Zoetermeer, Jan 2020
I do wonder about the state of mind of the person who designed a game as wickedly twisted as The End. But whatever is wrong with their head, it’s wrong in a very, very good way, because The End is a work of genius that I absolutely loved.
I’m not entirely sure how to review it without spoilers. I can’t really talk about the plot, the ending, the beginning, or most of the bits along the way. I might have to settle for just cryptically gushing about the various brilliant moments that had me grinning in a way that my teammates probably found unsettling.
Compared to many games it’s light on puzzles; the story and the experience gets as much emphasis as puzzle-solving, particularly once the game gets into its swing, and in a couple of cases the ‘puzzles’ are barely recognisable as such; you need to work out how to proceed without anything as straightforward as a code or lock. Some of the earlier puzzles could be nit-picked; such as the one I felt we solved mainly by good luck, thanks to one person happening to be the right place when someone else tried something that had no obvious effect.
What it does with unparalleled success is instil emotion, in a whole gamut of different flavours. Surprise, for a start, in a variety of different forms; humour, of the very blackest type; a certain amount of confusion and fear, outright exultation and even some genuine moral squeamishness.
You won’t get many clues about the plot from the website, where the description involves getting a phone call and finding a coffin. As a result I had no idea where the story was going, and in fact it turned out to be quite different to my initial guesses. While I’m certainly not going to give any spoilers, what I can say is that it’s wildly original, packed with memorable scenes, doubly so for the way it finishes. And although it may have fewer puzzles than many games, it boasts a couple that are amongst the most pleasing (and most twisted!) I’ve seen.
The End is a masterpiece of immersive story and experience, a rollercoaster of the unexpected, a game that will leave you breathless while playing it and then stay with you long after – smart, disturbing, and so so good.