Ape Out is a top-down smash ’em up featuring an ape breaking free from captivity. Its story isn’t explained, but all signs point to the ape being a subject of cruel scientific experimentation. It’s your job to guide the ape through more than 30 levels to freedom. Armed guards abound, and your line of defense involves grabbing guards and using them as human shields or smashing them against walls. You can take two gunshots with minimal blood loss, but a third shot spells certain death, and a single hit from a rocket will kill you. Gameplay feels almost like a top-down shooter—except you’re the only one being shot at.
Gameplay is remarkably simple: move with the left joystick, push and throw guards with ZR, and grab guards with ZL. You can tear doors from their hinges with ZL, and ZR lets you bust through glass walls. But gameplay isn’t easy, especially since Ape Out intensifies with each new level. An assortment of armed guards are everywhere, and you’ll need to take them out before they have time to shoot. You can run from them, and you can often hide using the maze-like level design, but you can’t make it through a single level with these techniques alone. Levels are organized as tracks from retro vinyl records, with each seven-or-eight-track-long “record” comprising one chapter of gameplay, with four chapters in total.
Ape Out really shines in its graphics and sound. Its jazzy, drum-heavy soundtrack is a perfect fit for its chaotic gameplay, with cymbals crashing at each guard’s death. Guards’ bodies are predominantly white, and dead guards explode into bright red splats of blood. Your ape is orange, and when your ape is shot, it trails drops of orange blood. When the in-game lighting changes, these color schemes can change, adding a layer of variability and keeping gameplay fresh. Ape Out’s text is big, bold, and often bright banana-yellow. When you die, the level’s map is displayed, along with markings of your progress through the level and your proximity to the finish line.
Ape Out is perfect for players who love simple yet challenging gameplay. Advanced players will beat the main game rather quickly, but additional options like Arcade Mode and a harder difficulty setting provide a great deal of replayability. We love the focus on music, from the literal soundtrack to the gameplay’s organization as vinyl record tracks. And Ape Out’s sharp, colorful graphics are everything you would expect from a quality Devolver Digital title. For just $14.99, we think Ape Out offers remarkable value, especially for players looking for a game that’s simple to learn but hard to master.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Devolver Digital
Developer – Gabe Cuzzillo
Price – $14.99
Genre – Action, Arcade, Fighting, Adventure
Size – 3.0 GB
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick is a Super Mario Maker 2 enthusiast, but working with Nintendeal has fostered a love for tough-as-nails indies such as Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, and Cuphead. Sarah prefers sim games like Animal Crossing, Don’t Starve, and Stardew Valley, but she challenges herself by grinding Slay the Spire from time to time.