TO PREFACE THIS: The game is early access. I will revisit it when it’s officially released and I do understand that much is subject to change.
GTFO is a survival horror cooperative experience developed and published by 10 Chambers Collective. In fact, some of the game designers from PAYDAY 2 also participated in the development. I’m not a big horror fan so liking this game was a bit of a surprise.
It is quite a tactical game, I play in a full squad with some of my friends which make it a bit easier (more gadgets, ammo, etc.) but it’s still challenging. I say it’s tactical because of how one has to go about doing a level, specifically how the game rewards you for planning and moving slowly rather than attempting to run and gun, a tactic which would see you run out of ammo mighty quick. Generally, we all take a variety of gadgets (we’ve liked using the C-Foam launcher, Mine Deployer, Turret, and Bio Tracker) and weapons (one of us has to have the sniper rifle). I think this aspect of the game makes it quite interesting as it gives everybody in the team a unique role to play.
There is a wide variety of guns and they all act differently, but they all look really plain (more on that later). One of my main issues with them, and a few others, is that the guns don’t have any punch and they all feel very lethargic. That is to say, they all feel a bit slow. The gun sounds are a bit plain as well. They could do with a complete revamp. However, moving back to the actual gameplay aspect of this, the range of guns means that there are a range of roles to fill.
We always carried at least one sniper rifle to deal with the “Trackers” which are these dudes that spawn more enemies if they are alive and are alerted to your presence. Most weapons have their own role, are personal preference, or are outright useless. There’s also another aspect being how much ammo you start with, which may lead you to pick a Pistol over say and AR. Another complaint I agree with and have seen is that a lot of the weapons feel weak or unreliable – which I do agree with; often you may shoot a guy, yet they don’t seem to die.
Another key aspect of the game are its enemies; they aren’t particularly powerful when on their own, but in groups, it’s a different story. I haven’t gotten quite far enough into the game to see a lot of the enemies, however, the ones I have encountered are great. The way they all disrupt player movement is my favorite aspect of them.
When I say disrupt, I mean that Sleepers (detect sound including footsteps) make you stop moving lest you want to be detected, the Scout has these tendrils that extended and force you to move, and you can’t sprint unless you want to wake all the enemies up and have a real shit show on your hands. There is also a giant which is basically the same as a lot of the sleepers, but does more damage and has more health. Most of the enemies do a fair bit of damage if they get near; in short, you’re not a tank and health packs are scarce. This really ups the anty in the game as you have to be as cautious as possible during the quiet segments and loud segments.
That brings me to the core gameplay loop, You’re primary objective. However, to get there, a bunch of “security doors” separate the different zones (there are generally 3-6 per level). To get past these doors, some of them have alarms, which spawn a new wave of enemies, and some just open. What makes it more interesting is that you made need a key to activate the door, which you have to search around for. These are what I like the call the loud and quiet segments of the game, the former are the waves and the latter is the searching. To aid your search you have another really cool gameplay element: the Terminal.
This is one of my favorite aspects of the game (I’m one of the terminal guys); the terminal allows players to search for certain objects using different commands (LIST, QUERY, PING) which allow you to find the zone, and exact section of an item (health packs, ammo packs, tool refills, keys, lockers, and boxes). This is a really useful tactical element of the game as it allows you to strategize more and, in my opinion, makes the game great.
A not so fun aspect are the aforementioned alarm doors, which forces you to exhaust whatever you have and makes a good lot of the game searching for materials to prepare for them. Furthermore, it forces you into gunplay, which as I have said numerous times before is outstandingly mediocre (bad even), which kind of feels like a kick in the balls for playing stealthily.
However, there is a bright side being that when you are searching for things, it’s still fun. It adds some decision making – should I go to the next room which I don’t have to go to just to get some supplies and health, or should I risk it with what I have? Despite this upside, I feel like the alarm doors really could’ve been implemented in a better way, or they could just be tweaked a bit to be a bit more fun instead of making be audibly groan when I see them.
One thing I do think needs to be fixed is how easy it is to alert the sleepers; the primary way of killing them is to sneak up, charge up a melee shot, and hit them in the head. This is great, I like it normally, however, the problem starts when you walk up to them, playing their bloody game of “red light green light” only for them to wake up and punch you in the face like an MMA fighter on Adderall, and then proceed to call their friends. The detection limit at close range needs to be higher so that it’s a bit more consistent. In fact, anytime you attempt to perform a stealth kill it should kill them – a wild idea I know.
ART and Level Design
I think one of the most interesting aspects that really sells GTFO is the atmosphere. The random clicks that the sleepers produce make for an eerie atmosphere. It helps that the game is mostly pitch black, and there no night vision of any sort. The closest thing you get are glow sticks, the holy glow as my friends and I call them, which provide little but crucial light to show you the horrors that await in the deep dark. The structures all seem very samey, I would’ve liked to see some more variation and landmarks; however, it does fit with the theme that this is some sort of mining facility. The level design is all pretty interesting as well, the layouts are different, I wish there was a bit more verticality because those were some of my favorite bits.
In the first rundown, there’s this pit and the lot of us kept arguing who should go down first because it was completely pitch black and we had run out of the glow sticks. One thing I do think could be improved is the placement of some of the alarm doors; I do understand that they’re there to add some challenge and make us waste our ammo and health.
However, in my opinion, you should be able to properly set up with cover and stuff as all too often it’s wide open, there’re 52 entrances one of which looks like thermite from Rainbow Six Siege made a “great big f-ing hole” in the wall that you can’t goo up using the c-foam launcher. This frustration is amplified by the fact that these alarm doors force you to use your guns, which as I have said numerous times before is outstandingly mediocre (bad even), which kind of feels like a kick in the balls for playing stealthily.
Another thing that could stand to be improved are the weapon models, they’re all very bland: pieces of metal with pokey bits on them. I wish they had a bit more individuality, I’m not talking overwatch levels, but something. Another issue is that some weapons have really ambiguous descriptions. The magnum, for example, has no reason to be used other than to role-play Dirty Harry, the DMR is just a shitty Sniper as well. The new charge up machine gun doesn’t even say it’s a charge up machine gun – which led to some issues when I wondered why it wasn’t firing.
Lastly, to talk about the Menu system. I think it’s pretty good, straight and to the point, only thing is that I wish you could unready yourself on the ready screen – something which you would expect, but surprisingly is not there.
Moving on to optimization, there isn’t much to say, the game runs pretty well and I had no issues with it. We didn’t have any issues with servers when we tried to play together either, overall it gets a thumbs up from me. One thing a friend did bring up is how people different countries tend to result in latency, however, that’s not too much of an issue, just worth mentioning.
In conclusion, GTFO is really fun, like it’s genuinely a really fun game; however, one of the core aspects of its gameplay – the gunplay – needs a lot of improvement. One thing which I think is really good about the game is that the horror aspect doesn’t really ever leave – even after you kind of get used to the enemies you still can enjoy it. The game really good benefits from a few touch-ups in the weapons department however, I think it’s overall aesthetic fits its theme relatively well. Overall, 10 Chambers Collective did a decent job so far (it’s early access) and I think it’ll make for a good time with your friends, though there are a lot of issues and bugs they need to iron out, however, what they do well, they do very well.
Not so Final Score: 7/10
Plays way too many games and should probably sleep more…