Edward McMillan is back along with hardcore indie dev Tyler Glaiel to punish us all once again. The End is Nigh is yet another screamingly hard platformer from The Binding of Isaac and Super Meat Boy mastermind. Featuring the same grim sensibilities as his other titles,The End is Nigh begins at the end of the world featuring the world’s only survivor; Ash, a black blob. Ash is playing The End is Nigh when the cartridge breaks, and this event sends him out into the world to try to literally make a friend or at least find some more game cartridges.

Gameplay: This game is tough, DAMN tough, but it’s never unfair. There was more than one occasion that I felt like laying on the floor, curling into a ball and crying. Being in my 40’s the old video game twitch-reflexes are not what they used to be. The game consists of well over 600 single screen levels broken up into 12 chapters. You can just move screen to screen trying to make progress, but there are black tumors to collect on most screens as well as many new game cartridges.

Attempting to collect these items only adds even more challenge to the all ready Herculean task of just trying to survive. The game starts with a low level of difficulty, but it doesn’t take long for the challenge to ramp up. I thought it was pretty hard rolling into chapter 2 and 3 but the hell this game unleashes on you as you progress is NO joke. The feeling you get when you get past a truly difficult screen is pure elation, however, and you feel like you’ve accomplished something truly great.

Controls: The controls are basically jump and pray, you move with the left stick and jump with B. As with all of McMillan’s games, the jumping controls are super tight and feel great. There is no room to second guess yourself and usually no time as well. You can jump to platforms, jump on hooks that allow you flip up to a surface, or you can also do a long-jump that can get you out of some tricky situations. Just a heads up, you will die…a LOT, and the game gleefully lets you know just how bad you are by reminding you of your number of deaths.

Graphics: The game is dark, from the subject matter to the games very look and feel. Everything is black and grey, featured in a kind of silhouette art style. The cityscapes and setpieces you visit are crumbling remains of all that’s left after the apocalypse. The graphics do a great job of reminding you of the hopeless situation Ash is in.

Surfaces crumble as they are touched. Ash fills the sky. Debris fills this world. The visuals are very important to the feel of the game.

Music/Sound: The sound effects are especially well done from the aforementioned crumbling buildings, to the wind that whips you along. This version of the apocalypse sounds sad, lonely, broken, and actually kind of scary.

It’s the music however, that really ties the visuals, gameplay, and art style together. The soundtrack is provided by Ridiculon, the same person that scored The Binding of Isaac. As you listen, you’ll notice it’s eerily familiar, but something about it just seems wrong. The music is subtle but creepy and seems like the perfect accompaniment to the end of the world.

Upon doing further research it seems Ridiculon took classical music, mashed it up, sampled it, and completely reconstructed it into the creep fest we have now. It’s brilliant and bizarre at the same time.

Summary: The End is Nigh is an Edward McMillan game all right. A twisted story, multiple endings, razor sharp platforming, all in a tight package that that makes you question humanity. The game plays great, is challenging, and it is truly satisfying when you cross the finish line.

Pros

  • Hard as nails gameplay will keep you coming back
  • Dark visuals will keep you in the mood
  • Eerie music will chill you

Cons: 

  • Hard as nails gameplay will keep you crying
  • The few save points will raise your blood pressure
  • Super depressing story might not be for everyone

Rating: B

Disclaimer: A digital copy of the game was provided by Nicalis for review purposes.

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