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Title: The End is Nigh
System: Nintendo Switch
Price: $14.99 (eShop) $29.99 (Retail)
Release Date: 12/12/2017
In this action platformer from the same minds behind Super Meat Boy, you take control of a small creature known as Ash, who sets out on a quest in the ruined world around him to create a new friend.
Visually, the game sticks to a hard-to-describe art style, that seems to be a mix of what was found in Super Meat Boy combined with someone going overboard on a paint program. It’s better to just look at it than for me to describe it.
The music ranges in quality throughout the whole adventure, and while I wouldn’t call the entire OST memorable, it is filled with well-composed tracks that don’t get irritating, and my favorite of the bunch is the soothing, mystical theme that plays whenever you find a secret area. (indicated by the name changing to “???”)
The main goal of each level across the multiple worlds is to make it to the other side of a screen unharmed, clearing one screen after the other before you reach the next world, which introduces new gimmicks to keep things interesting. For instance, the first world has a lot of falling platforms, the third world has a lot of watery mazes, the fifth world is based on keys and grant you the ability to unlock doors in previous levels that were once locked, and so on. The controls are really simple, with only a move, jump and crouch button being used throughout the entire adventure, and using those in combination with the environment is key to survival.
While Super Meat Boy was a fast-paced but difficult action game that was broken up in a level-by-level format, The End is Nigh goes with a more exploratory nature, with each screen being a mini challenge for the player to conquer. Dying is very easy as Ash suffers from having a one-hit death, but you respawn from where you entered the screen, which makes retrying these segments really easy until you finally get the hang of it. Of course, just clearing a screen isn’t the only challenge, as the main sidequest this game offers tasks the player with going after round black things known as Tumors, which hide in obscure parts of the screen and sometimes will only show themselves after you move to a certain spot on the screen. If you grab one and die, then it will be lost and you will have to try that screen again, which means that in order to keep the tumors you’ll have to do a screen all in one go, which is easy on the earlier levels, but becomes really tough a few worlds in. Luckily, the game lets you save and quit from the current screen you’re on, which makes this a lot better for pick up and play than Tiny Barbarian DX, which made you restart from the beginning of a section if you had to quit in the middle of one.
Off the beaten path you can find the occasional secret, which helps you get even more of the collectable tumors. Sometimes if you find an exit to a secret screen you’ll end up encountering a Mega Tumor, which will give you five at once and are usually guarded by really tricky challenges that make it even more rewarding once you complete them. The even rarer collectables are the game cartridges, which are hidden in places more obscure than the Mega Tumors.
These can be taken back to the beginning of the first world and played on Ash’s television, which will throw you into extremely hard levels that get even more insane as you collect more and more cartridges. Unlike the main game, you have limited lives in these mini-worlds, although the games do allow you to continue once if you lose them all. Doing well at these cartridges will net you tumors depending on how many achievements you collect, so it’s worth checking them out to add to your collection. It should be noted though that as far as I could tell, the steam achievements for the normal game are nowhere to be found in the game, at least not from the start. Whether it’s an unlockable feature remains to be seen, but the lack of said achievements could be seen as a minor hit against the replay value, considering how some of the achievements were given out as the only rewards for doing very, very cryptic and obscure challenges, such as clearing the bonus level at the very start of the game without dying.
In conclusion, The End is Nigh is a fun, fast-paced action platformer, and I had a really enjoyable time going after as many collectibles as I could in each of the tricky screens I came across. The save system makes this game perfect for the pickup and play nature of the Nintendo Switch, and being a well-controlled, solid platformer from start to finish helps a lot as well. The sheet amount of replay value from grabbing all the collectables and clearing the optional bonus challenges makes this game an absolute steal at the digital price of $14.99, although there is a $29.99 retail version that’s a bit harder to recommend.
Nevertheless, the only real fault I could find with this game came from the ambiguous nature of the achievements in this version of the game, since I’m not too sure if the ones for the main game are included or not as I haven’t quite finished the adventure as of this review, and they don’t seem to be from the get-go like the Steam Version. I’m rather close to beating it, so if I get any new info on the matter I’ll update the conclusion accordingly but as it stands right now it doesn’t seem like the Switch will offer those in-game, save for the ones that are linked to the cartridge levels. Nevertheless, this is a fun, challenging platformer that’s brilliantly executed and balanced fairly. The M-Rated humor doesn’t make it fit for everyone though, but those who can tolerate such shenanigans are in for a funny, excellent adventure. I give The End is Nigh a 9 out of 10, and strongly recommend it to all fans of platforming games looking for their next addictive fix for the Nintendo Switch!