Okay, sit down because this concept is awesome. The End: Inari's Quest is a video game where you play as a fox on a quest from a goddess to escort a newborn fox cub out of a cyberpunk city and into the last forest. That's rad as all hell, right? Frankly, I was super into this idea when I first heard it. I instantly knew that I had to play it. It's a shame, then, that the end result feels so lifeless and without any of the ideas, I'd expect from such a concept.
You play as a fox that manages to break out of a cell. Upon this escape, the fox meets with Inari, a fox goddess that asks it to help a newly born cub escape from the city. The story never really expands on that simple note. Halfway through, the super important cub that is "the last of its species" vanishes and never comes up again. In addition to this, The End ends on a super unsatisfactory cliffhanger. According to the Steam page, this is because The End is actually the first episode of an episodic game, but if all you did was play it then you'd have no clue because this isn't actually implied anywhere.
Sadly the gameplay doesn't fare much better. The first half of The End sees you navigating this cyberpunk city and escorting the cub. Since the cub can't move on its own, you'll need to pick it up and put it down. You have to be careful where putting it down. Rats will try to kill the cub and you'll sometimes have to fight them off. There's a single attack button that sort of awkwardly makes the fox lunge. If said lunge hits a rat, they simply vanish as if they never existed in the first place.
Everything feels super clunky here. There's a single human enemy you fight by running into the back of his legs. The game has to go through an awkward tutorial to explain this to you because this mechanic is unique to this encounter. At one point, you need to lure a human onto a button, in a painfully slow segment that far outstays its welcome. Navigating the city is confusing and frustrating. It's just too easy to lose yourself in these streets and back-alleys. Also, the game employees a lives system here for some reason. You have three lives to finish the first half of the game.
Then you get to the second half. The cub vanishes, you just don't have to care for it anymore. The life system also vanishes, replaced by a checkpoint system for no discernible reason. Now you need to wander around a park and hit three buttons. This means you're just aimlessly wandering until you find these buttons. It's not fun at all, and choosing to close The End out with it is a baffling choice. Sometimes you have to avoid drones, but there's little else to do. Then, after a pathetically short 45 minute run time, The End ends.
Sadly there's very little else going for The End. When it's not in motion the game can actually look great. The fox model is fantastic, and the cyberpunk city and park are both astonishingly beautiful. Once you get moving, it totally ruins the illusion. The animations are clunky and awkward, always looking hilariously out of place. The fox cub that you have to care for will mysteriously grow and shrink when the fox goes to pick it up, looking really silly and little else. More than once I accidentally jumped through fences by running into walls and propelling myself through the air. It's a shame the illusion doesn't hold up.
I really wanted to love The End: Inari's Quest. I'm an absolute sucker for its concept, and everything about it really should appeal to me. But the truth is that there's simply nothing to the game worth playing. Clunky, broken, and boring, this is a quest that should have ended before it began.
TechRaptor covered The End: Inari's Quest on PC via Steam using a copy purchased by the player.