Pet Project Games is working on Ripout, a game in which you and your friends can shoot your way through destroyed, terrifying spaceships to complete a mission and then rinse and repeat. This sort of game when you are infinitely doing what is essentially the same mission over and over with a different reason each time can get old and repetitive for some players. But the key is in the gameplay.
Ripout manages to be action-packed and fun to play for a few hours, even if the core of the game is very easily grasped. If you are looking for an in-depth story, you better look somewhere else. But, on the other hand, if you are looking for a co-op game to play with your friends that can be enjoyed in short sessions and can be fast-paced, strategic, and relying on teamwork, you may have struck gold with Ripout.
Story – Not What You Are Here For
The story of Ripout is basic, and borderline uninteresting. You are a nameless soldier in the year 2084, after humanity has been all but wiped out by its own creation: a sentient bioweapon of sorts that was engineered to fend off some alien threat in the past. This creation had the ability to biologically merge and utilize technology, but it grew out of control and rebelled against humanity.
Now, from the safety of your spaceship, you and your friends must venture into derelict spaceships with a variety of goals to fulfill. Of course these spaceships have been overrun by the cell and you must now fight your way through the ships battling it and make it out alive.
There isn’t much to be had in Ripout story-wise, and it’s barely a small paragraph of text (at least during the current Beta) at the beginning of the game to provide the context (or rather, an excuse) for why you are doing what you are doing. However, if you are playing Ripout for the story, then you are playing it wrong.
You can choose one out of a couple of missions in your ship’s dashboard and then go and fulfill said missions, but with the exceptions of certain mechanics that may or may not be mission type-specific, you are effectively doing the same thing over and over again. Get to the place, shot your way into it, then make it back to your ship. Some of the details along the way may vary, but this is the core of the game.
Gameplay – Where Everything Comes Together
After getting that tiny but unavoidable part of the story out of the way, you are now into the nitty-gritty of Ripout. You pick your mission in your ship and you board your… other, smaller ship, or wait for your friends to join first, assuming they can do it without the game crashing, that is, and then off you go to salvage or find whatever it is you’re doing this time around. Again, assuming the game doesn’t crash once you get to the derelict ship, then it’s shooting time.
Except that you probably don’t want to be shooting right away. You are equipped with 2 firearms and 1 melee weapon. One of the firearms is what the game calls your “pet gun”, and this is one of the single, most interesting aspects of Ripout. Your pet gun is a gun that is alive, but unlike some other game that recently came out, just because it’s alive it doesn’t mean that it wants to talk to you, or that it can. This gun is essentially a large bug that you can fire from or command to attack your enemies for you.
Your second firearm is, at least when starting the game, a simple handgun which comes in handy when you are pinned down and can’t waste time reloading your pet gun. You may think you can rely entirely on your sidearm for the early parts of the ship, run out of bullets on it and then switch back to your main gun, because I thought that myself after being absolutely destroyed on my first mission. But then you come to find out that Ripout requires finesse and planning. If you don’t have any ammo for your sidearm, and you send your pet to attack the enemy directly, then you are left with only your melee weapon.
And you do not want to be left only with your melee weapon if you didn’t specifically plan for it. Sure, there are smaller enemies that fall fairly quickly with the melee weapon and it is a great way to save ammo, but things have a way of becoming chaotic from one second to the next in Ripout, and you don’t want to be caught off guard with only an axe to try and defend yourself.
Take a Moment and Breath
After the first couple of playthroughs, you’ll find out that you can’t be all trigger happy like you would on other games. Ammo is scarce and valuable, and you need to find a balance in the way you do things and how you assimilate the environment, which brings me to the second most interesting thing about the game besides the pet gun: the enhancements.
All of the ships are inhabited by small alien beings that vary in their looks from what seems mostly biological to mostly mechanic or technological. These will mostly ignore you. They do become aggressive if something else, something bigger, is actively attacking you. But the most interesting thing about them is that you can send your pet to grab them for you and they bring them to you and you can use their characteristics to your advantage.
One of them looks like a long alien arm. You can use it to smack enemies and it does a decent amount of damage and great range- Another one is a small cannon that fires an energy bullet. Another one is a shield (which is one of the best, in my opinion). There are many more but you get the idea. There is a catch, though. You can only carry one of them at a time, and the ones you don’t carry you can let live for later or destroy, but if you don’t destroy them and get attacked by a larger being, they can also incorporate them to their own body and take advantage of their perks, so there is a strategy element to the game, which works great.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Playing with friends increases the difficulty significantly, but it makes for one of the best aspects Ripout has to offer, the teamwork. Once everyone in your time has had a chance to get used to the mechanics of the game, they know how the enhancements work and they know that they can’t be trigger happy, is when the pieces start to fall into place.
My team and I would have to talk over strategies and know how to adapt and change them on the go. To save ammo we would have one of us take point with the melee weapon and the other two or three stay behind with firearms and rotate the position. When finding ammo we would always ask who was more in need of it before taking it for ourselves. The same went with the medpacks. After a first few unsuccessful runs, we all realized that communication was key, which makes for a great co-op game.
If I was comparing Ripout to other games I’d say that this one is a mix of GTFO and Left 4 Dead, with a lot of the same mechanics, with a clear inspiration on Deadspace for its settings and atmosphere.
There were some things I wish the game could implement in the future, such as being able to see your teammates health and ammo somewhere in your hud, or being clearer when you are selecting a mission, perhaps a better customization screen or navigation. But let’s not forget the game is still in Beta, so these may very well still happen. Looking at the state notes from the developers from the previous state of the game, it seems obvious they are committed to making a great game and so far they are going in the right direction.
Graphics & Sound
I was expecting this Beta experience to be janky, laggy and to suffer once I started playing co-op online. But I was pleasantly surprised when that was not the case at all. The team behind Ripout clearly has stabilization and performance front and center in their priorities list, which is refreshing to see. If you have a gorgeous looking game than can’t run properly on most equipment then you might as well have no game. Between me and my friends we range from lower-mid to high specs PCs and we all had a great experience running the game together.
There were some issues where the runs wouldn’t start and it would crash instead repeatedly, but it is a Beta build and I would expect these issues to be resolved by launch. It was also better to have the player with the best bandwidth hosting the game, but that can be said for most games anyway.
The environment and graphics, as mentioned before, seem to be inspired by the likes of Deadspace, which is in no way a bad thing. They are also done very beautifully. Although the most visually striking elements of the environments tend to be in the background, those that you can interact with like the enemies, piles of flesh and weapons, particularly the pet guns, are also great to look at.
I must make a particular point about the pet gun when it comes to graphics. They are very well designed, you can see the insect-like movement of the weapon when you interact with it to reload it, for instance. It really has a personality of its own even if its a silent partner.
Sounds are more than adequate. The guns feel and sound good enough to not break immersion, and the same goes for the world, everything reacts more or less how you would expect, so the playthroughs are always nice to go through. The map designs do get a little repetitive after the 10th time you’ve seen a particular section you will already know how to navigate it most effectively, even if the enemies are laid out in a different way this time
The music is nothing to write home about, but it also won’t break your immersion. Is mostly secondary to the rest of the game, but if you are expected to be in communication with your team, it makes sense that it was done this way. The eerie sounds of the environment are well done but they also get old and repetitive by your 15th run.
Ripout was previewed on PC with a key provided by pr-outreach.