Have you ever wanted to be a giant ape beating up armed soldiers and body guards and generally smashing everything in sight? Well, now you can with with the stylish masterpiece that is Ape Out! In this top down beat ’em up with huge helpings of blood, you are a captured ape and, as the title suggests, you want to get out.
So is this an indie title worth the time and effort? Is helping this ape escape the right game for you? Let’s find out!
Ape Out’s gameplay is spread between four short and tough chapters containing eight levels each. Your goal is simple: the player must navigate the ape through the maze like stages, defeating or avoiding enemies, until you reach the next level. The game also provides you with only two controls besides from moving; grab and smash.
Despite these controls being very straight forward, Ape Out never failed to surprise me with the consistent inventiveness they used. From ripping doors off hinges to using soldiers as literal human shields, I was always learning and adapting, finding new ways to get through levels quickly and efficiently. Your ape can be hit two times and then dies on the third hit, so although there is room for mistakes, Ape Out still feels unforgiving and challenges not only your reflexes but also your cognitive abilities to quickly work out which enemies pose a big enough threat they’re worth taking out, and which are best off avoided.
Most levels only took a few tries to complete, helped by the fact that when you die the word DEAD appears on the screen along with a simple map showing how far through the level you got. However, some levels did take an extortionate amount of time to complete, but I think that was a lot more to do with my lack of skill than any fault of the game.
Enemies are visually and behaviorally distinct and get slowly more aggressive throughout the game. In the first few levels, some enemies will even run away from you, and by the end, you’ve got soldiers chucking bombs left, right, and centre so definitely a step up. How you learn to respond to each of them is what makes Ape Out‘s gameplay really pop for me.
The only fault I can find in Ape Out is that often levels kind of blend into each other, so it feels more like four big levels with checkpoints rather than 10 levels per chapter. However, the game does have a lot to go back for once completed. It’s randomly generated apart from a few key moments all players will experience, which I hadn’t actually realised until after I’d finished playing.
You can find a harder setting for chapters you’ve completed, which is a noticeably large step up in difficulty from the main game. There’s also an arcade mode which requires you to score as many points as possible in a limited amount of time, which I personally would say is the hardest way to play of them all.
Now onto my favourite thing about Ape Out, the art. Wow, the art in this is so good, if you couldn’t already tell from the pictures in this article. I love how it’s minimalistic yet still very easy to tell what’s what. Bold colours and different pallets for each area were such a delight to play through, and even though there’s no dialogue in this game, it’s so easy to tell and enjoy the setting and story through quirky little cutscenes. It’s such a stand out art style that when I saw it, I immediately knew Ape Out was a game I just had to try regardless of the gameplay style, which didn’t disappoint either.
As I said before, there isn’t any dialogue, but the name of each level is given to you on completion of the previous one. It appears on the floor you’re running over and it’s always animated to fit the name and style of the level. I don’t know if you get the picture from that description, but essentially even the words have so much artistic movement I had to praise it in this review. The whole game is also set out like vinyl, with an A and B side and each level being a different song, which is a really awesome and unique idea.
Speaking of music, Ape Out’s original soundtrack really ties the whole thing together. It mostly consists of aggressive drumming, which fits the funky, stylish, fast-paced vibe of Ape Out perfectly. The music will also, in a way, react to what the ape is doing. For example, if you kill an enemy there will be a loud symbol crash and a splatter of blood. Very cool stuff.
So despite the levels kind of merging together in my mind, Ape Out still shines with unique originality, and bundles it up into an awesomely stylish package. It’s definitely worth diving back into the harder and arcade mode, if you’re looking for a great challenge.
All in all Ape Out is a bananas game that has you ripping through soldiers, exploding oil drums, vibing to insanely cool music, and feeling less like an ape and more like a god.
Unique minimalistic art
Hard arcade feel
Levels can start to blend with each other