GTFO 1.0 Maybe Too Much of a Good Thing

Developed and Published by 10 Chambers

Available on PC

MSRP: $39.99

Early Access players and footage of GTFO gave us an intense lineup of dungeons crawling in and out of different maps. The tilesets weren’t really much to look at being more of the same secret dilapidated lab full of worm people. Well, the good news is that a surprise launch on December 9, 2021, at The Game Awards announces GTFO 1.0. This update brings new maps and new changing environments that reveal the source of the alien worms that the condemned task force faces.

A lot of the thrill of this game is the mystery, fans of Resident Evil or SCP Containment Breach might find themselves at home slowly walking through the thick contaminated fog while rationing any scavenged supplies against mutated humans. GTFO is not Primarily an action game, it is much better described as survival horror. If you’ve played MMOs or RPG games you might be familiar with the experience of wandering into somewhere you aren’t supposed to be and being smeared by the heel of a monster several dozen levels above you, sometimes you can turn the zone into a stealth mission and see how much high-level items you can loot without catching their fists for a nice early game boost. GTFO quite effectively captures the delight in that experience with methodical scavenging for resources and the heavy cost of combat encounters. With the addition of a story, environments, and events in the depths of each mission, every discovery is ungodly and feels heretical to the touch.

Looter shooters have a cyclical nature to them, that being missions are run and farming loot is a game of strategy against probability. This is not the impression I got from GTFO, if looters are alchemy this feels much more like science. Monster encounters are lethal or exhausting of resources that take time to restock provided you can carefully carve through the sleeping residents undetected. It’s possible to simply grab what you uncover on your way to the objective or one could use a system console and through command lines see a list of occupied containers. Regardless any scarcities are well felt especially when they are missing in combat.

The terminals and overall UI design really emphasize the narrative with prisoners sent in to salvage what remains of strange excavations and human experiments. Just booting the game displays low-level console outputs, it’s not intuitive to use but it’s intentional. The prisoners we play as in GTFO are expendable, significant enough to arm but never given any more info than is strictly necessary for the current objective. The maze of accurately labeled zones provides players an opportunity to break from commanding orders and find out what happened here.

The map selection may feel limited but the secondary maps and bonus goals have their own unique flavor. As hazards escalate the cost of the mission start to seep into awareness. If a key is sunk in a toxic bath of vapors the team will need to place fog repellers to breadcrumb a path and within their lifespan. Depending on who you play with this could be a surgical extraction or it might be a nightmare leaving the entire team at less than a quarter health with another half hour of the dungeon to fight through. There is however the solution implemented in radiation disasters, send one person in, a skeleton crew to secure the objective. Whether or not they come back irradiated won’t compromise the team.

This is very much a programmer’s game with a persistent exchange of resources against ever-changing problems. There is little room for brute force, each decision needs to be surgically calculated and their cost must be budgeted. Many rooms have opportunities for players to get smart with the game mechanics and being able to worm in between deadly hazards is often rewarded with much-needed equipment.

Despite the demanding gameplay GTFO maintains difficulty without being frustratingly complex or cryptic like high-performance games can become. Using the terminals and understanding some of the coding terms is the most disarming it can get however it works well with the oblivious brain hacked prisoner concept and there’s enough information for the player to intuit or piece together the next step forward.

When the game flows it feels really great to play. Successfully planning and executing a room clear or sneaking to the next area is incredibly satisfying, many of the finales to the mission feel actually impossible so when the team survives players can feel exceptional.

Having reached the end of the main missions I think this formula starts to drift from what normal players may tolerate. Experienced players may be able to finish a mission well under 2 hours but even with an organized team with voice chat working through D1 the first time took over 5 hours. There is currently no way to break up this mission despite the checkpoints, the checkpoints only serve to give players additional attempts from the same match.

The problem here is the length a single session takes especially for new players, the difficulty of the game is what completes the experience but there are better ways to pace the experience that doesn’t require unhealthy amounts of unbroken screentime. Of all the problems with the launch version of Back 4 Blood, the difficulty allowed players to get a nice dose of intense combat and break it into reasonable exit points. Players had limited lives and fail chances but they also could stop at any checkpoint and resume their progress at a later time. All the stats and player states persisted so this doesn’t have any effect on the game’s difficulty. With GTFO you must commit to hours at a time to learn a mission and that’s amidst players dropping out because they simply can’t spend the entire day on a video game or have badly damaged their sleep schedule.

While the overall experience of GTFO is unique and has plenty of gems in game design it still needs some accessibility features for the health of the players. Regardless I am sure it will be wildly enjoyed by the player following it’s able to attract. You can try your hand at GTFO 1.0 on steam and hit up their official discord for guides and finding dedicated teammates.

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