Now the time has finally come and the monkey is let out of the bag. With Ape Out, top-down Klopper veterans and fans of liberally detached jazz get the full program for the PC and the switch. We rolled up our furry sleeves and beat ourselves through all kinds of floors.
Give the monkey sugar, otherwise it’s sour
If you had to translate Ape Out into German, then the monkey would be loose in the truest sense of the word. A thousand faceless henchmen have captured you, a gorilla, and put you behind bars. It’s a shame that instead of the bars it’s a wall of glass and you’re a full-grown gorilla. So you smash the glass and the guard standing in front of it into a bloody mass on the nearest wall and fight your way to freedom. So and no other way your escape from the clutches of the… people begins. But they are equipped with a lot of firepower and are hunting you again. Moreover, your path is anything but straight.
A monkey meets Jazz, Saul Bass and Splatter – And it’s terrific!
If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen pretty much everything Ape Out has to offer. Is that bad? Not at all! As simple as the elements appear together, the better they fit together. The levels extend into almost endless labyrinths, which you have to cross. In the style of the American graphic artist Saul Bass the walls of the areas flicker over your screen and show you the limits. In general there is a great simplicity in the graphics. Occasionally office equipment or loose cables decorate the scenery. The gorilla shines in orange, the villains in simple white with few details according to their abilities. Only the flames of oil barrels, the cartridges of rifles or glowing alarm sirens bring color highlights into the action.
The most conspicuous feature of Ape Out is the musical chaos, as some would call it. The freejazz drummers on the other hand will probably shed tears of joy. Already with the level selection the musical component becomes clear. So you don’t just clout through worlds, but through musical albums, including cover and A- or B-side. As soon as you take your first steps, a sometimes tactful and then completely lost drum set begins to accompany your adventures with a large number of drums. Each henchman you hurl on the other or squash on the wall controls a proper escalation of the cymbals to the drums. In the style of free jazz, you’ll be creating surprising accents of music here and there. The never ending drums, which only correspond to your movements, convey the feeling of restlessness and clarify the plight of the captured wild animal.
When simplicity blends with gaudy colour
You won’t find complex mechanics or other gameplay finesses on Ape Out. The biggest change from moving and pushing/boxing is your ability to grab human shields that were about to shoot you down. Not only will you be able to protect your three puny hit points (each hit deals damage). A gorilla-packed human panics and shoots wildly around himself. Stupid when his real target is behind him. So you mow your enemies down with their own bullets. If you are tired of the little man, his body must serve as the last bullet instance.
In addition to the music, the focus is on the design in some places. As minimalistic as Ape Out may seem, the colorful effects seem more exaggerated when you end the lives of your tormentors. Whether on the wall, by explosion or thrown out of the window, it splashes and leaves plenty of blood and even lets you throw body parts. The chosen art style makes the high percentage of gore seem completely inappropriate, but the bright choice of colors makes it immediately invalidate itself and keep the game on a semi-serious track throughout.
If you find the game too easy in the first run, you can look forward to a hardcore mode. More enemies, more rifle barrels pointing at you, and even more free jazz are looking forward to chasing you through the levels again and taking you down. If you want to register on the highscore list with your gorilla, you can enjoy all levels in the classic arcade mode.
Final chord: The conclusion
Is Ape Out fun? But hello! Does it impress with its simple design on all fronts (and wild jazz) and is it still interesting? Absolutely! But why, doesn’t it get a smooth 10/10? Ape Out basically does everything right that it does. But that’s also a bit of a drawback. The biggest gameplay changes hide in the color background and changing opponents. It all works quite well, but it doesn’t present the player with many challenges.
Some bosses, hidden collectables or other elements, which set the scene for the small but useful skill set of the gorilla, would have given the monkey theatre a little more freshness and longevity. For the Switch – and thus preferably on the way – the title is absolutely successful and bridges the monotony for a short time – for example on journeys. For longer sessions on the PC it is simply not gripping enough and quickly becomes monotonous. Ape Out leaves a few points behind because with its simplicity it doesn’t dare to take larger steps.