Animals are the residents of the world, having claimed their stake to the land centuries before humans ever did. But now, humans have placed themselves at the top of the food chain, processing huge quantities of animals for food while others hunt them for sport. Just based on those two facts, the animal kingdom would be completely justified in taking revenge on humanity in whatever manner they see fit. That’s the premise of Animalistic created by Keaton Applebaum and put into Early Access. As a human in an animal’s world, you’re challenged to be the alpha and claim a spot at the top of the animal kingdom.
The Animal Plan
As is common in old school FPS games, there was little attention given to the story. You’re just a guy with guns shooting at everything since it’s trying to kill you. The story of Animalistic is in a very similar vein. In its world, animals have evolved to be on par with humans and have taken control of society as you know it. They’ve also resulted in hunting down every human for revenge and sport, with you being possibly the last human alive. With that in mind, you decide to break out and fight back using whatever weapons you can get your hands on as animals of all kinds try to hunt you down. If you’re going to go out, why not go out with a bang?
When someone has an alluring nature, they’re sometimes said to have animal magnetism. Though Animalistic is a game, it has some elements that draw to its gameplay. The first and main one is its pacing. This game is a lot like classic FPS games in that it doesn’t waste time getting to the action. From the title screen, you get a simple level select and as soon as you pick where to go, you’re thrown right in. No context or buildup, just an environment, open paths, and weapons littered about to pick up.
The overall aesthetic of the game adds to the chaos as well. The animals are somewhat humanoid but are more akin to giant mascots. This of course makes for bigger and less canny targets to improve enjoyment. Enemies will come at you the moment you enter their area of detection which leads to some very hectic onslaughts. Whether you’re fighting with guns or with your fists, it feels very satisfying to hit a huge mascot-looking enemy in the face and send them flying across the room.
There are many animals whose primary defensive and offensive mechanism is to use something that repels potential enemies. Though likely unintentional, Animalistic has a few repellent qualities. The first is the gameplay itself. Whether the sensitivity is high or low, you’ll find yourself swinging around every which way while animals continue to fire more accurately at you. It’ll take some time to get familiar with the loose controls and movements which will likely result in some frustrating deaths.
It doesn’t help that your character feels pretty frail. To give some context, two hits with a melee weapon is all it takes to kill you which sends you all the way back to the beginning. Though the levels are pretty short and sort of made to be completed quickly, the game doesn’t always accommodate. There are many tight corners that if you try to run through, you’ll have to deal with groups of enemies piling onto you with a variety of weapons. It also takes a while to recover health, so expect to wait after getting through particularly bloody encounters.
Then there’s the options you have in battle. There are numerous guns to use, but there’s also a lot of emphasis on using your fists. Since punches can take out most enemies in one hit, it’s very tempting to use them. Even the Animalistic mechanic revolves around punching everything in sight. Unfortunately, punches have to be just as accurate as shots in order to be useful. It’s also disappointing that the enemies can use melee weapons but you can’t.
Animalistic is an FPS game pitting the last human against every mutant animal on Earth. It has fast-paced and satisfying gameplay that gets right to the action, making it perfect for quick sessions of gaming. The problem is that the movement and aiming mechanics are a bit slippery, it’s very easy to die, and there should be more melee options considering how much punching you’ll want to do. Despite that, if you’re looking to let loose for a bit, you may as well go animalistic.
This review is based on a download code provided by the developer. Animalistic is available to purchase in Early Access via Steam.
Will Quick is a freelance media wizard living in Spain. When he's not gaming or writing, he's doodling comics or whatever else pops in his head.