By: Patrick Morris
Short game, short video. One thing a lot of indie games have in common is their length. Without the massive resources and blockbuster budgets of their triple A counterparts often times it's in their own best interest for indie games to know when to say when. And while every now and then a small indie game like goose game, superhot, or Owlboy makes huge waves the ones that don’t are often good but even in a best case scenario are relegated to a small cult audience. So while Ape Out doesn’t come with the pedigree of some other indie games that manage to break through into the mainstream, it offers a short and sweet experience that is decidedly more indie and forced to stand out in unique ways because of that.
Welcome welcome welcome everyone welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. This week I played through another indie game, a game that I would definitely call good and one that I've already recommended to plenty of people but one that is absolutely worth its price of entry for someone looking for a quick and unique game to play. Lets talk about Ape Out.
Consider this your weekly spoiler warning: if you're super concerned with the story of a game that is clearly not super concerned with its own story then I guess stop watching now.
Ape Out is a game that has its entire premise explained in its title. It's a game about being an ape and trying to get out. You begin the game in captivity in some sort of animal testing facility. With the press of one button you’ve broken through the glass with one goal: kill every single human in sight. The story of Ape Out while extremely straight forward is actually pretty interesting. It's not its content that makes it interesting that’s all pretty simplistic and for lack of a better word uneventful. It's the way in which the story is told that makes it fun and engaging. As an ape whose soul objective is freedom from his captors the player moves through different settings on their journey to escape. With new levels come new color schemes portraying how that level is to be interpreted. And as the colors change and invert significant story beats are brought to the players attention. From testing facility, to office building (for some reason), to a ship, and eventually a zoo the player accompanies the ape to his final destination of…out.
The real meat and potatoes of Ape Out is in the gameplay. Nearly everything the game has to offer is seen within the first few minutes of gameplay only really changing things with new enemy varieties later in the game. But despite there not being any significant mechanics added the way Gabe Cuzzillo utilizes the mechanics available is very well done. By adding increasingly complex mazes to navigate and more powerful enemies in greater numbers the game becomes very difficult without ever getting frustrating. And what stands out as just such an incredible touch is the way that after every death the game shows the player the maze and their path through it all the up to the point at which they died.
But where Ape Out really stands out and the only element of the game that I would say exceeds good and places itself firmly into greatness territory is in it's presentation. The art style of the game is stunning, I really don’t think I'm being hyperbolic when I say that Ape Out LOOKS like nothing I've ever seen before. Characters are animated beautifully and the entire game looks stunning. What drives that look is the colors utilized to perfection throughout. During the roughly 2 hour plus duration of Ape Out every character and the ape are silhouetted in various colors against the ground as the game is played from a top down perspective. And those color schemes change from level to level and sometimes even in the middle of levels. The game is an absolute joy to look at and with it's incredible jazz sound track its almost just as fun to listen to.
When I first saw Ape Out in a Nintendo direct I was intrigued enough that it stayed on my radar long enough for the game to come out and go on sale. So having paid a measly $7 I can say that even if I had paid $20 I would have considered it money well spent. Don’t expect anything life changing from Ape Out but if you're just in the market for a quick fun game that doesn’t take much brain power Ape Out is a really good choice.
Did you play Ape Out or have I convinced you to? Let me know in the comments down below. And while you're down there don’t forget to hit that subscribe button for a new video and two new podcasts every week! You can see everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com. I'll be back next week talking about something else entirely so until then just go play some games.
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