Down in the dark, GTFO delivers horror without the cliché of the genre.
Swooping in at the last moment of 2019, 10 Chambers Collective has delivered the surprise title “GTFO.” A small and independent team made up of 8 industry veterans has rallied together to develop the nyctophobic bane everywhere.
Not to fear, though, if you are a little scared of the dark, GTFO is explicitly multiplayer, so your friends will be coming along while you probe the bowels of a long overrun underground complex.
As a team-based first-person-shooter, GTFO moves away from traditional survival-horror game mechanics instead creates an oppressive atmosphere of tension.
Jump-scares are not part of the core experience. Things certainly can frighten you, but if you find them off-putting, this might be the survival-horror title for you.
Story & concept
Story? Good question. Awoken from cryo-sleep, you are put to work by the mysterious and faceless Warden. Any hints the Warden provides comes in the form of recordings, presumably of the teams that have failed before you. Snippets of the information left behind by the dead and a singular objective are all the Warden is willing to give you.
Dropped from an obscene height, you and your team fall deep into an inky black chasm attached to one of the Warden’s mechanical arms. Since your only path back to the surface is that same arm of the Warden’s, you have no choice but to make your way through its set objective.
Lost upon you and your team, the history of the underground complex is unknown. However, the pieces of the Warden’s plan can be reconciled into an overall strategy, giving hints to understanding the Warden’s motivation.
The primary antagonist is the horde of once-human creatures that infest the complex. Sleeping, searching, growing, and transforming into something beyond comprehension, your opposition is… sleepy, and it’s in your best interest to not wake it up.
The visuals of GTFO are masterful in establishing the unsettling environment. Neither visually overbearing nor system-intensive, the developers managed to create a vibrant environment through the inventive use of robust lighting and volumetric-fog tools.
Tight corridors and high walls keep the game-world feeling claustrophobic and tense, all the while permitting a verticality level, which adds to the sense of moving downwards through an industrial complex.
GTFO’s level design is dependent on lights and shadows; to this end, the lighting is bespoke to each room. You may find yourself making your way through a place you have seen before, but the changing arrangement in lights alone makes traversing the room an entirely new experience.
The hostile creatures found napping about the place is horrifying enough in their grotesque repose, awakening them into even more disturbing monstrosities. The creatures are zombie-alien hybrids in nature. Recognizable as something human at some point, they are now a visually diverse bunch of monsters.
Sound & atmosphere
The sound design in GTFO matches the masterful use of lighting. As the level design depends heavily on the lack of light, the sound fills the space to deliver information.
Since a lit torch will wake the sleepers, you must turn off lights before opening any door. The snoozy clicks of sleeping beasties ring out through the doorway, and you have an idea of what’s ahead.
Each type of creature has a distinct call in both their sleeping and waking state. This unique sound gives players a good idea of what’s in the room despite being visually obscured, all the while giving you a heads-up for what’s on the way once combat begins.
While mainly highlighted during combat sequences, a minimal amount of focus applies to the overall soundtrack. This fact is essential to preserving the players’ capacity to hear and driving the tension when a combat encounter is triggered.
While the game is a first-person-shooter, stealth is the primary tactic of GTFO. The Warden was feeling a bit stingy when he dropped you in the pit. As such, you often begin stages without full ammunition, health, or fully equipped tools.
The most successful tactic we found was to sneak between the sleepers, only clearing essential rooms. Eventually, the rooms require the players to trigger an alarm to open the next door. In this event, all sleepers in the room awaken immediately, and a small horde will come rushing from further behind in the complex.
When combat is no longer avoidable or when somebody accidentally bumps into a sleeper, the game’s FPS elements come into full-swing.
The monsters, divided into ranged shooters and melee units, will swing whatever disgusting appendage they have available at you. The transformations come in a variety of sizes, with most having a small and large version.
Certain types are to be considered a critical threat. Unlike their sleepy comrades, Seekers will walk around. The poor fellows are blind, but that won’t stop them from opening their disgusting heads from time to time and reaching around the surfaces of the room with some incredibly disturbing tentacles.
If those tentacles touch any out-of-place organic matter, the Seeker will shriek, waking up everything in the room, every adjoining room, and calling a horde from deep within the complex. Most enemy types will give a weaker scream if disturbed, but the Seeker guarantees a dreadful time for all when disturbed.
Learning the array of enemies and having a priority takedown list helps limit the size of fights. If you don’t want to waste your precious ammo, have a sniper take out Seekers before they get a chance to shout.
Given the variety of enemies, planning out a combat encounter or establishing fallback positions is essential to winning combat scenarios. Draw the horde into chokepoints to make the best use of your limited ammunition. When all else fails, run! Fall back to a new choke or drag the swarm through prepared traps.
Each player has a choice of one tool to bring with them into the pit. Auto-turrets or shotgun traps combine well with a cryo-freeze spray, which freezes the creatures in place. A handheld radar, for one, permits a certain degree of planning before doors open. But you won’t know what you face until you are deep into the room. Coordination is key.
Players will likely play each of the available stages more than once. We certainly did. Each stage, divided into depths, has an introductory level on A1 that teaches you the basics, then B1 and B2 put those basics to work. As you progress deeper down to C and D levels, new challenges, objectives, and enemy types begin to appear.
The rundown of stages is currently static, but 10 Chamber Collective plans to refresh the rundown every few months with new settings. Each unique rundown will wipe the previous one. Some months there will be shorter stages, but more will be available. Other times there will be fewer but much more prolonged and intense phases.
With an element of post-generation tailoring, a combination of procedural generation is an inventive take for the game’s replayability. Hopefully, bringing back players every few months to try out the new depths.
In case the praise for GTFO hasn’t been sung loud enough, it is genuinely an avant-garde take on the survival horror genre. Horror without jump-scare, raw tension drives the players not to make mistakes.
Atmospheric and oppressive, GTFO’s world is addictive and rewarding to the players that succeed in plumbing the depths. Alongside the excellent gameplay is a subtle and compelling story that drives you to want to travel deeper. To see what it is that sleeps deep beneath the world.
If you’re looking for some tips and tricks to get started, be sure to check out our extensive GTFO Beginner’s Guide.