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12-12-2017

The End is Nigh

The "Hang in there" kitten became a cultural icon for a reason. Sure, many say they only liked the poster ironically, but whether we want to admit it or not, the image of an innocent, desperate little animal hanging onto life by one paw is something most of us can immediately relate to. Anxiety is everywhere these days. We all feel like something is slipping away from us, and there's not much we can do about it. 

It's not all bad though. Anxiety and excitement are two sides of the same coin. Both charge us up and get us to mentally rehearse plans for our immediate future. The difference, of course, is that anxiety is usually intertwined with feeling threatened, uncertain, and pessimistic, while excitement is colored by courage, confidence, and optimism. 

There are moments in The End is Nigh that are genuinely exciting, usually when you discover a new secret or are about to collect a new game cartridge, but for the most part, the game is just a series of anxiety-inducing moments stacked on top of each other, with half-second periods of rest and relief in-between. Not only does that keep the game from ever slowing down or letting you become comfortably bored, but it also keep you motivated to keep chipping away at it. You want the things that hurt you to go away, and in this case, the things that hurt you are part of every stage of the game. The way to beat them is to analyze every inch of the world around you, create a plan to get through it, then execute that plan with expert skill and timing.

Sometimes that's possible, but most of the time, it's like picking a scab. You will eventually get it off, only to have a new set of challenges take their place. These new problems will ultimately cause you to fail and die. In fact, this is how the game starts, with a playable cutscene that you are intended to lose. And that's where the fucks start. 

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