When we talk about games that are good for players with anxiety, we usually talk about tranquil games like Stardew Valley or Journey. But for my money, I’ll take ultra-difficult platformers like Super Meat Boy. Nothing beats an overwhelming fear of failure like a game where failure is almost certain and its consequences are almost non-existent.
Super Meat Boy creator Edmund McMillen has recently returned to the sub-genre of punishing platformers with The End is Nigh. But while I might use games like his to manage my issues, McMillen and Tyler Glaiel (Closure) explained to Gamasutra that they created the game in part to explore McMillen’s own issues. On the surface, it’s about the inevitability of death (itself not the lightest topic to deal with), and below that surface, it’s about the way game development can grind a person down.
“In The End is Nigh, we wanted mechanics that would induce panic or stress in the player. Hence all the things like jumping off of falling buildings or the toxic water and clouds that you could only stay in for a very short period of time.” says Glaiel.
It was that very stress that was a part of the personal story of game development that McMillen wanted to tell.
“The End is Nigh really became a retrospective on the dark side of game development. I think when going in, specific elements of my other work kinda just bled through.” says McMillen.
“In the past 3 years, I’ve faced some very difficult personal hardships,” says McMillen.
“Just when it seemed like the end was in sight, something else would come up and drop me even lower than I already was. The End is Nigh started as an exploration of this, but as it unfolded, it really became a story about my personal struggle with game development, my obsession with my work, and how it affects my family.”
There are more details about these themes over at Gamasutra, so read on to learn how McMillen put the stress, pressure, damaged relationships and adversity he’s endured as a successful developer into his newest game.
You can find The End is Nigh on Steam, and PS4 and Switch versions are under development.