On a surface level, Ape Out resembles an earlier Devolver Digital-published title, Hotline Miami. The game has the same top-down presentation and the same love of abstract hyper-violence. That's where the comparisons between Ape Out and Hotline Miami cease.
As the name suggests, in Ape Out you play a gorilla intent on securing their freedom from a lab. To do so, you have to plan a high-speed escape. There's only a few moves at your disposal: a vicious punch or a grab that allows you to use guards as human shields or throw them at other guards with violent force. Walls of glass can be busted through if you have enough momentum. You can also grab metal doors to use as an impromptu barrier against bullets or a battering ram.
In every level, you're immediately thrust into the fight, running headlong towards the right side of the screen and your freedom. You have to think on the fly, because unlike Hotline Miami, the levels are procedurally-generated from specific rooms; you die, you get a new configuration. Ape Out is all about improvising your tactics and attacks, because you never quite know what's going to be around the corner.
That improvisational feel extends to the rest of the game. Ape Out's soundtrack is all jazz, with drums, bass drums, and bongos tapping out the background track and every hit in the game punctuated by a crashing cymbal. The beat moves you forward, while feeling like a freewheeling band watching your every move. Everything in Ape Out is designed to make you change things up and decide on the fly, as opposed to the meticulous planning of Hotline Miami.
Ape Out is a minimalistic in its art style, all harsh blacks for the walls in your way, with splashes of white and other colors to denote the ape and his opponents. Upon death, the game zooms out and shows you the path you took through the level until this point. This isn't just a cool visualization, it also shows you the vague shape of the available rooms for your next run.
Unlike half of the game's I write about in preview form, you can actually play Ape Out right now. There's a demo available on Steam. Get out there and murder some hapless human guards!