If you miss the claustrophobia-inducing spaceships of classic sci-fi horror games, Ripout might just be the game for you. While imperfect, Ripout aims to revive the essence of Doom 3 and Dead Space but adds its own roguelike twist to the formula.
Blurry Ships and Unseen Aliens
Upon starting the game, players are presented with a solid introduction to the game’s lore and the state of its world. A brief explanation is given for the upcoming body horror. In Ripout, you’re a soldier trying to uncover the truth after humanity’s defeat in an alien war.
RELATED: Ghostrunner 2 Review
We have a basic premise, some mystery, and then we’re sent off to investigate. Unfortunately, the lack of visual representation of the war led to a sense of detachment from the overall premise. Although not a significant problem, visuals depicting the war and its alien participants could be used to create an anxiety-inducing sense of anticipation that perfectly fits the genre.
Don’t play Ripout expecting a flawless gaming experience. The game has an indie feel and appears slightly blurry throughout for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me. Despite these issues, the design of the ships and creatures is impressive for a small studio. At times, I felt like I was playing Doom 3 again, using a flashlight to make sure it was safe to enter a corridor, and constantly looking behind me when I heard a noise. I genuinely appreciate how scary and tense it was to explore dead ships the first few times.
Narrow Corridors, Body Horror, and Pet Guns
When it comes to delivering good sci-fi horror moments, Ripout does it very well. It uses good old tricks seen both in Doom and Dead Space, and I love it. Narrow corridors, dark corners, and small tunnels can hide enemies and provide good jump scares. Some enemies even use them to hide and return later, complicating your life when you’re already swarmed or poorly positioned.
Deformed humans all over the floor can be enemies waiting to jump on you when you get distracted. You will also be greeted by fast dog-like creatures, giant half-machine mutants, and small critters that can merge with other enemies, granting them special abilities. Critters can also be used by you if you kill them with your pet.
In terms of overall gameplay, Ripout is a first-person shooter with an occasional arcade-like feel, but the movement feels odd. Character movement can feel excessively slow at times unless you run, but the stamina bar prevents you from moving faster when exploring. While I understand the intent behind this system, it doesn’t necessarily contribute to a satisfying gaming experience.
You carry an alien-looking assault riffle that is also your pet gun. It can be thrown at enemies to temporarily halt them and inflict damage. The pet gun is by far one of the most fun things in Ripout, and I wish it was expanded. If your pet gun kills one of the crawling creatures that merge with enemies, you can use its power. They might give you healing powers, a claw that deals good damage, a shield, or even a secondary ranged weapon. You also have access to a pistol as your secondary gun and a melee weapon.
The gameplay loop involves selecting your next procedurally generated mission with randomized temporary upgrades, completing simple objectives, returning to your shuttle to craft new items with collected resources, and then proceeding to the subsequent mission. Despite its promising concept, Ripout becomes somewhat repetitive and grindy after a few hours. The ships and enemies start feeling very samey, and new items can feel either inconsequential or take way too long to drop. Yet, I feel like this can all be improved before the game is launched.
When the Genres Collide
Ripout combines elements of co-op, roguelike, sci-fi, horror, and first-person shooter genres. While it has many appealing aspects, their integration could be more seamless. Clearer instructions would significantly enhance the player’s experience when booting the game.
Co-op is fun but lessens the horror side of the experience. The tactical, slow-paced approach is fun, but only when enemies don’t spawn in ways you can’t deal with them. The procedurally generated missions make the game fresh but also make the missions and environments less interesting as a consequence.
Another side effect of the roguelike elements of Ripout is enemy positioning. At times, battles didn’t feel fair. Being stuck in a narrow corridor between an environmental hazard and a bullet sponge enemy that just spawned is frustrating. However, I don’t think this can be avoided either. Luck is always a factor in games of this genre.
Those are all minor things that I hope will be polished over time, but they made me feel conflicted. Despite these issues, the core gameplay loop is engaging enough to keep players invested, at least for a while. I must say, though, that nothing took me out of the experience besides gambling for new upgrades.
This game is entertaining but is a tough sell. It has elements that I appreciate, and I enjoyed my time with it, but I can’t see myself playing this game for a long time. Overall, Ripout is a decent experience for its price, but only if you’re on board with everything it’s trying to accomplish. If you’re after a long-lasting, cohesive experience with well-planned moments, roguelikes might not be your cup of tea. And if you’re hunting for a deeply gratifying first-person shooter, this isn’t it, either. However, when it comes to first-person sci-fi roguelike horror games, there aren’t many options out there, and Ripout does a reasonably good job in this niche. Here’s hoping the game reaches its full potential by the time of its official release.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
- This article was updated on October 25th, 2023