How Endling - Extinction is Forever Puts You in The Mind of An Animal?

How being a fox mother in a game can help you sympathize with animals in reality.

By LCLupus, Posted 19 Jul 2022

Endling – Extinction is Forever puts you into the mind of an animal, and it does so in a variety of ways that will be explored throughout this article. Firstly, we published the Endling - Extinction is Forever review today for those unfamiliar with the game. So, have a look and if it interests you, this article should be a good companion piece. But in case you don’t want to read it: this game puts you in the paws of a fox mother as she cares for her kits in a world slowly being destroyed by the humans in it. So, let’s get to it.

Endling - Extinction is Forever, PC, Opinion

The Senses:

Human beings are accustomed to one sense above all others: sight. This is why it can be challenging to play a game that does not use that particular sense, such as the fairly recently reviewed Apotheorasis: Lab of the Blind Gods, which uses no visuals whatsoever and instead relies on hearing alone. Now, Endling – Extinction is Forever does not do anything like this because it would be immensely difficult to emulate a noise-only environment with the particular game that it is. But it does center smell.

We cannot easily depict smell in games, and when it has been done, it’s been rather disgusting, but Endling – Extinction is Forever centers smell well by dedicating an entire button to that sense alone. This is aided by the fact that you can never see particularly far in either direction while playing. The camera does not allow you to see much, and this emulates the way in which many animals do not use sight the way we do. They do not need to see all that far because their noses are far stronger than ours.

This allows the game to present scent as a principal component of the protagonist’s abilities. She can smell her way towards food when it is far out of sight, and she can also smell her kits when they’re in the distance. Endling – Extinction is Forever does not want you to rely on ordinary human senses because plenty of games already do that. This game wants you to understand that there are ways of experiencing the world inaccessible to humans. Ways that are very accessible to foxes. And this game allows you to get the smallest of whiffs of that reality.

Endling - Extinction is Forever, PC, Opinion

The Struggle to Survive:

We humans have become accustomed to so many things. Food is generally quite plentiful for us, but things are quite different for the animals we share our world with. Endling – Extinction is Forever forces you into an existence that centers food above all else. Life is a constant struggle to find the food necessary to survive. Starvation is always around the corner.

This may not be the reality for the animals we share our society with, such as dogs and cats, because they get food directly from us. But the same cannot be said for wild animals. Endling – Extinction is Forever puts you in the body of a fox, so it would be best to focus there for this particular piece, but this same logic can be applied to various creatures. So, foxes are omnivores. They will eat whatever they can find. They do not eat meat alone. This means that the game puts you in the paws of a creature that hunts, scavenges, and forages.

We, humans, are used to getting our food pre-packaged for our consumption, in nice little plastic packets. But the fox mother in Endling – Extinction is Forever, and the many other creatures in the real world must constantly search for and kill their food. They must actively search for it and often struggle to find it. And there are many times in the game where you simply struggle to find anything at all. You can see that your kits are starving, but you just can’t find any food. And so, you frantically search everywhere, but some humans have blocked the way to the bushes you know have some berries! This is not a problem humans typically deal with, but it is one that the many creatures around the world face on a daily basis.

Endling - Extinction is Forever, PC, Opinion

The Need for Care:

Many people in this world believe we should do everything on our own. Be independent! Rely on no one! But this is an unrealistic way to be. And the animals around us know this without having to philosophize about it. They care for their own and sometimes for others. And Endling – Extinction is Forever shows this too.

You play as your fox mother character, and there is a mechanic that allows you to play with your kits. You can stop doing anything in the world and just play around with your babies. This may look like something tertiary on its own. It looks like a cute extra gameplay feature like the button dedicated to pulling the middle finger in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, but it serves a purpose here. You stop and cuddle with your babies when they’re afraid. Maybe one of them was almost attacked by an owl or a human, and they now need to be comforted. Having that caring presence allows those babies to keep going. They need the care. And so do we.

This also applies to creatures other than your little kits. In Endling – Extinction is Forever, you encounter a badger, and you can help her baby at one point. And if you do that, she will share her burrows with you. In reality, creatures are typically not this altruistic, but there have been cases of creatures sharing with each other. Allowing one another to enter what should be their territories. Such as the wombats that have been known to tolerate other animals within their homes.  This may not necessarily be an intentionally shared sense of care, but it still contributes to a shared caring atmosphere.

Endling - Extinction is Forever, PC, Opinion

The Need for Learning:

We tend to think that animals operate purely on instinct, but this is not wholly true. We do not understand everything about every animal, but many do certainly learn. They learn from their parents and their environment. We usually like to use more dehumanizing terms like “conditioning” or “training” to describe this behavior in animals, but isn’t human education just another word for training?

And in Endling – Extinction is Forever, the fox mother must teach her kits along the way. She has to show them how to burrow for worms, how to squeeze into tight spots to reach something, and how to hunt. They do not learn these things on their own. The game is very explicit about this information too. It tells you that if you die, your babies will die too. They will not survive the world. They have not learned what they need to learn, and so they will perish.

Humans are the same. We would die if abandoned as infants. We need to learn from our guardians because otherwise, we’d fall down some stairs or eat something poisonous. We’re not the smartest things when we’re infants, and need constant help. The same is true of foxes. The same is true of many animals. They need help from someone in those early days. They need someone to teach them. Someone who can show them the ropes. And Endling – Extinction is Forever does exactly that.

There is probably even more that can be said, but in the end, this article has hopefully shown how Endling – Extinction is Forever relates quite closely to reality with regards to foxes and other creatures. Hopefully, it has also shown that many of these seemingly animal characteristics are also rather human too. Maybe we need to use pieces of art like this game to help us sympathetically imagine our similarities and the differences with our fellow creatures. Maybe if we learned to care just a little more then the world wouldn’t look like it does in Endling – Extinction is Forever.

Justin van Huyssteen (@LC_Lupus)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Herobeat Studios, HandyGames
Developer(s): Herobeat Studios
Genres: 3D Platformer
Themes: Adventure, Survival, Simulation
Release Date: 2022-07-19

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