Ape Out (PC) review
"Don't you monkey with the monkey."
Ape Out nails its introduction. It gives you a quick flash of its colorful silhouette art style and wonderful music, just before placing you in a guarded enclosure. True to its title, you control an ape who's about to stage a straightforward getaway in the most bestial, brutal way: by running amok and dismembering humans. You get the party started by knocking down a door, sending the guard behind it flying into a nearby wall, which he coats with his insides. Crash cymbals cry out as he makes contact, putting an exciting and grim emphasis on his death. From there, you're free to pad through the halls and reduce anyone who gets in your way to a bloody splotch by shoving them violently into the walls around you, while the music bangs along to the rhythm of your rampage...
Making use of the game's top-down perspective, you plot out a course that you think will likely lead you to the next checkpoint. Meanwhile, enemies approach you from all angles, presenting you with new situations with which to deal. Though you might feel inclined to engage every target in combat, you soon realize that you're better off abiding the animal instincts that tell you remain focused on fleeing, only taking out an assailant when it poses a threat. Sometimes its better to avoid battle altogether, as fighting could leave you vulnerable to bullets. However, other scenarios might require you to eliminate as many humans as possible. This is especially true when you're trying to tear a heavy door down while guards approach you from all angles. That's when you need to consider their placement, the weapons they carry, and the presence of environmental fixtures around you. You might bump off a couple dudes, hide behind a column until a nearby heavy pops off a shotgun blast, then send him flying into a demolitions expert to set off a huge explosion. After that, you can rip the door off and use it as a shield for a bit...
Or toss it into a cluster of goons and leave a nice red streak on the floor...
Things get intense quickly. Before long, the weak adversaries you take on in the early phases call for snipers and special forces goons who rappel their way through windows. In response, you weave through corridors and duck into rooms, sometimes waiting around corners to take out whole groups of pursuers so you can move on more safely. Before you know it, you're charging into more open spaces and greater numbers of opponents, wondering how you're going to survive while everyone has a clear shot of you. Though you fail a few times, you eventually emerge victorious as the soundtrack reach a climax. The game proclaims you're done with "disc one" and you feel accomplished. However, your blood is still pumping and you hope this isn't the end yet. That's when "disc two" fires up...
Ape Out offers four scenarios that serve as mini-campaigns. The first one concerns a research lab, and the second sees you exiting a high rise. I know this sounds cheesy, but the best part of this new segment involves pushing your enemies out of windows and watching them splat on the pavement below. Later on, you can even shove them off a ship and watch them hit the water before disappearing beneath the waves. Finally, the last scenario gives you a neat segment where you set other animals free to aid in the onslaught.
Sadly, you don't see much variety from the second disc onward. You get more or less the same experience, except that the music gets jazzier, stages become longer, foes grow smarter, and the experience becomes more intense. In almost every way, Ape Out progresses as it should, growing into the feral beast of an action game you absolutely hope it is.
Yeah, you knew there was a "but" coming. Thankfully, it's a small one...
The stages on offer are somewhat procedurally generated. They all possess a hard set layout that only changes slightly each time you respawn. During the early portions of the proceedings, the randomization is not quite as noticeable and doesn't cause any real problems. However, as you delve deeper into the experience, you notice that some challenges partly boil down to luck. For instance, one stage near the end of the boat segment becomes easier if you don't run into many shotgun guards. Sometimes they're all over the place, but occasionally they'll take an apparent backseat and leave you with the easily eluded flamethrower-toting soldiers.
Honestly, I had to scrape for negative points to make. No, it's not a perfect or overly complex title, or even terribly original. It's basically Hotline Miami with less stealth. However, Ape Out knows what it is and leans heavily into its jazz-infused mayhem. It's an action piece that most likely sports a little commentary on the way we treat wildlife as a commodity, but also wants you to have fun giving people a thrashing while grooving out to the wonderful sounds of composer Matt Boch. Highly recommended!
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (July 08, 2021)
Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.
If you enjoyed this Ape Out review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!