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March 2024


Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: 3D Realms
Developer: Pet Project Games
Release Date: 2024


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PS5/XSX/PC Preview - 'Ripout'

by Cody Medellin on Nov. 22, 2023 @ 12:15 a.m. PST

Ripout is a co-op horror first-person shooter where you fight your way through alien infested ships with friends and a Living Pet Gun.

First-person shooter, procedurally generated levels and quests, and online multiplayer:  Roguelikes are no stranger to these elements — or a combination thereof. This brings up the eternal question of what a new game needs to do in a crowded genre to stand out among its peers. For Ripout, the answer is a pet gun.

Before we get there, we start with a premise that is pretty bleak even for modern sci-fi standards. While humanity is bickering among the stars, an alien force threatened to wipe out the species. Humans tried to fight back by using gene manipulation to create a line of super soldiers that would save everyone, but the effort backfired. The mutations went out of control and started to destroy everything around them. It is the distant future, and you are one of the last remaining genetically mutated soldiers that hasn't gone amok. You've woken up from a long cryogenic sleep, and the human race has scattered far and wide. While you have no direct commanding body to give you orders, you embark on your own mission to find derelict spacecraft and slowly retake control of them to find what's left of the species.

As alluded to earlier, Ripout is a first-person shooter where you can either go solo or with a squad to complete relatively short missions that last up to 20 minutes. There isn't a plethora of enemies to take down, but the ones you do encounter take some serious firepower to take down unless everyone is focusing their fire directly on one enemy at a time. Taking cues from roguelikes, the mission objectives, stage layouts and enemy layouts are randomized in every run, so there's always a level of freshness in each play session. Both the gunplay and melee attacking remain solid throughout, but players who prefer using a controller will need to tinker with the settings; the default level can feel too sensitive, which results in plenty of missed shots.

There are two major elements that make Ripout stand out in the genre. The first is the aforementioned pet gun, which looks like a standard sci-fi battle rifle but with a multi-limbed xenomorph head sticking out below the barrel. It really is a pet, since it squirms around independent of your shooting, and you even have a dedicated button to pet the gun. By default, you can launch the pet on enemies to kill them or at least inflict some damage. The cooldown times is long enough that you can't send the pet on a rampage to save ammo, but it is still a fine complement to the standard arsenal. Aim at some enemy limbs or the smaller creatures you encounter, and your pet returns with an enemy limb in tow to temporarily serve as another source of firepower or abilities, like freezing enemies in place.

The second element that spices up the game is the presence of crafting. You'll pick up elements in missions, and while they do nothing by themselves, they can be used as ingredients to craft new guns or more powerful versions of what you already have. It's a neat idea that gives the game a looter shooter vibe, even if the loot isn't too varied. The title breaks away from other roguelikes when it comes to what you retain after death. Whereas other games give you something so you're always making progress, you get absolutely nothing in Ripout if you die before a mission is completed. It's an all or nothing affair, which can be brutal but is also a refreshing change.

At the moment, there are a few things that could use some further development. The mission variety feels a bit sparse, as the missions are mostly about retrieving something or blowing up something. Level variety also suffers, as the environments may have different layouts but tend to look the same. The on-screen markers for your missions tend to lack clarity; they do a good job of pointing you in a direction but a poor job in differentiating elevation. Again, the game is still early in development, and the published roadmap lists fixes for some of these facets, but it is worth pointing out for those who want to jump in early.

Ripout is already marked as Playable on the Steam Deck, and the performance is quite good on the device. The game uses the full 1280x800 resolution but defaults everything to Epic, which results in an average frame rate that hovers around 50fps. You can drop the settings lower to gain some more frames, and it wouldn't affect the overall appearance too much. You'd want to do the same thing if you want to increase the battery life, as you'll be getting under two hours from the default settings at a full charge. The only other thing you might have to contend with is the game's smaller-than-expected text, but the system's screen magnifier helps, and you won't need it too much since there aren't too many things you'll need to read.

Already in Early Access now and set for a full 1.0 release next year, Ripout is already off to a good start. The shooting is good, while the pivot to making mission success paramount to leveling up adds some real steaks to each short play session. The pet gun is a neat concept, as is the idea of using enemy organisms for your own benefit. In short, Ripout looks promising, and we'll definitely be keeping tabs on its progress.

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