To prelude this review, I wanted to quickly add that this game is still in the preview phase. Just like Subnautica, Ark: Survival Evolved, Astroneer and Gigantic, Pit People is currently available on the Xbox Marketplace in an working progress state. The developers are continually adding improvements and fixes to the game, so the final product may differ slightly from it’s current state. We’re reviewing the game based on it’s March 2017 build.
From the brilliant minds that brought us Alien Hominid HD, Castle Crashers and more recently BattleBlock Theatre, comes Pit People. Developers, The Behemoth enter a world of strategic, turn-based gameplay in this crazy story of vengeance and gigantic, evil, 6-armed space bears.
From the off, the narrator, voiced by the fantastic Stamper (also of BattleBlock Theatre and many YouTube ventures) had me hooked. The traditional humour, found in any Behemoth title is of course there, aided by Stamper’s delivery. It instantly sucks you in, failing to stop being anything other than hilarious at any point.
Gameplay is made up of three main components; the navigation, the squad building and the combat. Movement across the landscape is made by navigating a sprite of a wagon to a series of mission-related waypoints, with additional side-missions found along the way, awarding more loot. Players can opt to battle groups of enemies by simply engaging the sprites found scattered throughout the world. Once engaged in combat, the game turns to a turn-based and heavily strategic battle. You’ll have to move your group to various positions across the battlefield to best utilise their skill set and ultimately beat the opposition.
The combat isn’t entirely about having strength in numbers, but best in finding skill sets that complement one another. You’ll be able to recruit other beasts found around the landscape once all other enemies on the opposing team have been defeated. Once recruited, you can add these beasts to your squad, provided you have unlocked the space in your party. Healers, tanks, archers and many other classes will be able to be recruited to the team, giving you the freedom to have a completely different party each time you set out from the “home” castle. This comes alongside the ability to change your party’s equipment by finding various items of loot after completing missions.
As a whole, it takes a little time to pick up these three fundamental parts of the game, but once sussed, it’s an absolute treat, knowing of course your squad is made up entirely of your own design and that the world is at your peril.
The visuals stick to BattleBlock Theatre‘s unique cartoon style, with a mixture of bizarre and other-worldly creatures and creations added to the mix. Humanoids are not the only enemies you’ll encounter, but wraiths, pixies and the more elaborate hair trolls and spidaurs, a cross between a spider and centaur. Yep… pretty, bizarre. It’s quite clear that Pit People doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Multiplayer isn’t a miss in this title as the game urges you to compete in “The Pit”, an arena-based mode, found in your home city. The Pit places your party in one of two modes, either PvP, facing off against another player’s selection of fighters, or wave based PvE in which gold and other various items of loot are awarded. There’s also a leaderboard for the best scores made in The Pit so you’ll know how well you’ve done against your friends. It doesn’t differ much from the standard type of gameplay and is best done once you’ve exhausted all story missions. Co-op play is also and adds an additional level of strategic play, as you’ll be playing alongside your buddy’s party.
An issue was with the squad building interface. Locating the area of the city where your squad and items are managed isn’t an issue, but once in, it’s a chaotic shuffle between character selection, which weapons they’re carrying and which armour they wear. The less time spent in here, the better, but sadly it’s a pretty important part of the game. I’d like to see if Behemoth could iron out these creases before releasing the game as a finished product. Other than that small, nagging issue, the game is well made and in my eyes, once the devs add a few more story missions, the game is as good as done.
To summarise, Pit People is fantastically well-made, even at this point in it’s “working progress” state. It’s absurdly funny, quirky and a treat to look at. The loot and squad building, although a little difficult to navigate, drives for players to keep coming back time and time again and the combat system, although a little tricky for newcomers to pick up, once sussed is a challenging yet extremely rewarding experience. I’d absolutely recommend this game to anyone, especially fans of Behemoth’s previous work or those looking for something other than the norm.