Stuck Inside With: GTFO

GTFO is a survival horror first-person shooter game. 10 Chambers Collective

My friends and I have recently been trying to get past the first level in GTFO, which is described as a "hardcore four-player co-op stealth action game ... a first-person shooter with a survival horror twist."

Tack on all the adjectives you want, GTFO, you should really just say, "GTFO is like Left 4 Dead, but much harder." It's atmospheric and tense -- until it's not. Think of the movie "Alien" until you make the aliens mad, then it turns into "Aliens" (that is to say, you're stealthy until you make a bad move and the swarm descends upon you).

After about three hours trying to conquer the first level, my group of buddies and I walked away feeling beaten but surprisingly accomplished. We purposely didn't look up any guides for the game, so every time we were dropped into the first level, we learned a little bit more and got a little bit farther.

During our first game, we learned that coordinated head slams with our hammers is the way to go. In our second run, we learned slow and steady will always triumph and to not just go opening doors randomly lest we want the swarm in our faces. For our third game, we figured out the computer system and how to find the keycard. When it came time for the fourth game, we nearly made it out after making it to the end of the level -- and then the game said "RUN" and we had to make it back to our pods for extraction.

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For my group of friends, that's really part of the fun -- learning and improving every time we drop into the game. Something that helps, and one of the best elements of the game, is the rogue-like parts mixed in. The level does not change, but the items you find are randomized, as are the size and composition of the aliens you encounter. There could be four regular aliens in the second room during one run. There might be eight with a feeler alien (we called them "trees" because tentacle-like feelers sprout from their heads that trigger the swarm if you touch them) on your next run.

Speaking of the aliens, they are weird-looking, almost to the point of fascination. Their big heads pulse and glow to try to throw you off your game, and getting used to their sounds and cadence was crucial to success. One of my friends called it a game of "red light, green light," which was very apropos.

Managing your limited resources adds another layer of decision-making. We know we need to fight while this door is hacked, so what's the minimum amount of mines we can lay so we have some for later? Where do we make our stand? Who brought the turret? Who brought the foam to reinforce the door? Who needs ammo more, and who needs health? How you tackle each run (and the equipment you take with you) will directly impact the next room and the decisions you make.

All of that means even though we never made it past the first level, every round was wildly different and fun.

GTFO does not hold your hand. It does not care about you, only that you complete the mission. At some point, we'll beat the first mission, celebrate, and then start all over with the next mission.

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