When I heard that The Behemoth had made a turn-based strategy game, I had to set aside my serious mindset towards the genre in favor of something expectedly silly. Seldom can a game both stimulate my strategic mind, while tickling my funny bone. Pit People does a fair job of finding a happy medium in that regard.
At first glance, you’ll recognize the unique art style of Dan Paladin paired once again with the eccentric and enthusiastic narration of Will Stamper. They both have worked on past Behemoth games, such as Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theatre. Their talents, wrapped in the super catchy music of Patric Catani, make for a powerful and aesthetically pleasing experience.
The strongest thing that Pit People has going for it is it’s humor. It’s absurd and creative, yet it all ties together in the grand scheme. A giant, dead space bear has fallen to the planet, and its angry companion is wreaking havoc across the land. The main character, a humble blueberry farmer named Horatio, embarks on a journey, meeting everything from awkward cupcake friends to Spanish Inquisitors. The narrator “bears” a hostility for the protagonist, which culminates into a malicious banter that kept me thoroughly entertained. The wildly unreasonable nature of both the writing, and the game universe as a whole, is what held my interest in the game the most.
Outside of that, the game is average. The turn-based combat borrows a fair number of concepts from other games of the genre: Big tough tanks, weak ranged archers, and fragile healers. Certain weapons beat certain armors. You know the drill. One unique feature is that you don’t choose who your fighters attack, they simply go after whoever is within range. While the idea sounds neat, it made virtually no difference in gameplay.
One issue I noticed was how predictable the combat was. When I was doing well, I only had to stand still. The only movement taking place was when an enemy would try and run away, with my men in pursuit. I recall fighting a darkness bear monster, where none of my fighters moved at all for 4 turns before succeeding. Inversely, when the odds were against me, and I was losing, there wasn’t any kind of tactical placement I could do that would tip the scales in my favor. It felt like my own participation in fights mattered less than choosing the right team combination. Fortunately, there is enough weapon and fighter variety to allow for plenty of diversity in how you assemble a team. Perhaps the developers knew this already since there is an “auto-combat” setting.
If you don’t grow tired of the main game mechanic, then there is plenty to do. A seemingly never-ending collection of side quests provide the player with as much exposure to the ridiculous humor as you could want. Assuming you’ve not grown tired of the jokes by that point, of course.
Pit People is a gold-plated game. The initial exposure is strong and impressive, but it’s still fairly vanilla at the core. While it’s better than your average indie game, will anyone remember it a year or two from now? With a lower-than-industry-average price tag of $14.99, I’d recommend it to someone who anyone who’s fond of both turn-based strategy games and absurdist humor.
- Absurd humor
- Fitting art/music
- Unengaging gameplay