Brought by you to by The Behemoth, the same developers behind Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers and BattleBlock Theater, certain aspects of Pit People are immediately familiar. Once again, the studio brings the unique flash-animations and twisted comedic stylings that have managed to define their careers. The only twist is that, this time, they’re taking on strategy games. Luckily, Pit People retains the same tight gameplay and pacing as its predecessors, and is shaping up to be The Behemoth’s most expansive and ambitious game to date.
Pit People’s presentation is immediately striking. Explosions of color and The Behemoth’s iconic character designs fill nearly every screen. They are simplistic and easy on the eyes, but also impressively expressive and emotive. The music that has been composed for Pit People also happens to be utterly spectacular, striking a balance between jovial jauntiness and retro-inspired camp – and it never lets up, always providing the player with something pleasant to take into their ear canals. Once again accompanying the audio-design is the voice work of YouTube personality, Will Stamper (formerly the narrator for BattleBlock Theater), whose rather versatile voice and delivery enhances the comedy that is so vital to Pit People’s design.
Players assume the role of Horatio, resident of a world ravaged by a seemingly-immortal alien god-bear (really), who must set off in what begins as a revenge-tale. At no point does it appear as though Pit People will ever take itself seriously. This lends a gratifying pick-up-and-play feeling to the game that stems from its utter simplicity in tone and otherwise nonsensical nature. As of the time of this writing, the main story doesn’t yet have much to offer, only providing one real story-arc for players to experience. However, what is there is comedic, promising, and above all else, imminently entertaining.
Luckily, it already seems as though Pit People is going to be overflowing with content and is shaping up to be The Behemoth’s most ambitious game yet. The primary core of the gameplay is a strategy-RPG combat system, not unlike the Fire Emblem series. There’s a certain level of depth to the combat (even if it never approaches the intricacies of the games it is emulating), but it is quite surprising how quickly and organically the game manages to teach the player its rules: Helmets defend against bladed weapons; blunt weapons beat helmets; shields mitigate projectile damage; etc. With importance centralized on how well the player manages to place their combatants, each and every battle scenario present in Pit People is a compelling, bite-sized morsel of a strategy game that is coming together in very promising ways.
Along the way, players recruit additional combatants to accompany them in their journey, ranging from a woman intent on conquering the land for the glory of Spain, to a sentient cupcake that acts as a healer by feeding itself to allied party members. Early into the game, players also attain the ability to capture seemingly any single enemy unit and add them to their party, each coming with their own unique stats and characteristics. In between battles, players move across a top-down, open-world map where they can collect loot consisting of gold, weapons, and supplementary items that can be used to either bolster the ranks or be sold for profit. Pit People, even in this early state, fosters a rather addictive gameplay loop of collecting a staggering number of potential party members, decking each one out with the gear that best makes use of their abilities.
This is to say nothing of the expansive and robust cooperative and player-versus-player systems that the game also incorporates. Put simply, Pit People has a lot to offer, especially to players that were already fans of the wacky Behemoth games that came before. Given the scope of the project, it’s easy to see why The Behemoth chose to put this particular title through an early-access period. Make no mistake, however, the studio appears to know exactly what they are doing. Gamers are advised to keep their eye on Pit People – it’s going to be a good one.