Ending review



May 4, 2013

Ending is a nightmare, and the nightmare details a group of bone-white toilet plungers who want to kill you. Toilet plungers and a range of bleached euphoniums. And plumbers' L-bends. And a bunch of other things I can't even begin to name. Whatever: they're all after your blood.

Ending is also an elegantly pruned-back puzzler and a compact Roguelike. The puzzler's there to introduce the enemies, the combat, and the whole mindset of the project in a careful upwards arc of managed difficulty, and then the Roguelike comes along and it's like being at a zoo when somebody opens all of the cages at once. Suddenly, these pieces you're used to dealing with in relative isolation and at a polite cerebral distance are spilling out en masse. You're overrun. You're constantly on the back foot. You're dying the death of a million zugzwangs. It's wonderful.

So what's the big idea, Ending? The big idea is that you're an @ symbol, working your way through a chequerboard maze and fighting off a range of foes as you head for the exit. Whenever you take a move, your enemies do as well, and you can only kill them - by performing the @ symbol equivalent of a headbutt - when you're in a square that's directly adjacent to them. So with those plungers, for example, you have to sidestep and move in little circles until you've got them where you want them. Leave a space between you and your quarry when they're facing in the right direction, and they'll do you in on the next move.

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