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Mutant and proud: preventing disaster alongside genetically altered mutants in Ripout

By Aaron Potter. Posted

Preventing disaster in the near-future universe of Ripout is not an option. Because it’s already arrived. Instead, the main objective – as made evident in our short hands-on demo – is to simply get in and get out while trying to survive. That way, you stand a chance of ridding whatever mutant menace plagues the space freighter you’re currently docked with, all while gaining enough loot and resources to do a better job the next time around. It’s clear that for its debut release, Pet Project Games aims to craft a different style of online co-op horror FPS, intended to balance action and scares in equal measure, where playing stealthily can offer just as much benefit as going loud.

It’s this interesting blend that first caught the eye of 3D Realms, a legendary FPS powerhouse in its own right, who personally sought Pet Project out with an offer to publish the game after witnessing Ripout’s debut trailer. Much time has passed since August 2021, however, and now the ten-person Serbian-based team is prepping for an imminent launch that it hopes players on PC and current-gen will jive with.

Set entirely in a grimy universe where humanity has been forced to flee in search of safety, Ripout is structured in such a way that provides plenty of reasons to keep on fighting. “It has elements of a looter-shooter,” explains creative director Goran Rajšić. “You will enter the spaceship and get loot. Get your guns, get new attachments, as well as [finding] secrets about what happened.”

Missions are procedurally generated and specifically designed to be quick, containing simple and straightforward objectives that won’t give your squad time to dwell. Creeping around each ship’s environment means accruing vital weapon upgrades. “You’ve got schematics and you’ve got components that you can pick up during [missions on] the ships,” says Rajšić. “And then later on, you can build them.”

In between these bite-sized missions, you’ll return to your main hub, pooling the resources you’ve just gathered into creating better armour pieces. Some perks carry over between each run, and some don’t. Whatever your preferred playstyle, one thing’s for certain: those expecting a fair fight against the nightmarish creatures lurking on each vessel should think again. This isn’t Left 4 Dead where you can just spray and pray. Ripout is often about approaching missions tactically, especially since the layout of freighters and the upgrades available in them changes each time.

Fortunately, aiding players with this more stealth-centric approach is a handy tool made of the same stuff as the mutants – it also serves as Ripout’s namesake. “The main pitch of the game is you have a pet gun,” Rajšić reveals. “It’s a biotech weapon and it can jump on enemies and rip out their parts.” As well as using this living weapon against bigger enemies to target their weak parts, you can send it out to consume other smaller creatures you’ll see roaming the ship. It’ll then transform into a random temporary buff like a shield, or provide the ability to shoot heat-seeking missiles. “Stack all these, and it makes it easier for you to survive the ship,” says Rajšić. “But the idea is to give you a different approach every time; they give you different abilities for the pet.”

The pet gun is at the heart of everything in Ripout, to the extent that not using it (and treating the game like just another conventional first-person shooter) won’t see you progress very far. Pet Project has allowed you to tweak the difficulty somewhat by grading selectable missions on a scale between five and nine, but startling enemies always means potentially letting them take advantage of small creatures just like you and your own pet gun would. “The enemy behaviour changes,” says Rajšić. “If you spook them, they go into high alert. The enemies attach to [small creatures instead] and get different powers. They can also get shields, they can get teleports, they can get more melee attacks. So they will use these combinations if you don’t destroy them.”

Rajšić is hesitant to disclose the exact number of enemy and weapon types that will be available at launch, but the uniqueness the pet gun brings, coupled with short but intense random levels, already gives Ripout a moreish quality FPS veterans may struggle to put down. “The smaller ships last about 15 minutes,” he says. “Let’s say the bigger ones about half an hour, but we don’t want to go beyond that.”

More so than length, though, priority one for Pet Project is keeping the experience fresh. “We want every session to be different at least a bit, so there’s a lot of replayability. You do have a story that you progress [through], but if you die, you never play that exact mission again.”

Genre FPS, horror | Format PC  /  PS5  /  XB S/X | Developer Pet Project Games | Publisher 3D Realms | Release Q4 2022 | Social @RipoutGame

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