Ape Out is “Bloody Ape-Mazing”
The aim of Ape Out is to kill your captors and tear your way through the labyrinth of buildings you find yourself in.
There are only three controlling inputs in the entire game. Moving, pushing and grabbing
Aside from moving, the primary one is pushing and you have a serious amount of force behind that shove. You can defeat ordinary enemies in a single shove and it’s no surprise, considering that they explode into a Jackson Pollock painting upon connecting with a wall or other enemies. That’s right, you can use people as projectiles. A well aimed shove can be used to take out a large group of targets. Especially if you manage to set up a collision with an explosive enemy type.
The other mechanic grab, is also extremely satisfying to use. The ape has the ability to hold enemies and use them as a human shield. This is incredibly vital during situations where you’re surrounded, and if you hold the armoured enemies in blue they can withstand two shots. In a barbaric but totally awesome way, you can kill people by picking up the remnants of enemies and throwing them. Additionally, certain sections of the game have you rip doors from their frames and use them to block projectiles and funnel enemies down a corridor, only to throw the door and take out a whole wave of enemies you’ve trapped in a dead end. There is literally no escaping your might in those instances.
The ability to atomise those around you helps play to this power fantasy that you are an unstoppable force of nature, but do not be fooled, you are still very vulnerable. The simian sentinel can only survive three hits before being defeated. The way the game conveys your health status is very fitting with the simplistic look to the game. Instead of having a heads up display that would clutter the screen, your health is signposted by the amount of blood that trails behind you. This adds more tension than a simple life bar because you see the ape suffering and it urges you to play smarter and complete every level unscathed.
There is a lot of planning involved in beating this game. Each time you crawl further and further into a level, you memorise where and what types of enemies spawn from different locations or the best places to hide and regain your composure. Knowing when to shove or shield behind enemies can mean life or death. Fortunately for players, when you die the game over screen is a map of the level and the route you took on your last run, which aids you in future attacks on your captors.
It would be criminal to talk about Ape Out and not mention the soundtrack and clever sound design. The music in this game is a made up procedurally generated drumming that reacts to how you play the game. Most impressively the drumming speeds up and becomes more frantic as the action picks up, matching the intensity of the concrete jungle rooms you navigate, before slowing down as you take time to consider your next move. Finally, whenever you attack an enemy there is a loud cymbal crash, adding to the weight of your already powerful swings.
It can’t be denied that Ape Out is a minimalist game but this doesn’t matter, because all of the elements come together to form an addictive beat em up experience.
Ape Out is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch