By Henry Badilla / April 6th, 2018
|Release Date||March 2nd, 2018|
|Platform||PC, Xbox One|
Pit People is the story of a single father named Horatio, who has to overcome several challenges to save his child. That sounds like the most common and overused trope in the history of storytelling. Except that this game is made by The Behemoth, so Horatio has to save his kid from a giant teddy bear in space, his best friend is a demi-cyclops, and is being constantly harassed by a magician named Jerkimedes who, as you can guess, is quite a jerk. And all this happens in a world filled with talking cupcakes, cyclops, spidertaurs and all kinds of strange beasts. It doesn’t sound so boring now, does it?
While the whole purpose of the story is to rescue Horatio’s child, there’s a lot more story and narrative than that. The main story is filled with unique scenarios and weird jokes which go quite well with the overall style of randomness that surrounds Pit People. But there are also over 100 optional quests which all have their own unique narrative. Some are divided into several quests, and others are simple battles or fetch quests that you can find randomly on the world map, but each one of them will at least get a chuckle out of you.
In regards to gameplay, this is a turn-based strategy game, in which you control up to 6 units and have to take turns defeating your opponents. However The Behemoth added several twists to the formula to make it their own unique game. The first and most notorious one is that in Pit People you cannot target which enemy you want to attack. Instead you select to which hexagonal space your units will move, and if there is an enemy in range they will attack it. However if there are several possible targets your units will attack whoever they feel like, which can blow your whole strategy. I personally am not a fan of this mechanic, but you can force your units to make the right decision by surrounding a single enemy with your units, but this can be impossible sometimes so you have to leave it to luck.
You can arm your units with close-quarter weapons like swords and maces, or bows if you prefer to fight from a distance. That however is the most boring way to play Pit People since there are more unique units that you can use. For example, instead of a healer to recover your units, you have to use cupcake people that will heal you at the cost of their health. You can also recruit unicorns that attack with horn-missiles from the distance, zombies that resurrect themselves, and a giant troll head that spawns smaller trolls each turn.
The way that you recruit units is by buying a cage in town, go into a fight and then you can capture the last enemy alive. This creates interesting scenarios where you have to avoid the character that you want to recruit during combat, which could be their best unit and the one giving you the most trouble. Once recruited you can add them to your party from town, but not all units have the same size, so while you can have 6 units, bigger units like the cyclops need two spaces in your party, and smaller units like the zombies and kobolds are actually two units in a single space.
Additionally, the maps usually have environmental traps that can damage any unit that passes through them, and each of the story missions will have a unique twist to combat. One mission has you sneaking with a character into a bank, turning this level into a stealth game. Other quests ask you to destroy furniture to infuriate an enemy or use cannons to destroy an enemy ship. In general no quest feels boring or repetitive since there’s always something new that you have to be aware of.
While there’s a single town where you can change equipment and organize your units, the game is filled with content. For starters there are over 1000 unique items that can be equipped to your units. And this is not just armor and weapons, but cosmetic items that will give a unique look to your character. Think more of a rainbow afro wig and double sunglasses than an actual helmet. There are also many different units, which you can recruit, and these also come with their own unique equipment, so no unit will look the same in combat.
As a nice addition the game can be played with a friend both locally and online, and there’s a vs mode for up to four people. There are daily missions which consist of killing certain types of enemies or dealing a certain amount of damage with some element that will provide additional loot and a reason to keep coming back. Finally there’s The Pit, in which you can fight 3 consecutive battles alone or with a friend against the AI for money and glory.
Graphically speaking Pit People follows the same style that has been characteristic of The Behemoth’s previous games. With funny hand-drawn characters with simple faces and goofy expressions this game is not particularly impressive. But the art is unique enough to be recognized and goes quite well with the craziness of the game. The audio is top-notch, with very vibrant and catchy tunes that range from electronic music to more traditional sounds. And of course let’s not forget Will Stamper, the narrator from BattleBlock Theater and antagonist of Pit People, who does an amazing job in bringing his character to life, and making constant snarky remarks to the player through the game.
While the main story took me 8 hours to complete, finishing all of the optional quests and collecting all the different units and items could have easily set me over the 100 hour mark. For $20 this seems quite reasonable and even if you just enjoy the main story while ignoring everything else, you will certainly be entertained by this crazy world and its unique humor.
Pit People is a wild ride from beginning to end, and I can only wonder what The Behemoth will show us next. But for now I really recommend this game if you’re already familiar with previous games made by this developer, fans of strategy in general, or if you wanna have some fun in a senseless world filled with charming little people.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
BattleBlock TheaterPit PeopleSteamThe Behemothturn-based strategy