I must admit to you all that I’m more of a story guy when it comes to video games. I thoroughly enjoy being engrossed in a grand tale in a video game. That’s just the way I am. Every once in a while, however, a game comes along where its great gameplay sucks me in and there isn’t much of a story to be found within it. Ape Out is one of those games. It does have a story at the most basic level but it’s gameplay is what makes it a compelling game.
Ape Out is a top-down beat ‘em up style of game. The goal is for you (as the ape) to break out of your cage and escape. That’s it as far as your motivation goes. The goal is to get from the cage to the exit while killing anyone who crosses your path. Enemies can be pushed into walls (where they explode in a gory fashion) or they can be grabbed and used to shoot their companions. The game has a certain rhythm and momentum to it as you murder your way from one end of the level to the other (more on that later).
Your cage. Time to bust out.
The gameplay is fast and frenetic and it builds momentum (as I said above) as you progress through a given level. It was always nerve-wracking when I found myself face-to-face with a group of enemies. My adrenaline really got going as I charged them all the while wondering if I actually had enough time to close the gap before they shot me. There was no better feeling in the world than grabbing an enemy right as they were shooting their gun because they would end up shooting their companions instead. Conversely, it was always such a disappointment when I died a mere foot away from an enemy from an ill-timed gun blast. This was made all the more disappointing whenever I discovered I was a just a few steps away from the level’s exit.
The reason I knew how close I was to the exit whenever I died is because Ape Out has a dead screen that reveals the level map after each death. I died within a few steps of the exit more times than I can count. Rather than defeating me, it motivated me to keep trying. It really was a case of “just one more try.” The dead screen can be misleading, however. Don’t follow the map it shows too closely because although the entrance and exit remain in the same spot, the obstacles between them are procedurally generated and change each time you die. It spiced things up in an interesting way and provided new challenges each time I tried making my way through a level after each death.
Those last three screenshots are from the same level.
The death and gore would be probably be too much to handle if it wasn’t for Ape Out’s minimalistic style. There are very few colors used throughout the game. Gray and black represent the floor and the wall. White is for the people, orange is the ape (you), and the blood and guts of your enemies are red along with a few other colors. Visual details are scarce so it really separates you from the violence occurring onscreen which makes the game highly enjoyable. The visuals, with the twisting and swirling, reminds me of the “Take on Me” music video except with colors. It’s a really cool art design.
Now, I cannot talk about Ape Out without mentioning its wonderful jazz soundtrack. It really belongs in the gameplay section if I’m being honest since they are both intertwined. This is because each level begins in complete silence. Then, after killing the first person you see, cymbals crash and the soundtrack starts up. Each kill after that first one is accentuated with cymbals. It adds a level of energy to the murdering mayhem that pushed me on towards the end. Ape Out really emphasizes that the soundtrack is an integral part of the game because the levels are divided into albums with both A and B sides. This game is probably the best (besides Guitar Hero and Rock Band, obviously) at weaving its soundtrack with the gameplay. It is a really cool concept that I thoroughly enjoyed.
After completing each album, you can replay them on a harder difficulty. This increase in difficulty adds harder enemies and more of them to each level (ones with armor and better weapons). There is also an arcade mode where you get points based upon how fast you completed a level, how many enemies you killed etc. These extra modes provide ways to extend your play time because the game is admittedly very short. You can probably finish the main part of the game in under three hours. That is one of only two complaints I have about Ape Out. The other is that there are long load times when first booting up the game and when continuing a save. Those are really it as far as complaints go.
Ape Out is a fun game with fast, frenetic combat that pushes the player into that mindset of “just one more try.” It’s jazz soundtrack which perfectly accentuates the gameplay makes it that more compelling. It’s a short game with occasional long loading times but these two things don’t detract too much from the overall experience. If you’re looking for a game that allows you to expel some of your pent-up frustration and won’t take up too much of your time, then Ape Out is the game for you.
Final Score: 9/10
- Fast, frenetic gameplay
- Great use of soundtrack
- Simplistic and colorful visuals
- Load times
Thanks for reading!