The End is Nigh came out in July on Steam, but it’s the Switch version I’ve been waiting for, personally. From the same mind that brought us Super Meat Boy, Edmund McMillen and Tyler Glaiel’s new platformer is every bit as deadly, frustrating, and addicting as its predecessor. A sprawling platforming adventure set after the end of the world, you control Ash – a small squishy black blob of something. I’m fairly certain he’s a tumor, given that you spend the majority of the game collecting more tumors as though they were Moons in Super Mario Odyssey. When his favorite videogame breaks, Ash sets out into the deadly world to find friends and maybe repopulate the world. So… a really good friend, then? This is our The End is Nigh review for Nintendo Switch.
Like Super Meat Boy, Super Rude Bear Resurrection, 1001 Spikes, VVVVVV, and other hardcore platformers before it, The End is Nigh is incredibly challenging, but not punishing. There is no game over her, and no going back far away from your progress to make you do the hard content over again. You die? You start again on the same screen you died on. The End is Nigh is like a series of over 600 platforming puzzles. As you collect turmors and work your way farther and farther from your home, you find nasty squelching portals that you can use to go back home, port to old levels, and try them over to get any tumors you missed collecting.
The controls are simple enough. Jump, duck, and cling to hooks on the scenery (to jump from). There are also water levels where you’ll dive down, dodge floating hazards, and so forth. With over 600 unique puzzles to solve, and given their difficulty, The End is Nigh is going to last most players a good long while. For those that are completionists, it’ll last you even longer. Heck, by the 10% mark, I’d died over 350 times. Thankfully, while you die a LOT, it’s because TEIN is about perfecting a series of jumps or movements, and there’s always at least one way to solve each stage of the game. You just need to figure out what it is. Deaths and reloads happen very fast, so there’s hardly ever any waiting around to try and try again.
The trouble with The End is Nigh is that it’s always unclear what you’re working towards. As pitch perfect as the platforming is, there’s little to no reward other than the satisfaction that you’ve made it one screen further. There are sort of mini-games to collect and use back at Ash’s home, but that doesn’t quite feel like a reward so much as an easter egg. I never felt like I was truly accomplishing anything except for getting one screen more into the crazy adventure. Perhaps that’s its own reward, but I’m not sure that it’s enough for all but the most hardcore gamers to endure the brutality. There are however three different endings to earn, each one of them rewarding and funny in their own way.
In the end, The End is Nigh is one of the premiere indie gems on Nintendo Switch. Difficulty and rewards issues aside, this one’s immensely replayable, hilarious, and genuinely well designed in both sound, visuals, and gameplay. It’s the kind of game that may drive you nuts with its difficulty, but only because you know that you’re the one making the mistakes. Failure is only present because you didn’t do the right thing, and not because the game’s cheating the player. It’s a fun game, even if you wring your hands during it. It’s $15 on the eShop, and $30 in store with the usual beautiful work of Nicalis’ physical publishing.
Compare to: Super Meat Boy, Super Rude Bear Resurrection, VVVVVV
Note: Our copy was digital and provided by Nicalis for review purposes.