March 04, 2019

Ape Out - Review

Everyone loves some good monkey business and in this latest title from Devolver Digital, the is only one thing you can do and that is go Ape, but is that enough, or does this jazz infused title end up off key?

Ape out tells a story of an ape who for simplicity sake we shall call Ape, if you don’t get that joke you need to watch more movies. Ape starts out as a prisoner in a facility where experiments are conducted and these are not nice ones, these are the kind that leave him as the only ape, not killed and he makes the decision to bust out and escape. As you progress, the scenarios become even more Ludacris, but still entertaining, from escaping a high-rise, or running through the jungle and military facilities in the middle of a coo, each one amps up the challenge, but also the wackiness of the scenario. Ape does not speak, in fact no words of any kind are spoken, the only time you see words are at the start of each level of the game, the game is all about one thing, an escaping ape and it does that very well.

The gameplay is also quite simple, you can run around and push people around, the game tells you when you get to a large door that someone closed in an effort to remain alive, but the game then tells you, that you can grab onto doors and rip them from their hinges. The effect is that it makes you slower but gives you protection against the incoming fire from the humans and their weapons, which slowly ramp up from single pistols and go all the way to rocket launchers. The games problem here, is that it never tells you, that you can actually pick up the humans and use them as shields, when you do though, they tend to get a little scared and shoot their guns off, in the direction you are facing, letting you take out any enemies in site. The problem was, it was out of sheer frustration that I discovered this, in the third stage, on chapter six, meaning I had gone into the final quarter of the game, before I discovered something that made the game easier and more fun.

Once you have cleared a world, the game unlock the Arcade mode for you to try, giving you the same objective as the main game, but now with the added pressure of getting a high score. Enemies are worth points and the more that you smash, the more points you will earn and as you only have a limited amount of time to score, you need to maintain your momentum. This can be easier said than done, thanks to the games levels, still being created in random ways, meaning one run might see you come up against a host of guards, letting you get a massive amount of points, where as the next one, might end up with you having very little to do for a bit of time, with finding enemies putting a host of pressure on you, to get some points on the board.

One part that the games does not explain, but it absolutely does not need to, is the music, that jazz soundtrack is funky, wild and eclectic and I love it. It is also enhanced by how you play, meaning that if you throw any enemy into a wall, you will get a nice symbol crash, barely nudge someone though and it will be a light tap. The more you hit, the more sounds you add and the more outrageous the track can be come, even if you avoid hitting anyone, friendly fire is a thing, so someone who shoots at you might hit someone else, causing the same sounds to occur. As you will die, a lot, replaying the same level over and over again, with the same basic track could have been annoying, but with the randomness of the music, changing up based on you, it never feels like an issue.

The other random part are the levels themselves, while they will all contain an end point, within the same spot, it is all the connecting stuff that swaps around between runs. There are some problems with this though, as levels and enemy placement are random, there were a fair number of times when I would attempt a new run, only for there to be one enemy right at the exit point of the safety space between stages, heck one time, one of them was literally standing in the tunnel, it was quite an odd thing. There were also times when levels would be crafted in a way, that I could walk at the top or bottom and get over half the way, before I spotted any enemies, so while I love the idea of procedurally generated levels, there is room for improvement here.

When talking about the games presentation, the music is the highlight, but the visuals are no slouch either, the game uses a pseudo 3d effect, where the camera is always on top of the Ape, the world move around him, in a way that adds depth. Walls will remain solid, if Ape is not in the room, but as you get close to walls, doors and other objects, the effect of them tilting in, to take up the top down view occurs and the result is an effect that is impressive. But even more impressive is that games visual flair, the game uses minimal colouring, which is used to the most in levels where lights go out, but is the games uses of constantly swapping texture effects, that help build up the world. There are times when items look like they are moving, though upon closer inspection, it is only the flickering of the textures.

Ape Out is a game that is very easy to get into and while initial load times are a little high, the respawn time is quite low, perfect for those looking to get back into the escapism that the game is offering. Some more tutorials on what you could do, would have been nice, but even without them, getting into the escaping action requires very little practice. The games soundtrack would have been amazing on its own, but is made even better, with the randomness that is created by your own actions, meaning that repeats are not likely to ever occur.

Review code provided by Devolver Digital

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