Pit People is the newest title from The Behemoth following on from their success with the brilliant Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theatre. I absolutely loved Castle Crashers with its understated progression system and RPG mechanics. Pit People feels like the next logical step for the developer and, whereas Castle Crashers veiled its complexity, Pit People showcases just how talented The Behemoth are. Pit People maintains the progression of standard RPG’s but instead of simpler combat seen in their previous outings, Pit People is a deep, turn-based strategy game without losing any of the charms the developers are famed for.
Pit People is currently available on Steam and Xbox One as part of their respective early access programs. The Behemoth are consistently updating the game, adding more content at an impressive rate which adds to the already vast amount of content available. As is the case with other preview titles, you can invest a small sum of money and deliver feedback to the developers as they mold their creation. Once the game is finally complete, you receive it without paying a penny more. Having played over 15 hours of Pit People so far, I feel it is a very wise investment.
Pit People fundamentally is a turn based strategy game but much like others in the genre, they are bound to certain laws and allowed free reign in others. Titles such as X-COM and the Fire Emblem series, although at their cores are similar, soon become very different games. Pit People obeys the rules of a sectioned battlefield which players must navigate tactically to gain an advantage against the enemy. Different classes can use this stipulation to their benefit. An archer is able to attack from range but is granted a lower chance of success whereas a warrior can hit more frequently yet must be next to the opposition to do so.
The individual ideas that Pit People brings to the genre are mostly great with a few frustrating ones. One particular mechanic that can be frustrating is the inability to choose your target. If you place one of your team in a situation where two enemies could be attacked, the game will automatically choose an opponent for you, often selecting the wrong one. However many clever innovations are introduced such as the opposition being forced to attack their nearest foe. This allows your tank you lead the charge and absorb the onslaught of attacks. The pacing of Pit People is refreshing too with the encounter system feeling closer to that of a typical RPG. Battles initiate from traversing the world map and confrontations can be finished within a couple of minutes. The unique inclusion to the model is the underrated cooperative multiplayer. Playing locally, you and a partner can create separate teams essentially doubling the overall squad size. Battles become much more frantic and complex as each player organizes their squad. The genre can be daunting to many and this feature allows an experienced player to ease the fears of someone new to the series. If you would rather compete against others, that functionality is available via the arena in the central hub.
How you create your team is an exciting task in itself. Enemies can be captured on the battlefield and recruited into your squad, bringing their unique abilities with them. Certain characters gathered can force enemies to attack their own allies whereas stranger enemies have even stranger powers. Even classic classes such as the healer are less than traditional. Gluten The Cupcake is, as his name may suggest, a delicious dessert. As he heals his squad-mates, he’ll fling his frosting from his own body over them while losing HP in the process. The recruitment system within Pit People had me observing enemy attacks and assessing how that individual would benefit my team. After spending enough currency to expand my roster, I ended up with a strangely diverse yet efficient team. In multiplayer, your squad only becomes larger and even more varied.
Traditionally, tactical turn based games are rather uninventive with their design choices but Pit People would not be a Behemoth title if that was the case. The battlefield is loud and vibrant with a range of terrains to fight upon. Do not be shocked to find yourself locked in battle within a city of toilets. The world and characters, such as my healer Gluten, are not bound by any lore as there is none. Giraffes will fly into the battle suspended by balloons whereas enemies will douse you with bullets via an Uzi. At one point my opposition was attempting to flee from battle in a drop top convertible when a ship laden with treasure came crashing onto land; blowing the car and passengers to pieces.
Although this flamboyant and mesmerizing world can keep you surprised and captivated, it can interfere with the essential mechanics of battle. I would often select the wrong party member or enemy due to the cumbersome controls. Having a large squad makes plotting their tactics rather tricky as the floor becomes littered with trajectory arrows, attack commands, and hazardous obstacles. I would accidentally send wrong characters to areas intended for others time and time again due to the confusing indicators. Although the encounters are a spectacle for the eye they can occasionally be a pain.
Pit People is not simply a combat game however and is crammed with loot, humor, and adventure. The game begins with a brilliantly unconventional tutorial as our hero defends his family cabin from an onslaught of raiders. The narrator, who also plays the role of a petulant god, relays the story but also hilariously manipulates it for his pleasure. However, he is not always as omniscient as he would seem as events often unfold in unpredictable ways. According to the overseer, our hero is doomed however the tutorial allows us to defy the narration and win the battle. In retaliation, our compère flattens the cabin with a gigantic cat paw-like a spiteful child and our journey begins. The narrator remains throughout the entire journey and is a much-needed translator between our world and the crazy land of Pit People.
Upon reaching the nearest town, freedom is bestowed upon you. As mentioned previously you can recruit team members and each of these have dozens of cosmetic options, all offering stat boosts, and other abilities. Weapons and armor can be equipped as purchased goods or from loot collected after each encounter. Once victorious on the battlefield, you will be graded on a star system and as you perform better, you are granted with additional items. The combination of gathering items and experience which boosts character stats, make the rewards an added bonus to the already fun combat system.
When outside of combat, you have the freedom to explore the world map and accept side quests. This is where the artistic vision of Pit People becomes abundantly clear. Missions themselves are wacky, taking you to areas such as the aforementioned bathroom inspired location, Tinkletown. The town is riddled with humorous puns and resembles the city of Rome with century old stone monoliths, only they are toilets. The world map, which you roam courtesy of a wagon will have you crossing swamps and volcanoes whilst firing rockets at enemies you do not wish to fight. Once you have leveled up significantly, the ever watching narrator will grab you and drop you into a more challenging world. This creative ingenuity stems to the music too which, from the main menu, had me feeling exuberant before I had even begun my adventure. The score throughout Pit People remains equally stimulating with techno samba numbers and interesting adaptations of typical fantasy RPG overtures.
I was extremely excited for Pit People as I love the genre and adore the previous work by The Behemoth. I am certainly not disappointed and although it must have been tough, the developers have brought their allure to a style of gaming which sometimes puts that second. There are a few technical issues but hopefully, as part of the preview program, they can be altered. I am very much looking forward to reviewing the final game when it arrives in the future.