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Hands on preview: GTFO Early Access Beta

Published: 00:56, 10 December 2019
10 Chambers Collective
One of the many foreboding environments in GTFO
This is the kind of place where a horror movie character would say "Let's split up!"

GTFO made a striking impression following its reveal at the 2017 Game Awards, oozing potential at every turn with a dour visual design and challenging mechanics. We went hands on with the beta for the Early Access version of the game

It's almost unavoidable at this point to not draw comparisons with World War Z or Left 4 Dead, given the four player co-operative gameplay that is a defining tenant of this intriguing title. However, such parallels begin and end there, since GTFO is a much more uncompromising, serious take on the "small team versus the horde" concept. It's a brutal experience that requires actual communication with your assembled squad, and will punish you for even the slightest misstep. Ammo is a rarity, and more often than not, you'll find yourself backed into a corner.

The procedural elements extend beyond the regularly refreshed set of levels, each containing new objectives and different scenarios. Enemy placement is never the same from one run to the next, and every time you jump back in there's a pervasive unease that quickly evolves into a panicked hip firing disaster. At its core, this is a stealth action game; you're encouraged to avoid an open firefight wherever possible, and instead embrace a more tactical approach.

Enemies will detect you with even the slightest disturbance to their pseudo hibernation, and you're even forced to time your movements between their pulsating heartbeats in order to avoid a fight. It's a neat visual cue that gives feedback as you approach, but we found that we'd sometimes be detected even when not moving or shining a flashlight in their direction. It led to a couple of frustrating instances where our actions didn't correlate with being seen, so there's clearly still bugs to be squashed and work to be done to tighten this up.

10 Chambers Collective Fending off an attack in GTFO. Ammo is in short supply. Pick your targets, but prepare to be overwhelmed.

One thing that developer 10 Chambers Collective have absolutely nailed is the visual design. GTFO is a stunning game, with an oppressive atmosphere and genuinely unsettling visuals. Background audio also deserves a mention, with ambient Last of Us style "Clicker" sounds that totally sell the threat that the creatures present. Given that this is being made by a relatively small team, the scale of their ambition here is quite a sight to behold, and they should be commended for delivering such a graphically polished early access release. 

GTFO isn't for the faint of heart, and despite responsive controls and a relatively straightforward premise, you should prepare yourself for a considerable challenge. Open matchmaking wasn't available in the beta of the Early Access build, and with no other friends nearby, our entire hands on time with the game was limited to solo play. Despite our valiant efforts, death became a regular occurrence, so it's fair to say that while it is possible to go it alone, you shouldn't expect to get very far.

It all comes together to create a relentlessly tough survival shooter that, although lacking in some key multiplayer features in its current Early Access state, makes for a bold, attention grabbing start point that deserves to find success.

10 Chambers Collective An angry group of enemies in GTFO Don't enrage the horde. Seriously. Death will find you.

GTFO is available now, in Early Access on PC.

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