In a move that would make John Carpenter beam with joy, Doom-like FPS horror game Ripout lets you equip gory body mods from every enemy you slay. And here’s the best bit: enemies can do the same.
In a hands-on tour of the forthcoming shooter, I spy a writhing mass of flesh skittering across the floor with what appears to be a giant hand protruding from the centre. The developer sitting next to me tells me to shoot it quickly so it doesn’t attach itself to an enemy in the distance. Before I register what he’s saying, another writhing clump of meaty tissue appears, with some kind of grossly inflamed pustule on its side – I miss this one too.
By the time the mental cogs clunk into place and I realise why I should be shooting these seemingly non-hostile critters, there’s a massive mutant bearing down on me with a bulging blister on one shoulder and an extra claw poking out of the other. The blister pops, showering me with toxic goop, and the claw finishes me off with a quick swipe.
These mods come in other forms like laser cannons and protective shields, and larger enemies can have three of these fused to them in any combination. In one fight I’m dodging homing blobs of bile, lasers, and claw attacks, while in the next encounter it’s just three waving appendages lunging at me in sequence like I’m in a Scooby Doo chase. However, enemies don’t start out fully modded. Often, the little mod delivery critters spring out from larger clumps of flesh, mid-battle, and latch onto the closest enemy, so a gunfight can transform right in front of your eyes.
It’s like a Katamari ball of gore and gadgets, and despite it sounding totally impractical, I wish it was in every FPS game. In essence, it’s just enemies that can pick up and swap weapons on the fly, but it makes shootouts so much more interesting because suddenly you and your AI opponent are sharing the same resources.
Alternatively, you can grab a mod for yourself. Loitering beneath your primary weapon is a mysterious, spindly ‘pet’ that you can send out into the fray, either to gorge on a weak enemy, or to fetch you a mod. You can change your ‘pet gun’ between missions, but whether you choose a sniper rifle or a shotgun you’re stuck with it for the duration of your next excursion, so the mods you pick up along the way are arguably more important. Sure, a gun that chirps and wriggles when you run your hand over its snout is great gif content, but it takes a backseat when the action kicks into gear.
You’d think having only one gun in an FPS would feel limiting, but Ripout owes a lot more to immersive sims and outright horror games than circle-strafing shooters like Quake or Duke Nukem. Threats ramp up exceedingly fast if you’re not careful, and with limited ammo your best bet is to look out for explosive barrels and enemy ambushes in every dimly lit space station corridor you trudge through – having a ready-made trap in mind can save your life if you aggro too many enemies at once.
After a successful extraction it’s back to headquarters, where you can change your pet gun, combine salvage to upgrade either your armour or gun, and choose your next destination. Hopefully there’s enough variety in terms of enemy types, levels, and corpulent mods to keep gunfights interesting after a few hours of play, but the fact that you can do it all in co-op should help keep things fresh and terrifying as you and a pal embark on Ripout’s tougher missions.