Games have come so far in their short life from entertaining ways to kill time, to a story telling medium hard to match by many others. It is truly wonderful to experience a story that you beautifully connect to in a way that can only be achieved by the player agency inherent in the medium, but sometimes you want to be an ape that throws armed guards at walls, bring on Ape Out.
Ape Out doesn’t waste time. With much more information than you need for its presence, you start as a massive ape in a lab, who breaks out and needs to get through the building. Armed guards are everywhere, constantly rolling in via elevators, and you need to get from one side of each level to the other. Finally freeing the ape from the lab, will then drop you in as a lab in an office building that need sot make its way down the floors. I will leave the other sections for you to discover yourself.
The ape has one ability, slam the guards away. If there is a lot of space then they fall over and get back up, if there isn’t then the slam into walls splattering blood everywhere, or into other guards, also splattering bloody everywhere. One annoying part of this is when you’re on the moment and don’t pay attention to the guards you slam into a close wall. As some of them are grenade throwers sometimes they will explode on impact and will kill you if you are too close.
This simple gameplay makes the game an unbelievable amount of fun. Overcomplicating it can throw in so many variables but stripping it back can make a game addictive as all hell, because when you die you know you need to approach the situation as fast, but differently. This is helped because when you die it shows the full map with a line showing where you walked, so you can see bizarre times you backtracked, or how you could have gotten there faster.
Because the game is top down, the levels become mazes with multiple ways to get from one side to the other with some procedural generation mixing every attempt up a little. Different paths involve different guards, or if you are lucky, less guards, but you can trigger others in the area to come your way if you walk through glass or smash a guard through glass. As guards wander around, it is important to keep moving, and this frantic pace results in a lot of deaths as the ape can’t take many shots. The number of times I would get through 80% of a level, to struggle to get halfway through it the next few times was more than I want to admit.
The game is extraordinarily violent with blood splatter everywhere, but thanks to its beautiful design with bold colours, minimal details, and the moving grainy way colours are applied it isn’t graphic. The bold simple colour scheme makes the game an absolute treat to look at, and its relaxed, jazzy soundtrack makes the game bizarrely tense. This is especially so when levels turn out the lights so you can only see black, shadows, and the guard’s flashlights.
There isn’t too much more to say about Ape Out, it’s a simple game that is fantastic. It’s as violent as it is beautiful, as fun as it is frustrating, and the exact kind of game you would expect to see Devolver Digital giving the push it deserves.