Trust No One
Your coworkers mysteriously lost their minds and are now killing everyone, what do you do? Endure. A pixelated sci-fi adventure by Ivan Panasenko, Endurance forces you to shoot your manic coworkers to escape a massive spaceship. Will you survive, or end up a bloody stain on the floor?
Beginning of the End
Before diving into the game, you’re asked to choose your player character’s sex and appearance. There’s a mixture of male and female bodies, along with different skin tones and hair colors. All player character options have names beginning with Sam, like Samantha and Samuel, but are only referred to as Sam in-game. The tone for Endurance is set with the opening animatic of a spaceship littered with bloody, unmoving corpses. Then it rewinds to three days earlier, and Sam’s harrowing journey begins. Place a finger on the left side of the screen to move Sam around areas of the ship. Another finger on the right has them interact with objects and shoot various guns. Items such as guns, first aid kits, health extenders, and gun repair kits are found by opening boxes and lockers. Since guns break easily, and Sam loses health quickly, you’ll need these items to press forward.
Enemy coworkers are outlined in red, whether they were formerly scientists, security, or people in hazmat suits. The (literally) mad scientists are easier to kill, while security and hazmat are more difficult as they have more protection. Each enemy Sam kills earns them credits, which can be used to buy health and other guns. Sam has many guns to choose from, including the FK-12 and Electogun-03, all with different shooting rates and damage power. However, if a gun gets broken by enemy fire, it disappears from Sam’s inventory. Thankfully, a lot of the same guns can be found in boxes and lockers. If Sam does happen to die on any level, they can be revived after watching an ad. Be careful, as Sam can only be revived four times per level.
Endurance is the prequel to Panasenko’s first game, Ailment, set on a different spaceship. It has the same premise – a player character fighting against coworkers gone mad – though there isn’t any character selection beforehand. Ailment is also done in pixel art and has multiple guns to choose from. Though Panasenko’s games are similar, it’s clear that Endurance improves upon the graphics, animation, and gameplay mechanics. The pixels are sharply defined, characters walk naturally, gun selection is easier, and there’s less distraction from the game map. Colors are also brighter and bolder, from the neon lights to the buckets of blood. Panasenko took what he learned from Ailment and applied that knowledge to Endurance, making it twice as good on every level.
As engaging and well-done as Endurance is, there are a few hiccups. When Sam talks with an NPC, there isn’t a way to speed up dialogue, and those seconds feel like forever. Thankfully, Sam only stops to talk with others sporadically. Beyond that, it can be a bit awkward at times to move Sam around the map. I found myself having a hard time stopping them from hugging the walls and getting stuck behind random barrels. The controls would benefit from being less clunky and sensitive. Additionally, though Sam’s health regenerates on its own, it takes an awfully long time. There’d be less credit spending and frantic searching for first aid kits if Sam’s health regenerated just a bit faster. It would also help considering there are multiple occasions where Sam is attacked by large groups of enemies.
Space(Ship), the Final Frontier
Endurance is a sci-fi adventure that pits your character against waves of mad colleagues. You never know who’s going to attack next. Shoot your way to freedom with an arsenal of guns and hidden boosters as your character tries not to die. The game has its issues, but is still playable, and it’s a remarkable achievement coming from one person.
Is it Hardcore?
A well-written story coupled with intense gameplay make for an exciting adventure. Some issues could stand to be updated, but it’s a worthwhile game all the same.