The End is Deadly
As a spiritual sequel to 2010’s Super Meat Boy, The End of Nigh is a tough-as-nails reflex platformer that is designed to kill you, make you curse every word in the book, and put a satisfactory smile on your face all at the same time. In short, if you liked Super Meat Boy, you will need to play The End is Nigh.
Nicalis, continuing their solid streak of releasing high quality titles on Switch (Tiny Barbarian, Cave Story+, Ittle Dew2+), has taken this original PC release and ported it to Switch. The End is Nigh is developed by Edmund McMillen, one of the original creators of Super Meat Boy, and drawing a line between these two games is easy. Whereas Super Meat Boy was about twitch, slippery wall jumping, The End is Nigh is all about more accurate edge clinging and ledge launching. Instead of playing as a piece of uncooked meat, the player controls a black, one-eyed blob after the apocalypse has destroyed pretty much everything and killed everyone. Visually, this action platformer has more in common with Limbo than McMillen’s original game.
Unlike Super Meat Boy’s individual stages, The End is Nigh separates itself by linking individual screens into one bigger world. Each stage is viewed from a single screen where the goal is to get to the other side without dying from numerous traps and enemies while trying to optionally collect tumors, collectables that can eventually unlock new content. Once the player reaches a new screen, the game auto creates a checkpoint so players can restart at the beginning of that screen. But these screens are linked together to form one cohesive world, similar to, say, VVVVVV. Along the way, there are not only hidden tumors or but also secret unlockable mini games and hidden passages. In way, however, this checkpoint system can sometimes be abused by grabbing the collectable, then walking back to the previous screen just to reset the checkpoint with the collectable obtained.
While the concept of linking screens to form one world creates a stronger story, it makes backtracking cumbersome. Players looking to grab every hidden collectable will most likely go insane as players can only warp back to the beginning of the world, 1-1 for example. However, the player might have missed a collectable on 1-17. This means the player has to navigate through the first sixteen screens to get to 1-17. Even then, grabbing on the collectable might still be missed since some screens do not allow the player to backtrack due to environmental shifts, giving the player one chance. Since each and every screen is a challenge, this makes backtracking even more tedious, time consuming, and frustrating and stands as the title’s biggest short coming.
The End is Nigh is designed to make you die. And I am not talking about falling into a pit or running into an occasional enemy. No. When I say you will die, I am talking about dying hundreds, if not thousands of times. By the time I cleared the third world, I died over 300 times. But just like Super Meat Boy, there is something addictive about clearing each screen. It is the challenge that drives the player with that “just one more time, I know I can do this” mentality. Even though everything is out to kill you and you will die more than you will live, the process of restarting is made painless as the player is instantly respawned at the beginning of each screen without any delay. Also, each time Ash, the black playable one-eyed blob, is killed, he dies with this thwack sound effect that makes each death strangely satisfying. This sound effect and overall feel makes perseverance possible.
The gimmick behind The End is Nigh comes from the ledge grab technique. Instead of focusing on repeated wall jumps, Ash can cling to the lip of most platforms to vault himself upward, fall straight down by tapping the shoulder button, or launch himself horizontally. It is this launching mechanic that guides most twitch platforming segments as Ash can jump further and faster by ledge vaulting as opposed to a standard hop. Also, if the player holds the trigger at the end of a platform, Ash automatically falls and clings to the edge and can fall faster in the air or in water. Even though most platforming segments are geared around these simple mechanics, the gameplay rarely goes stale thanks to creative level design and sheer challenge; the toolset is limited but the gameplay is not.
Without question, The End is Nigh is challenging but also fun. Although each segment carries a high difficulty factor, the accurate controls makes the player feel responsible for every death as opposed to the game getting in the way. The amount of challenge might turn some players away but there is no reason Super Meat Boy fans will not like this title. Also, specially marked retail versions include a little goober Ash blob booger “action figure” thing, about the size of a nickel, and sort of looks like a piece of candy. Just be sure not to choke on this special physical bonus or that final jump on most screens.
Not To Be Confused With: Watchmen: the End is Nigh
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