Monster Mania: The Punishing World of GTFO

Monster Mania is a weekly column celebrating the unique and varied monster designs in horror gaming.

It’s understandable why more people aren’t talking about GTFO from developer 10 Chambers. GTFO delivers a grueling tactician’s worst nightmare in the best way possible, which, in layman’s terms, means it is punishing as hell. GTFO’s premise is simple: A group of prisoners are woken from cryo-sleep by a mysterious warden, who plunges a squad of four into the dark depths of an underground facility. The prisoners must secure rare artifacts and supplies, with living to fight another day being their reward. This is easier said than done, as hordes of slumbering monsters within the facility must be avoided or silently killed on their way to the extraction zone. What differentiates GTFO and its brand of baddies from countless other squad-based games is that teamwork isn’t just emphasized; it is essential to lasting more than a handful of minutes.

In an era where multiplayer shooters feel more inclusive than ever, GTFO firmly draws a bloody line in the sand, as this is not an experience to be taken lightly. Given the game’s plentiful arsenal and slick gadgetry, newcomers might think gun fights are a focal point, but this approach would be misguided. As most of the complex’s various toothy denizens are dormant, stealth is the key to delaying the inevitability of “going loud.” Players will primarily rely on melee weapons, such as a devastating sledgehammer, an extra large kebob skewer, or other blades for silent takedowns (and to preserve supplies). The pin-drop silence required when approaching dormant monsters with your trusty melee weapon cocked at the ready, time and time again, makes for tense encounters within each new area of the facility. 

The number of times my squad had a perfectly laid plan to synch our melee strikes in unison on a big sleeper, only for a random squadmate to flub their strike and alert the creep, has resulted in numerous pant-shitting moments that greatly outweigh my wins. But painful lessons learned are the crux of the GTFO experience, which makes rare victories all the more memorable. 

Unlike other squad-based horror first-person shooters, firearms are more of a tool than a guaranteed equalizer in combat. While in other horror multiplayer shooters, you may chew through hordes of the undead, in GTFO, a squad is only as effective as the teammate standing next to you. Should you lose a teammate and, by extension, their damage output, the player will instantly feel those ramifications as a horde pushes that much closer to their location. This facet of combat isn’t possible without attention given to each of the complex’s monsters having a designated role in combat. And, making matters worse, no one monster feels like traditional fodder. 

Perceiving any enemy as ‘basic’ can be a death sentence for a squad. For example, strikers and shooters are both low-damage-outputting enemies, but their role can spell disaster even for intermediate players. Striker’s low-to-ground physics and sheer numbers are used to overwhelm and box in entire squads or teammates who foolishly became separated. Likewise, shooters may only have a low-damage ranged attack, but their projectiles have a hornet-like homing capability that locks onto the player, continually damaging them even as they flee.

And then there is everyone’s favorite tendril flexer, the scout. A creeper who patrols areas, pausing momentarily to extend its many tentacles in hopes of rubbing up against its next victim. Making this particularly nasty bastard even more of a headache is its lack of dormancy and the ability to summon a wave of monsters to the player’s location upon discovering its target. In typical fashion, there are heavy-hitting tiers of enemies such as the giant, a melee-centric bullet sponge that not only deals catastrophic amounts of damage but also is a series resource drain on squads. Also, giants notably feature Resident Evil 4’s Regenerator-like ability to still be a threat even after having its limbs destroyed.  

Ultimately, what makes each of these monsters a vital cog in the GTFO machine (a machine whose sole purpose is to try and ruin your day) is their ability to play off one another’s strengths. It can be as simple as a screech from a fellow creeper that triggers a nearby horde, a loving rub of a scout’s tendril against your leg, or a giant wrecking your shit that can and will derail even the best of strategies. How each of these creepers operates makes monsters in GTFO feel like a well-oiled murder machine that makes for a fittingly parallel to how players must also work together unless they wish to die in the dark together.

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