You are an ape, an orange ape to be exact. You run down corridors while punching people to death and trying not to get shot. That’s the simple premise of indie game Ape Out.

It’s fast, and it’s fun, and it’s freaking bananas.

The game is developed by one person – Gabe Cuzzillo. I got to sit down with Cuzzillo at Gamescom 2018 and play about half an hour of Ape Out. The result? I now really want to play the rest of Ape Out.

Ape Out belongs to the Hotline Miami school of indie games: You need quick reflexes, some improvising skills, and a high tolerance for blood if you want to make it through a level.

Your goal is pretty simple – escape. In your way are reinforced doors, exploding barrels, and heavily-armed guards. The guards are your biggest obstacles, as they can take you down with three shots. They, however, go down after only one hit; you are a massive, raging gorilla after all.

Punching, throwing and crushing the human guards is immensely satisfying. It’s partly thanks to how they explode into splashes of red that contrast so well with the blues, greens, and browns of the level. However, it’s mostly thanks to the fantastic musical effects.

The loud sound of percussion accompanies each punch, and taking down multiple enemies in a row creates a bloody drum solo that urges you onwards. When combined with the drum beats in the background, the music turns each run through a level into a unique composition. The drummer in me was having a field day.

Ape Out Gamescom 2018

Ape Out is divided into four chapters with their own ape, design, and music style. All apes are colored the same bright orange, but I was assured by Cuzzillo they are indeed different. Otherwise, we would have been dealing with a very unlucky monkey.

I’ve played a few levels from three out of the four chapters. My favorite one was chapter 2, where you start on the top floor of a skyscraper and have to make your way down. I’m not sure what an angry gorilla is doing in an office 400 feet above street level, but here we are. The chapter’s surroundings affect the gameplay as well: You can throw people out of the build’s giant windows, dodge sniper fire, and levels are split into several different floors.

Levels are relatively linear and self-contained, but change a bit every time you die. There are new twists and turns in its corridors, and enemy type and placement is always different. The general layout of the level and significant events stay the same so that you won’t be completely surprised with every new run. But it’s still enough to keep you on your toes through it all.

Ape Out Gamescom 2018

Ape Out is a game built on skill, and I could feel myself getting better and better every time I died. It’s just so easy to get swept up in the loop of running, punching, dying and trying again. There’s a simultaneously fun and infuriating mechanic, where the game shows you exactly where you died relatively to the level’s exit, and what route you took. I died many times mere feet away from the exit, but I never got frustrated. Quite the contrary.

Both Cuzzillo and myself were yelling, booing and laughing every time I died by being too slow or doing something stupid like using an explosive enemy as a human shield. It made me realize just how fun Ape Out could be to play with others, even though there’s no co-op (there should definitely be co-op). It can also be pretty fun to stream since it can get really intense at times and can get actual, physical reactions out of people.

Ape Out is currently scheduled to release on PC and Switch later this year.

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