Ape Out Was Nearly About a Bald Man While Pharoh Sanders Helped Define the Aesthetic

"There's a simulated drummer pulling from thousands of drum patterns"

Devolver Digital announced Ape Out in 2017, a game where you play as an angry gorilla trying to escape captivity by spiraling through numerous levels with increasingly difficult enemies. It’s a ride and a half, and you can find out why I enjoyed it so much in my review. In a recent interview with, developer Gabe Cuzzillo explains a little bit about the evolution of the game.

Originally, Ape Out started off as a bald man escaping by using stealth and all with time-travel involved in some way. Cuzzillo says, “you were going to be on walls all the time” but felt that “it was weird” that a bald man was grabbing enemies and smashing them into walls. This, of course, led to toying with the idea of having a gorilla escaping captivity.

Eventually, Cuzzillo became “super obsessed” with the song, “You’ve Got To Have Freedom” by Pharoh Sanders which he listened to on loop while working on the game. The song is featured at the end of Ape Out. 

Working with the song playing, he says, “That started to permeate the feeling of the game and the aesthetic I was shooting for,” with him trying to communicate that feeling through the game, he adds, “The identity of the game and everything else just kind of spun out from those original creative decisions and just trying to capture the vibe of the song.”

Throughout Ape Out, actions result in drum sound effects that tie the action together in a remarkable way. However, Cuzzillo says that the cymbal crash sound effect that rings out when an enemy is killed was one of the first sound effects added to the game.

Matt Boch then came in and toyed with this, which Cuzzillo explains, “Matt then did an incredible, insane version of that [reactive cymbal clash idea] where there’s a simulated drummer pulling from thousands of drum patterns and thousands of samples of real drums being played and reacting in a way I didn’t really think was possible and don’t think has been done before,”

Ape Out is available for PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

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Ben Bayliss

Based in the UK and adores venturing through FPS horrors and taking photos in pretty much anything with a functioning photo mode. Also likes car games.

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