, it can still be played by children, if they want a challenge. Those who want an easier experience should avoid The End Is Nigh.
I love The End Is Nigh for its somber atmosphere, interesting levels, and gradual buildup of mechanics. The latter is something shared between most of McMillien’s games: slowly introducing new elements of design of game mechanics to a level, and then building on them. And I think it works great here.
The amount of content, like in Super Meat Boy is also enormous. It’ll keep any player busy, even if they’re experienced with hard platformers.
However, I do have one complaint: I don’t think this game is as well-designed as Super Meat Boy. With SMB, each level is easy to understand, but hard to complete; I can look at the layout and understand what my goals are, and how to get to them. With End, I always understand my goals, but there have been screens where I have no idea how to get to them! It doesn’t happen very often, but often enough to be frustrating.
Nevertheless, I do find The End Is Nigh to be a tough, rewarding experience overall, and I’d recommend you check it out. Can you survive the end of the world?
Naomi Norbez has been making, playing, and critiquing games since she was a kid. In her free time she makes text adventures, draws comics, and watches birds. She hopes you find her reviews helpful and values any thoughts on them you'd like to share.