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Ripout is a co-op horror FPS that's a bit like a roguelike Doom 3

And your gun is a pet

Over the past few weeks I've sampled so many retro-styled FPSes, I'd class it as a form of training. I'm now attuned to their look, their pacing, their good and bad points. So, it came as no surprise when I found myself testing out the closed alpha of yet another of their ilk: Ripout, an upcoming sci-fi horror FPS that's very Doom 3.

What's nice is that vidbud Liam joined me! Both because he's a fan of the FPS genre and to be present with a jar in hand, lest I crumbled into dust. Thankfully this didn't happen and we had a pretty swell time, I'd say. It's early days for the game but there's potential there.

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Liam and I were joined by Pet Project Games' creative director Goran Rajšić, who kindly steered us through one of Ripout's early sectors. These are procedurally generated levels that'll have you descending into a kind of living nightmare, completing some tasks, and hopefully making it back alive so you can do it all over again. As you can probably tell, there's a hint of roguelike to it all. You collect perks from upgrade stations as you go, and any crafting components you pilfer can be brought back to base, then spent on weapon and armour upgrades. However! If you die, you lose what you've earned on that run.

Our mission landed us in a sketchy spaceship replete with flickering CRTs and dangling wires and barely illuminated hallways. Our tasks? Find some mutated officers and the body of a bloke with some log codes. So, we checked the markers on our HUD and cautiously followed our noses – and the tips of our twitchy guns. It wasn't so much a sprawling open world space, but more of a linear comb through a nice mixture of dilapidated offices, crumbling corridors, and eerie hangars. As we found each deceased fella, we held down a button, interacted with them and moved onto the next marker. In-between the box-ticking, a few enemies would spring from egg sacks or attempt jump scares as we cautiously opened doors. In the end, our quest log announced we'd ticked off everything and then steered us back to our starting point so we could extract.

I wouldn't say we ever felt up against it, you know? Enemies either attacked us in small numbers, or opted for one-on-one trickles in enclosed spaces, which made managing their numbers, well... manageable. Exploration felt good, mind, as delving into an alien environment inspired by classic horror films like The Thing generated an infectious, "Oh god, oh no" kinda vibe.

A horrifying monster marches towards the player in Ripout.

One thing that truly separates Ripout from other retro-styled FPS games? Living guns, mate. Not only are they beefy bullet spewers, they've also got a parasitic pet nested atop them. If there's a particularly menacing enemy, you can command your pet to gnaw at its neck like a squirrel possessed. Not only does it give you breathing room in a pinch, but you can also time the move with co-op buddies to dismantle powerful foes in a shower of giblets. While its novelty factor wore off quite quickly, I liked how it encouraged us to pause and embrace our inner tag-team wrestler.

As for the guns themselves, they felt pretty weighty albeit with some room for added heft. I used the shotgun, which felt a bit smushy, while Liam used an assault rifle which definitely had more pop. And as it was an early build, we fought off a small number of enemy types: dogs with TVs for faces emerged from gory egg sacks, gym buffs with robotic spider legs clattered towards us, and one eldritch horror who lurked on a bridge.

Numbers sprung out of baddies with each blast of lead, a bit like Borderlands or Destiny, and enemies had specific weak points that would flash yellow if you happened to hit them in their robotic gonads. There's no scanning enemies to out said location of gonads, so it's largely guesswork the first few times you rattle them with bullets. It might sound a bit clunky, but figuring it out for yourself actually encouraged us to learn where to rain pain on enemies. As for the numbers thing, though, I'm unsure whether it worked in the game's favour or not, as I found it yanked me out of the nightmare and lit up its roguelike elements a little too harshly.

And while the game's atmosphere was spooky and unsettling, with ominous wubs and hissing doors, I didn't find it all that scary, really. From the gameplay trailer I expected my bones to rattle and a little pee to escape, but nah, my pants were dry and totally fresh throughout. Good news for those who aren't fans of sheer terror, yet I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. Here's hoping future levels and updates give it a little more a raise to the goosebumps.

Two players cautiously approach TV-dogs in Ripout.

What came as a pleasant - or unpleasant - suprise were these little parasites who pottered around the freighter. Think of them as dinky, fleshy traffic cones that you can latch onto yourself for temporary buffs, like a shoulder-mounted laser cannon, or shield, or big arm that delivers big smacks. Pretty cool, right? Well - get this – enemies can benefit from them too. Not only that, but parasites will gravitate towards them over you, and if enemies get two or more of the suckers on them they can really start to become big problems. Often when we'd be fighting gym-dudes-with-spider-legs, for example, the parasites would latch onto them, granting them shields or extra firepower or both. This meant we'd have to remove them like ticks before we moved onto their weak spots. And we learned to sweep areas of parasites first, either condemning them to an early grave, or sticking as many as we could to ourselves before they could latch onto an enemy. It's neat idea that adds welcome chaos to encounters and makes fights feel more organic, too.

But there is the option to take things slowly and assess the situation. Everyone's outfitted with a silenced pistol and an axe, both of which will let you stealth kill enemies so as not to draw attention. While Liam and I opted to, errr, go loud, we were told that the final game will cater for those looking for a full-on stealth experience or otherwise. One clear route down the stealth path came in the form of upgrade stations dotted around the freighter. They'd have a selection of the usual suspects, like increased axe damage or shorter pet cooldowns. The idea being that over the course of a mission, you'd start piecing together a build that suits your chosen playstyle, whether that's stealth or pure aggression. While these upgrades weren't all that exciting, it's hard not to get caught up in the joy of seeing your perks stack up. Again, here's hoping the upgrade stations gain some extra flavour in the full release.

And that was our brief look at Ripout, a sci-fi FPS with a hint of roguelike sprinkled in there. Despite being in an early closed alpha state, Liam and I came away fairly impressed by the package on offer. It's a game with some novel ideas and a roguelike loop that has the potential to hook you in, but whether it'll all marry together come release day remains to be seen. If you're interested in giving the game a whirl for yourself, either in three player co-op or on your lonesome, a Ripout demo is available to download right now.

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Ed Thorn avatar

Ed Thorn

Reviews Editor

When Ed's not cracking thugs with bicycles in Yakuza, he's likely swinging a badminton racket in real life. Any genre goes, but he's very into shooters and likes a weighty gun, particularly if they have a chainsaw attached to them. Adores orange and mango squash, unsure about olives.