Developer Gabe Cuzzillo has created a violent, 70’s style, jazzy, puzzle smash ‘m up in Unity called, Ape out! I never could imagine that brutally landing crippling blows on security guards with an ape never looked and sound this stylish. Better avoid the zoo’s for a while.
In Ape Out you control a gorilla that is trapped in a glass cage, at leas at the start of the game. The brutal violence starts immediately when you try to escape. Soon you will find yourself in a murderous frenzy that takes you through the maze-like facility, looking for freedom. A lot of blood is shed as you slaughter hundreds of heavily armed guards, slam them around like rag dolls and, use their limbs as projectiles, you can even use them as human shields to pave a way through the building.
Look & Feel
Every level and its accompanying music is randomly generated, although there are certain bottlenecks between different areas that give each level its own touch. That can be specific doors that remain standing or gigantic corridors with exits where you have to rage through. In addition to the predetermined pieces and the recognisable feeling that they give each level, the rooms themselves are shaken with each new attempt. The use of the bird’s eye view also means that it is more difficult to see where enemies come from and therefore you never really feel safe in the area. The position where guards appear are ever changing, giving it a somewhat new experience every time.
You as an unnamed monkey and jazz lover apparently find yourself in one of the most heavily armed animal testing facilities ever. With a top-down gameplay style, reminiscent of Devolver Digital‘s Hotline Miami, you have to use the environment to your advantage as you go through hordes of guards who want to take you out. The violence is somewhat balanced by the bright colour palette and the use of visual filters that create atmosphere. Of course there is also the dynamic soundtrack, which makes your actions on the screen also heard in the percussion jazz tunes.
As mentioned before, the game’s main themes is jazz music and each of the game’s four chapters are represented as jazz albums with each level representing one track of the album. The gameplay features a brilliant jazz soundtrack composed by Matt Boch which reacts dynamically to the gameplay, that increases in intensity as you face more enemies, and adjusts the game’s volume to match your speed and amount of kills. Additionally, the system matches the location of your actions on the screen to the real-life drum or cymbal.
Pace and Progress
Your progress will be rewarded if you reach the end of a level. A moment where you can release a sigh of relief, especially if you have been struggling with a certain area. An example where we got sweaty hands was a section where we had to tear out a door and use it as a shield against the bullets of the soldiers on the other side. You do not die by one bullet, but you cannot collect a lot and that shows by leaving a pinkish trail on the floor.
Ape Out is gradually becoming more complicated thanks to quickly introduced new game play mechanics. As you progress you will encounter new opponents, where standard soldiers are assisted by guards with shotguns, and later also explosive bombers. When you have completed the first album you will find yourself in a new setting. A building which you have to descend into and deal with light-footed gunmen and SWAT teams breaking through windows. There are in total four albums/chapters to play through, including one that takes place on a cargo ship and another that takes place outside the facility. Each album adds new elements such as opponents with flame throwers and more diverse environmental hazards.
Depending on your skills, it takes about 3-4 hours to complete all albums, after which you can replay them in Arcade mode. Here you score points for each level based on the time it takes and the number of guards you have disable/dismembered. Another game mode called ‘Break In’, forces you to have to break into the facility where it all started. Finally, you can also play all levels at a higher level of difficulty, which provides the much needed replay value.
Our only points of criticism is that a little more story and depth could have been added to ape out. The latter especially towards the end. It’s a lot of fun to make your way through the levels, to use guards as projectiles and to leave a trail of chaos and destruction everywhere. But more interactivity with the environment would certainly not have been out of place as the final levels could have made the game more interesting. Apart from this minor flaw, Ape Out is very fascinating and compelling.
We failed to put our Switch away several times, because we just had to try a certain song/level “one last time”. The gameplay is immersive thanks to the satisfying physics, precise controls, and soundtrack. The dynamic soundtrack and lively visual style are a feast for the eyes and ears. In our opinion if you like frantic action, you have to try this very attractive indie title