Ape Out was a game I was truly excited to see more of after playing it at PAX East a couple of years ago. The demo was obviously far from a complete game, but it had a hook and energy that had me coming back a few times to check it out. Now that it is released I can easily say the wait was well worth it.
Ape Out is a very odd and at the surface simple premise. The objective of the game is to guide the titular Ape as it escapes from a variety of environments. At its heart this is a twin shooter style game with left trigger grabbing enemies and the right trigger throwing them or smashing enemies. But there is so much more to this beautiful game that set it apart from any mere action game.
The most amazing aspect of this game is the music and sound effects. Every time an enemy is hit there is a cymbal beat that layers on with the music as the screen shakes. Hit a bunch of baddies in a row and the cacophony of sound and action is frantic and frankly awe inspiring at times. The action makes a unique aural play each and every time a level is played and is so very amazing.
First is the look of the game; it is very simplistic but incredibly distinctive and brutally lovely to behold. The action is shown from an overhead perspective and the Ape is always at the center of the screen as I guided him around. When he encounters and handily destroys enemies they explode with lots of blood and body parts. It is shocking at first and eventually becomes, dare I say it, satisfying as it is clear this Ape is mistreated and should be free.
This is remarkable as there really is no story here. I knew the Ape was in a cage and had to be released; bad guys were in the way so I had to get out anyway I could. With the simple but striking color palate and amazing procedural music jive together, playthroughs are fast, frantic, and completely amazing. Check out a run through I posted below for some crazy action in Ape Out.
The game itself is relatively short broken up into four ‘Albums’ each with an A and B side of levels. Playing through the whole game, depending on how well you do, could be completed in 5 hours or so. This did not really matter as I had WAY more hours into the game than that. The levels and music queues created by my cations are all procedurally generated so every experience is different even within the design of the ‘Album’ levels.
The only gripe I have is that the enemies are not terribly smart; as soon as I saw them I knew how they would act and I could rampage around with that secure knowledge. It still doesn’t guarantee an easy run as some levels really got me over and over again but that variety and lack of AI smarts is something I could see bearing improvement.
The icing on the cake of this terrific game is the pure design genius of the level intros and outros. The name of the level always comes onscreen in a fun and vibrant way. When I did die the screen zoomed out and shows by path as well as what the level ended up shaped like. These little touches added so much personality and made for a truly unique and lovely experience.
Ape Out will not deliver the next deep immersive experience, but it is incredibly fun to play and my go to game for short stress relieving game time. The music created as you play is just so cool and the gameplay itself is just plain fun. A terrific game and one I hope many people take a chance and try out. Ape Out is available on PC and Nintendo Switch right now.