Friday, March 1, 2019

Gorilla gorilla

'So what are you playing?'

'A game about an ape messily crushing people into walls. And jazz fusion.'

'Uh hum.'

(walks away)


Ape Out is a simple game. You are an ape. You want to get out. There are many people in the way, most of them have guns, and they explode into the kind of red art Pollock would create after playing way too much Hotline Miami.

There are two buttons: one punches enemies and the other grabs them. Grabbed enemies can be used as shields, will file off a few shots of their gun in a panic, and then can be thrown into other helpless blood bags or the nearest wall, whichever you prefer.

It's a simple game. It's also almost brilliant.

The top down perspective makes determining enemy line of sight a snap. This is quite important because they will continue to fire at you from off screen, especially the damn rocket launcher guys who will one shot you long after you think you are safe. The visuals are simple but distinct. Enemies types are immediately recognizable, from the burly shot gun guys to the cowardly ones who have pistols. Everything needs to be processed quickly but it is not the enemies that kill, it is hesitation.

Any moment of hesitation equals death, or at least taking damage. When any enemy spots you there is almost always enough time to grab him before he gets off a shot as long as you do nothing else in the mean time. No time to think, no time to do anything, either you grab him (or hit him) or you get shot.

No stealth. No deep tactics. Just an ape going ape. And jazz.

Each level begins in silence. When the first enemy is killed the music kicks in, punctuated by cymbal hits when the ape crushes humans again the walls. It will rise and fall with the action, quieting down between fire fights only to reach a frenzied pitch when the ape is jumped by three shotgun guys, a flamethrower guy and a rocket launcher guy.

And that is where the game falters. Levels are proceduraly generated and can create no win scenarios. Not no win, I suppose, just dead ends filled with enemies. They are all also just a bit too long. Death comes quickly and and there are no checkpoints, something that becomes more annoying in the second half the game.

In spite of the difficulty spikes the game is also only about three hours long. There is a higher difficulty option, but that just doubles the level length. No thanks.

Ape Out had one good idea and it did it very, very well. For three hours/$15 dollars, that is all I an ask for.

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