Preview: Horror Co-Op GTFO Is Atmospheric, Difficult

Screenshot: GTFO

It’s spooktober, and everyone’s doing the scary thing. I’ve been having a hard time getting into the spirit of the holiday—which is too bad, because Halloween has always been my favorite. What’s a better way to get your blood rushing and your heart pumping than terrifying video games? Most horror games are single player experiences—rarely have I seen a multiplayer game create tension and invoke fear. GTFO manages to be scary, and be a fun game to play with friends—and it’s still only in early access.

GTFO is a first person multiplayer survival horror game. You play as a group of four prisoners, forced to dive ever deeper into an abandoned, mysterious facility full of monsters. Your goals are often different in each mission, with objectives that usually require a little bit of exploration and stealth. You come equipped with guns and tools, but ammo is scarce—and the monsters you’ll run into are hard to kill. It’s best not to wake them if possible, but sometimes even the best stealthy plans are foiled by a misstep.  Communication and teamwork is key, and clever use of resources is the only way to complete objectives and make it out alive.

Screenshot: GTFO

Everything you need to survive in GTFO is scarce. You don’t even drop into the complex with full ammo—and you definitely don’t start with health kits or tool refills. The only thing that starts at 100 percent is your health. You have to check every shelf, chest and locker for items that you could use to survive, or complete the objectives. Even if you find a health or ammo refill, it only gives back 20 percent per hit—and often they only come with a couple of uses. It really takes item scarcity to a level I haven’t seen in co-op games, and careful conservation and coordination of items is the only way to succeed.

There isn’t really gear or character progression in GTFO yet. All of the items are unlocked for you from the start. You can load out your character before each drop with a variety of weapons and tools, but everyone starts with the same unlocks available. Some of these items are rundown specific—so there is a variety over time. But progression is based on how your team learns, and how well they can work together to overcome these challenges to complete the deepest levels of the rundown.

Screenshot: GTFO

Each run through GTFO will be different. While the levels aren’t randomized, the enemies and items inside will be in different locations each time you drop in. The levels aren’t always the same, though, as they’re rotated out in different updates called “rundowns.” This allows for different areas that are hand crafted by the devs, but you’re not forced to play the same few stages over and over again throughout the game’s life—with new stages being added regularly via updates, and the old stages being retired.

GTFO is atmospheric, and genuinely spooky—especially at first. We went into the experience completely blind, and learned as we played. But the more we learned, and the more familiar things got—the less scary it was. Still, the environments are incredible—atmospheric, and labyrinthine. I’m sure even experienced players still get a sense of dread at the unknown—and encounters never fail to be tense and exciting.

Screenshot: GTFO

The complex in GTFO is a mystery. It’s never said what happened, or why you’re even doing what you’re doing. You just wake up, wearing protective masks and gloves. The deeper you go, the more interesting it gets. Also, the more dangerous it gets. The complex is full of mutant creatures, and environmental hazards. Different tools can help mitigate some of the more deleterious effects, but most of the time the best way to deal with a problem is avoid it.

Stealth can be your best friend, but when the creatures wake up, you’ll need firepower. The weapons in GTFO feel good to shoot, but ammo scarcity means taking careful aim. Enemies themselves are hard to hit as they skitter, and zig zag. While most of the weapons can easily take off chunks from your enemies, that’s often not enough to stop these monstrosities. A good combination of C-Foam and turrets can take care of large groups, but even careful planning can make your ammo run down fast.

GTFO, surprisingly, is an Early Access game. It feels so polished, and fun, I can’t help but think of it as a completed product. The developer’s original plan was to have it in Early Access for a year, and that time is quickly approaching. According to their Steam store page, developer 10 Chambers plans on adding different challenges, enemies, environments, objectives, and gear progression. Progression would be a great incentive to keep playing, and I know it’s something that would keep my friends playing for longer. The developers are very active in the community, and GTFO has only been getting better. Infamously lacking a matchmaking system, that’s not a problem any longer as with their latest update, there is now matchmaking—though it’s still in its alpha state.

I wasn’t sure if my group was going to latch onto GTFO, but it ended up becoming a bit of an obsession. I’ve even been having GTFO dreams, waiting for my chance to drop in again—and die horribly to the pale, naked mutants that lick and shoot to death. The atmosphere is incredible, and even though I’m not sure the mystery of the underground complex will ever be fully revealed, it’s compelling enough on its own to provoke me to attempt to go deeper. It has fun, tense combat and some of the best atmosphere I’ve encountered in a video game. It’s so polished right now, it’s hard to think of it as an Early Access game. If you want a difficult co-op experience, look no further.

GTFO is available to play in Early Access now via Steam





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Antal Bokor
Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian.
He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.