Pit People is the latest game from The Behemoth, and their first title to ever go into Early Access on Steam, and Game Preview. Originally known as Game 4, it’s a break from the genres that they usually favour, while sticking to their trademark art style, music, and sense of humour.
Pit People is a turn based strategy game with a difference, combining The Behemoth’s cutesy art style with their same bizarre and puerile sense of humour. The space bear from their previous game, Battleblock Theatre is the cosmic entity in this game that destroys the world, shattering it into a hex shaped hell scape of weird monsters, enemies with arrows and submachine guns, and talking cupcakes that fling frosting to heal you.
So far, so The Behemoth, but where Pit People thrives in its short Game Preview demo (with the current ‘full’ build of the game available to buy) is with the rock solid gameplay, and hilarious dialogue. Somewhat like Battleblock Theatre, from the start of the game you are taunted by an antagonistic narrator who kills the main character Horatio’s son on a whim and sends him on a quest for revenge and weirdness.
Pit People subverts some of the complicated issues in turn based strategy titles by opting for a chess style approach. Your character will attack the enemy closest to them at the end of their turn. A character with a shield can block arrows for other team members. Axes are strong against helmets, and so on. As you progress through the game, you quickly gain new party members with various different abilities activated by their positions relevant to an enemy.
Early in the game, the combat is light on strategy, and heavy on bombast. It’s loud, colourful, and stupid, and a hell of a lot of fun. Its a thousand miles away from the likes of X-COM or The Banner Saga, providing a light bite of fun combat, which slowly ramps up the mechanics and difficulty in a satisfying way. When you reach the city hub world, it becomes clear that there’s much more to this game. Pit People is a huge fan of randomised loot, new weapons, party members, and silly cosmetic items.
Just about everything can be customised, with new gear providing buffs. There are also ample opportunities to recruit strange new friends in the heat of battle, simply by killing every enemy but the potential recruit. The potential companions are weird and wonderful, the first being a healing cupcake called Gluten. You’ll also come across a gnome, a spider, and much more, each with their own personalities and wholly unique skills. Choosing the right companion for combat looks to be an integral part of the experience.
Up until the end of the Game Preview demo, Pit People adds on new mechanics, loot, and hilarious writing and colourful characters, crafting a game in a well-worn genre that does an admirable job of scaling everything back to what makes it fun.
Not only is Pit People a fun game that provides a laugh every minute, it also seems the perfect title to introduce someone to the satisfying tactical thrills of turn based combat. It’s also a perfect New Year’s palette cleanser, a fantastically stupid game that’s a perfect antidote to the generally po-faced Triple A offerings of late 2016.
It’s not surprising that The Behemoth made this game available in early access, as the early stages are incredibly polished, and a lot of fun. It remains to be seen if the game can sustain the combat balance, plot, and sense of humour throughout its entire running time, but at this early stage, if you’re a fan of fun, you should check out Pit People.