The End is Nigh, a new puzzle platformer by former Newgrounds creator Tyler Glaiel and Super Meat Boy's Edmund McMillen, is out now on PC. It brings back Meat Boy's precise controls and movement for a second round of dangerous jumps and spike pits. It's a bit too familiar, but it's still a lot of fun.
The story follows Ash, a lovable lump living during the end times. After his favourite video game cartridge breaks down, he sets off on an journey to literally make a friend and retain his sanity. What follows is a series of platforming challenges that will test the limits of a player's coordination. The excellent controls make navigation feel as natural as walking down the street. Ash feels less like a player-guided character and more like an additional limb, responding perfectly to every input.
While the moment to moment gameplay is fun, The End Is Nigh follows the same core design philosophy of Super Meat Boy. This is a game about punishment and failure, gladly tracking how many times players die. Walls crumble, poison gas makes speedy navigation essential, and dangerous enemies lurk in the shadows. It takes far too long to add complications and hazards that differentiate it from Super Meat Boy, and it struggles to find an identity of its own. The similarities to McMillen's previous work make The End is Nigh feel tired and backward-looking, appealing to the familiar instead of finding its own way.
The action moves from crumbling cities to arid deserts. Unlike Meat Boy, players don't pause to select the next level but seamlessly fall into them. Exploring the world is genuinely exciting when each new screen brims with possibilities. You might tumble into a dark cave with glowing walls or stumble across a lake of leaping skulls.
The End is Nigh feels like a game out of time. Tyler Glaiel's art design firmly calls back to the off-kilter sensibilities of Newgrounds, and McMillen's fondness for the macabre continues the sophomoric sadism that has dominated his games. The game world's strength rest in intelligently designed challenges and the allure of exploration, but it never quite coalesces into anything stunning.
What The End is Nigh lacks in innovation, it makes up for in raw gameplay. It is an absolutely stellar platformer. If you forgive some of the more tired aspects, there is a deviously challenging game to experience.
You can play The End is Nigh on PC.