ENDS: Survive London’s Dark Underbelly in a GTA-Inspired Crime Game
“The block. The bando. The feds. Eventually, you’ll get used to it.”
London has a dark and dangerous side, and for some, even surviving is a struggle. That’s the core concept of ENDS, an all-new, in-development game from Concrete Realm. Taking inspiration from Grand Theft Auto and The Getaway, ENDS aims to immerse players in one of the most authentic representations of London, while delivering a gritty, urban story that’s choice-driven and thought-provoking.
I caught up with Concrete Realm to learn about the team’s development journey so far and to learn everything possible about ENDS.
London Like Never Before
Being local to London and being a fan of the kinds of titles that seem to have inspired ENDS, I wanted to learn more about the driving forces behind this project. Namely, I wanted to know why the Concrete Realm team had invested time, effort, and money in this particular title.
CR: ‘We felt that many AAA game developers couldn’t quite capture the authenticity of London as we could. We’ve noticed that recent UK titles like the new season of Top Boy and Blue Story faced criticism for not fully delivering an authentic experience, and we believe ‘ENDS’ can fill that gap. This project is a passion project for us, and we’ve discovered that many others share our enthusiasm for it. It’s a game designed by and for the people, aiming to provide a truly authentic London experience.’
Painfully few developers fully take advantage of the urban sprawl that is London. In 2020, Ubisoft released Watch Dogs: Legion, which is set in a dystopian rendition of London, but it wasn’t a successful game. Elsewhere, games like Call of Duty have a mission or two set in the city, but it doesn’t go much further than that.
With that in mind, I was curious about the scope of ENDS. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be contained to a single neighbourhood or borough of London, and wanted to find out.
CR: ‘We’re still in the process of determining the scale of the map for ‘ENDS’. Ideally, we’d love to recreate a substantial portion of London in the game but we’re currently facing some financial and technological constraints. Additionally, there are legal considerations related to the architectural portrayal of specific buildings. As we gather more information and make decisions about the map’s size and content, we’ll certainly keep the community informed.’
In The ENDS
ENDS looks promising at first blush, and being a fan of ‘games like this’ I for one am excited. This is an original story set in the heart of London that features three protagonists all banded up and fighting for survival to make the right choices for the good of themselves and their families. While details are thin at the moment, there’s enough there for ENDS to start shaping up as something ambitious and intriguing.
As I spoke to Concrete Realm, I learned that originally, the goal was to create a single-player RPG experience, but thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response to the project, CR has become more community-focused and has considered embedding multiplayer mechanics into ENDS.
CR: ‘The overwhelmingly positive response to our announcement trailer has revealed a significant appetite for a multiplayer experience in the world of ‘ENDS.’ As a result, we’re actively exploring the possibility of incorporating multiplayer features at launch. Ultimately, the realisation of this vision hinges on the demand from our community, and the support and the investment we receive. We’re committed to staying true to our gaming principles and delivering a compelling experience!’
I was concerned about the inevitable backlash from people outside of that core community, though. For instance, it looks like ENDS will have connections to the gang and drug culture that has deeply permeated London’s underbelly for decades. Fortunately, CR put me straight on that front.
CR: ‘We’re acutely aware that creating a game with themes involving drugs and violence may raise concerns about glorification. However, it’s essential to understand that our approach to ‘ENDS’ is centred around depicting the consequences of such elements rather than glorifying them. Our primary mission with the game’s narrative is to highlight how this lifestyle can profoundly impact an individual’s life.’
Both Sides of the Wire
It’s not all about the crime, though. Like Grand Theft Auto, ENDS aims to give the player a broad spectrum of activities to take care of, and they’re not all based on illegal activities. From my conversation with Concrete Realm, I learned how much wisdom is being poured into ENDS. It’s not just another run-and-gun, happy-go-lucky crime shooter game.
CR: ‘Our side missions are specifically designed to contrast legal and illegal activities, with a strong emphasis on demonstrating how each can affect both the community and the main characters within the game. We are committed to portraying a realistic and nuanced depiction of these themes to provide players with a deeper understanding of the complexities involved, rather than promoting them in a positive light.’
We aim to foster a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by various socioeconomic groups, ultimately contributing to a more comprehensive and thought-provoking gaming experience.’
To Be Delivered
Concrete Realm is working on ENDS with intense passion, that much is clear. At present, the game is going through a crowdfunding phase, while the small-knit team that is building it out works tirelessly to bring it to life. Fortunately, things are looking up for CR and ENDS.
CR: ‘We are immensely grateful for the support ‘ENDS’ has received, and it holds a special place in the hearts of our team. The journey of developing ‘ENDS’ has been marked by its fair share of challenges. When we first set out, we faced significant financial constraints and had limited experience in the industry. However, in just a few months, we managed to shape a compelling concept for the game, launch our announcement trailer, and build a dedicated social media following through robust marketing efforts.’
It’s a sizeable undertaking, but Concrete Realm looks in tip-top form and is accepting of the challenge. I learned just how much effort CR is putting into this game as I spoke to them. There are ongoing collaborations with real-world influencers, celebrities, artists, and musicians that will be pulled through into the game, for instance.
As our chat wrapped up, the Concrete Realm team even took the time to share an inspirational thought with other, aspiring developers:
CR: ‘To those aspiring to embark on a similar journey, we want to stress that the only thing holding you back is often your own hesitation. Once you set your idea in motion with the right team and unwavering determination, there are virtually no limits to what you can achieve. It’s a testament to the power of passion and dedication, and we encourage anyone with a dream to bring it to life and share it with the world.’