Developer The Behemoth reached legendary status back during Xbox Live Arcade’s heyday with the release of Castle Crashers back in 2008. They have slowly but steadily been releasing games ever since, with Battleblock Theater in 2013 receiving praise from fans and critics alike. Pit People seems to follow The Behemoth’s trend of absurd, over-the-top humor with witty writing, cartoon art style, and the availability of co-op play.
Pit People takes place in an apocalyptic world thrown into disarray when a giant dead bear crashed down upon the planet. You take the role of Horatio, a blueberry farmer whose son was crushed by the meddling of the narrator, another giant bear. Horatio gathers a band of adventurers to fight through the crazy and dangerous world on a quest for vengeance against the narrator. Pit People is crazier than my description sounds, and hilarious in a way video games rarely are successfully nowadays.
The gameplay consists of venturing out for a hub area into the greater world. You can leave the hub with a quest, or find those as you explore the large and varied overworld of Pit People. You travel in a caravan of up to six fighters to complete quests, or fight random encounters along the way. Whether at a quest location, or through a random encounter, once you come into proximity of a threat, you go into a turn-based battle mode.
The battles themselves are a little Fire Emblem and a little X-COM, but manage to feel less strategic than those titles. Pit People is more about positioning than anything else. The combat is turn based, but once you decide where your character will be positioned, that’s where your control ends. The AI then decides who it will attack, heal, use its spells on, etc. This greatly simplifies combat for people unable or unwilling to get into deeper strategy titles, but the lack of specific control often left me frustrated and sometimes left me feeling that I had little agency in battles. The Behemoth’s games are usually known for their quick action, but Pit People’s battles are anything but—usually long, drawn-out affairs that would take me between ten to twenty minutes on the higher end. You do have some control, as you can position your characters into optimal positions—clubs next to helmeted enemies for maximum effect, ranged fighters appropriately distanced, etc. But sometimes even then my fighters would make baffling decisions.
Luckily, there is an auto-battle mode that allows the AI to take over. This allows you to walk away during mundane fights, like encounters on the world map, etc. But you’ll need to take over when the fight gets complicated, such as some puzzle sections and larger boss battles that appear later on. Winning a battle means winning loot, which you can equip or sell back at your house back at the hub. The equipment you gather does a great job of making your character look ever crazier with weapons like fried chicken drumsticks, and various wigs or other random items that make up the gear in Pit People. Unfortunately, other than the ridiculous factor, I rarely came across an item or piece of gear that excited me and made me want to find more.
Pit People’s soundtrack is notable, extremely catchy, and helps tie the insanely absurd world together. Sometimes I would set autobattle on to grind out some experience while away from my desk, only to end up sitting and staring at the entire battle as I’m bobbing my head to the music. Absolutely everything about the soundtrack, art, and writing is amazing and on point.
When Pit People is telling its story, or when you’re just looking at the hilarious animations jumping to a poppin’ soundtrack, it’s at its best. Unfortunately, its long battles tended to be a little tedious, and therefore, unfun. I absolutely adore the world of Pit People, but despite being a huge The Behemoth fan, I didn’t enjoy my time with Pit People. It might be worth it for the humor and soundtrack alone, but I found myself preferring to set the game on autopilot rather than manually sitting through the battles. Pit People is available now for Windows and Xbox One.
A copy of this game was provided to us for review purposes