Developer Pet Project Games was formed by seasoned developers in 2020, the major tagline for the studio is ‘We Make Monsters’, a fitting description of their first major game, Ripout, a co-op Sci-Fi shooter that has some impressive promise upon first impressions.
Ripout is a pretty simple premise. You play as a soldier from the survivors of Earth as they slowly migrate to a new planet. The reason is due to experiments gone wrong, as mutant weapon hybrids begin to rebel against humanity, slowly killing and transforming them into monsters. Your goal is to board the derelict ships taken over by the mutants, clear them out with a loyal, living mutant pet weapon, and protect the rest of humanity before it is too late.
Taking cues from Sci-Fi horror classics like Alien and The Thing, Ripout boasts an impressive atmosphere. Corridors are dark and near lifeless, with moody lighting providing a visual sense of uneasiness for the player. You have randomized pulsating mounds of mutated flesh, electrical wires sizzling on the ground, and doors that barely open to other rooms, all bathed in flickering lights and massive shadows that give off an ominous feeling.
If there is one thing to take away from Ripout, it is the fact that Pet Project Games is able to visually create a memorable atmosphere with something so simple. One example is how they use musical and visual cues to ramp up tension randomly. Sometimes, you see a piece of the environment falling apart like a ventilation grate from the ceiling falling loose, and nothing happens. Other times, however, a mutant attacks when that ventilation grate opens up. It is this kind of randomness that not only keeps the players on their toes but keeps the tension fresh each time you run through a mission.
It’s also impressive considering how everything is designed. Pet Project Games noted that all of Ripout is essentially procedurally generated in some capacity, so ship layouts, the location of items, hazards, and even enemy placements are randomized. The purpose of this is replayability. Each mission lasts roughly between 15 to 40 minutes of real-time to complete - perfect for bite-sized gaming - so the goal is to repeat runs as often as possible. You will have a number of missions through the main campaign, where you need to go through several ships at a time to clear them out of mutant threats. You then have to finish off by securing the sector you are in. Once completed players will have access to these missions again, allowing for multiple run-throughs either alone or with two other friends.
There are benefits to multiple completions. First is the roguelike elements of randomization offering unique gameplay scenarios; since enemies and supplies are randomized, you have a chance of finding something rare or unique to bring back to your home base. This is also where crafting can come into play; a major part of Ripout will be upgrading the powers of your pet weapon, increasing damage or abilities for example. While the demo had no crafting attached to it, Pet Project Games noted that their plans include craftable weapons, upgrades, armor, and more for the full game.
Of course, the bulk of your time will be fighting off these grotesquely designed mutants. They do seem a bit generic at first; again, the influences of The Thing and games like Dead Space actually come to mind with their designs. There are differences though that are evident when playing. First, each mutant variant so far has a unique movement and attack animation; the quadruped dog-like creatures run and charge, while the larger, humanoid monsters skitter slowly like a monstrous crab. The mix of fleshy growths and steel bits on the enemies adds a lot more character to their design, these are mutated monstrosities in every sense of the word, with cancerous growths wrapping themselves along with anything it can use as arms or legs.
Your main weapon is a living pet gun that can not only shoot but be thrown onto enemies for a bit of extra damage. Sometimes this can result in an instant kill, this is especially the case if you play co-op, two guns thrown at the same time automatically yield a dead mutant. Other times, it's a strategic move, distracting a mutant while you fight from afar with a side pistol or special upgrade. Your pet gun comes in three major types at the start, a standard assault rifle, a long-range rifle, and a shotgun variant. Each of course can be upgraded or altered between missions, so Ripout does provide options for weapon playstyle.
Your pet guns can also pounce on small upgrade monsters that often roam around parts of each level. If you do, you gain the upgrade for yourself to use as an attack or defensive The upgrades come in a few varieties; one is a bio-shield that protects you from some damage, and another allows you to shoot plasma projectiles from your shoulder, and so forth. The catch is enemy mutants can grab these too, making them even tougher to deal with. You can of course shoot off their acquired upgrades, but aiming for a moving target may prove difficult at times, especially if you get surrounded by a few creatures at once.
The gameplay loop of Ripout however is pretty short but well polished in the demo. What sells a lot of the fun is the randomness of the enemy placements, and thankfully the game's controls are pretty easy to master. You have your standard keyboard and mouse controls, but I opted for a controller setup that I was able to easily customize with both visual cues, something I wish more games did for control customization. Thankfully every major action can be mapped to a standard controller setup, and the only issue was tweaking sensitivity to match what I wanted.
Pet Project Games is planning to support Ripout once it does release later this year, but ultimately though, the main goal of Ripout is to provide solid pick-up and play gameplay that can be unique every time you play it. All of the elements are in place for a solid co-op shooter, and if nothing else, the design, controls, and atmosphere of Ripout provide a good foundation to build upon. We shall see how it all comes together when the game officially launches later this year. For anyone looking to try Ripout for themselves though, they can test their skills when an open demo goes live between June 13th - 20th.
TechRaptor previewed Ripout on PC using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is set to release sometime this year on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.