The End is Nigh (Nintendo Switch) Review

By TJ 12.12.2017

Review for The End is Nigh on Nintendo Switch

The End is Nigh is a wonderful addition to the Nintendo Switch's library, with slick controls, daunting challenge, and a perturbing atmosphere. Developed by Edmund McMillen, the founder of the well-loved Team Meat, and Tyler Glaiel, known for Closure, as well as many prominent Flash games over the years, this title will feel quite familiar to many platformer lovers. The controls are incredibly tight, as to be expected from the creators of Super Meat Boy, while the difficulty curve takes no mercy and continually demands more. Boasting over six hundred levels, there is a vast amount of content to be mastered in this satisfying platformer.

The End is Nigh takes place in a post-apocalyptic world; the kind where most of everyone is dead, and the few that are left are, well, creepy. Fortunately, the protagonist is a somewhat lovable, one-eyed blob-human named Ash. He's seen better days, but his attitude is refreshing considering he's living in the end of days.

Upon starting a new game, the player is treated to an opening that momentarily breaks the fourth wall. Ash is seen talking directly to the audience about his favourite game cartridge, The End is Nigh, which is an absolutely gruelling section of the game that is not meant to be beaten.

Upon dying, the cartridge crashes, corrupts, and leaves Ash with no other choice but to wander out into the world in search of friends. By Ash's standards, this means collecting the many grotesque tumours that were left behind by the dead. That, and game cartridges, but these are much harder to find.

Screenshot for The End is Nigh on Nintendo Switch

Controls are the aspect of a platformer that truly makes the experience shine. Much like Edmund McMillen's Super Meat Boy, the movement is top notch. Moving around feels very responsive, and there is barely any time needed to start or stop. This creates a 1:1 feel with the analogue stick, and is a main reason why making precise jumps doesn't feel out of the player's hands. That being said, Ash falls faster than expected, and this can make catching ledges difficult. The consistency doesn't feel compromised, but there is a lot of practice needed to make it through some of the vertical sections.

Unlike other platformers where each level is selected from a map, Ash sets out from his house and is instantly in the first stage. There are twenty stages in each level, and they all have unique colour palettes, hazards, and themes that are maintained throughout the stages. The first three levels are: "The End," "Arid Flats," and "Overflow."

The End uses a very dark palette: black, blues, and greys, and is a dreary reminder of the world outside of Ash's home. The major hazards are falling buildings, which can only be used as platforms for a limited time before crumbling. Arid Flats offers Ash a view of a more rural environment. Breaking free from the death-laden city, the player is greeted with a refreshing palette of yellows, tans, and beiges. Along with this tone shift are creatures inhabiting the levels. Not only do they kill Ash, but they also scurry around the platforms in predictable loops. Progressing further, Ash makes it to Overflow, which is the third level that acts as a blend to the previous two. The major mechanical addition is that of water, which Ash can paddle through like a tadpole. Underwater movement is fluid, and it adds another layer on top of what is already implemented into the levels up to this point.

Screenshot for The End is Nigh on Nintendo Switch

It is an interesting concept to link everything up in this manner, and certain mechanics are made very clear in the first few stages. The major concepts that must be understood are: illusory walls exist and must be physically checked, stage events occur systematically and predictably, and that there is continuity between screens.

Many stages have small events that occur; whether that's falling buildings in The End or a tumour appearing from off-screen, they all have a trigger. Figuring out exactly when and where the trigger is will allow a player to plan for these events. In one particular instance, the tumour will only appear once Ash is halfway across the screen. Due to falling blocks, and the fact that the tumour appears on the leftmost side of the stage, it is actually easier to approach it from right to left.

There are a lot of secret areas to find on the journey, and many of them are hidden either above or below the linear path. Whether it is an alcove that can be walked through, a falling building that can be scaled to reach new heights, or perhaps a jump that can only be made off-screen, the important thing to note is that if an area seems impossible to reach, then a new angle of approach should be considered.

The challenge spikes in these secret areas, denoted as "???," but the reward for completing them is typically a mega tumour, which is worth five tumours. Luckily, the map contains information on which levels still have tumours to collect, as well as how many secrets need to be discovered.

Screenshot for The End is Nigh on Nintendo Switch

The rarest collectible to find are game cartridges, which are rewarded only in the hardest of secret areas. They allow Ash to return to his house and play them on his computer. Complete with in-game achievements and ten levels each, they add a lot of depth to an already content-heavy title. They all seem to have unique colour schemes, with a retro feel. While the graphics are simpler, the challenge feels more extreme.

Once Ash makes it to the areas beyond the first level, he is able to quickly travel to each area from the map. The problem is that it only drops him off at the first stage of each level. This poses a few problems that can impact progress, or at least slow it down. If tumours were missed on the tenth stage, then the two options would be to start at the beginning of the level or from the first stage of the next one and backtrack.

Another problem with this is that if a player returns to a previous stage before finishing an area, they must start over at the beginning of the unfinished area. Due to the difficulty ramp, this means that a player is subjected to content that has already been braved before actual progress can be made.

It is a somewhat cumbersome and frustrating flaw in the design, and unfortunately takes away some of the enjoyment from shorter game sessions. This title is excellent for handheld gaming, but a more lenient quick-travel system would have alleviated a lot of these issues, particularly with progression.

Screenshot for The End is Nigh on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The End is Nigh is chock-full of content that any hardcore platformer will enjoy. There are hundreds of tumours to collect, and over a dozen game cartridges to search for, along with nonlinear paths that require some exploration to find. The controls are wonderful, and besides a minor adjustment period, feel precise and responsive. Complete with multiple environments and hundreds of levels, the journey to unite Ash with friends and his favourite video games is a rewarding one that is definitely worth checking out.

Developer

Nicalis

Publisher

Nicalis

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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