Petting dogs in games is old news: In boomer shooter Ripout, you can pet your gun
Ripout’s standout feature isn’t the retro-future ’80s aesthetic. attach to bigger aliens and come and kill you. It’s not the looter shooter’s aspiration, nor the rogue-like setup of its levels. No, it’s the gun. Your weapon. Your companion weapon.
That’s right, your gun is alive – and it’s not something relentless and irritating like your Johnson in Shadows of the Damned, or those crazy endless guns in High on Life. Your weapon is better; more ‘man’s best friend’ than ‘odious beaund’. In Ripout, you wield a tiny pet alien, looking something between a shrunken xenomorph and a gothic gargoyle, that fires bullets from its maw and rips body parts off grotesque aliens. And you can stroke it, if you feel compelled.
This living weapon is central to everything Ripout does. The game, an avowed boomer shooter from a team of developers who draw heavily on ’90s shooters, is an early gameplay effort that has no cutscenes, no cutscenes, and no “fluff” ( by creative director, Goran Rajsic). Instead, the 10-strong development team focused all of their efforts on shooting, level setup, and – of course – your weapon.
While you might look at the gameplay demo embedded above and think “oh, that’s like DOOM!”, Rajsic feels it’s more comparable to Doom 3 or Quake. The game, which can be played co-op multiplayer, is more of a tactical shooter than a run-and-gun rampage.
“Even though it looks like Doom, it’s not run-and-gun,” says Rajsic. “You go into the unknown, into space – you go into tough confrontations. You have to think about how you’re going to approach situations, how you’re going to build weapons, how you’re going to experiment.
That’s where your pet comes in: on each of the randomly generated ships you find, you’ll find small wandering alien creatures – if you send your pet weapon to fetch these creatures, you can use them as weapons . Some transform into a powerful melee claw you can use to knock enemies away, some eject swarms of heat-seeking bio-missiles. Choose one, and it’s like using two living alien weapons. That’s crazy.
To move through ships and help save humanity from the alien threat, you’ll need to focus on pointing your pet at enemies’ weak spots: mutants can get limbs and armaments ripped off, and if you want to survive in this difficult game (the difficulty scales according to the number of players), you will have to weaken your enemies as much as possible. You’re also going to want to make sure those little wandering creatures don’t attach themselves to mutants. Because it will complicate your life.
“There are no bosses in the game,” Rajsic tells us. “We wanted to use combinations of creatures instead.” There’s a mutant – a big bastard – who will be able to send your pet back to you if some type of alien becomes attached to it. There’s another one that can effectively blast you with explosives once it merges with the mutants. You have to be careful and use your pet to catch aliens before they overpower your enemies.
“It’s better to collect the aliens, so the enemies don’t do it,” says Rajsic. “Because they become very difficult to defeat once they are fed enough.” This is demonstrated right in front of us when he – a lead game developer – dies almost immediately when one of the larger monsters spawns with some alien upgrades stuck to its body. He teleports behind Rajsic and kills him.
The bright side ? We need to return to the central ship and inspect the weapon again. With each run, you can craft coins as you explore. The game is part loot shooter and part roguelike, with quite a few items that stay with you between runs. This means – great news! – you can improve your pet and make it even more powerful, even faster, even better. Maybe even cuter (if you find horror like Alien, The Fly and The Thing cute, that is).
“We have a lot of unique animations, and we’re always working to make the animal feel more alive,” Rajsic tells us as we pet the little guy. It moves its mandibles and trills. I can’t wait to see him rip another alien apart.
Ripout does a lot of really cool stuff, and in a world where boomer shooters keep getting more popular and better, it has a chance to stand out as something really special. Ripout will launch on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S in 2022.