Ape Out is a twinstick beat em up where the player controls a deranged escaped Ape as he attempts to fight his way through dozens of procedurally generated levels, all the while listening to the longest drum solo of all time. With super satisfying combat; stylistic, unique graphics; and a killer soundtrack, Ape Out is a welcome addition to the Switch.
Ape Out has the player take control of an Ape. Who wants to escape. With a cape. Ok he doesn’t wear a cape, I just like to rhyme – you got me. So from the very beginning of the game, the player has no choice but to run, left to right, through a maze of bad guys with gunmen who wish to kill the Ape. Sounds simple, right? Well, you’d be correct. The controls are merely ‘move, look, hit, grab’. That’s it. As soon as you burst through the barrier to the next level, you’re met with guns pointed straight at you. They never miss, so there’s no point in trying to zig-zag away.
So what do you do? You run up to the guy with the gun, grab him, make him shoot his best friend, then throw him at his other mate, where they both splatter the ground with their exploded corpses. Or, you could run up to him and give him a gentle love tap, sending him flying into the wall, painting your own Banksy. Or, you could just run around him, and avoid fighting altogether. Those are really the three main options, but when there’s 5-6 bad guys all in the same room, guns pointed directly at you, and you combine all three aforementioned tactics – it’s pretty dang satisfying. Unfortunately, that’s where the gameplay loop pretty much comes to a half in terms of innovation.
While there were a few levels that had different scenarios attached to them, such as the lights being out and enemies only to be seen through their laser pointers, and levels with more explosive enemies than usual, they really aid in spicing up the gameplay that the game would desperately need otherwise. The Switch’s HD rumble could have used a little more attention put into it, as the pitter patter of the player running could have greatly benefitted from some minor vibrations. Additionally, the Switch’s portability, at least for myself, was not a benefit for Ape Out. We found it was best to settle down and focus all of your attention on the game, rather than play it on a bus or somewhere where the soundtrack and gameplay can really be appreciated to its fullest.
There is no story of significant value to be found in this game. You are ape. You smash.
Graphics / Art Direction
When I was waiting for the game to load for the first time, the jumbled, ‘static feedback’-like art style forced me to look away a few times. While unique and an artistic marvel, this static effect was constant in the background scenery, and really put a strain on my eyes after a while. Some may not be affected like I was, but this was not a game I could sit down and play for more than 15 minutes in one session without resting. However, other than that qualm, the graphics were absolutely gorgeous. Detail on character models is wonderful, with enemies having small details such as their reloading effects – things that wouldn’t be completely necessary in a game like this, but are still added to create a more fleshed out experience for the player.
Music / Sound Design
Remember how Doom (2016) had epic bass-boosted rock anthems belting while you pulverised enemies? Well just imagine that, except it’s a guy going absolutely ballistic on a set of drums. It’s pretty cool. Flourishes of cymbals enunciate kills, really giving the whole ‘slaughtering waves of enemies’ formula a refreshing touch.
Final Score 85%
Ape Out is an incredible addition to the Switch’s repertoire of games, and will bring hours of killing pleasure straight to your hands. With a simply beautiful soundtrack, gorgeous (if not a bit nauseating) graphics, and simple, yet super satisfying gameplay, this game will not be a regretful purchase.