I have a serious craving for a great first-person roguelike or rogue-lite. Mothergunship and Tower of Guns managed to capture the bullet hell feel of some roguelikes, and while they grabbed me, they haven’t held on like some other roguelikes I come back to frequently—like Dead Cells and Rogue Spire. Void Bastards came close, but it felt more about being careful than fast, tight gunplay. When I saw The Pit: Infinity I was hoping my dreams had finally come true. Instead, I have been subjected to one of the worst first-person shooters I’ve ever played.
In The Pit: Infinity you’re tasked with going into the pit—a labyrinthine techno dungeon of robots and aliens. It’s a flimsy excuse to grab a gun, dive in and start blasting away at the local population—but usually a flimsy excuse is all that’s needed.
The Pit: Infinity lets you choose one of three classes to play: the marine, the scout, and the engineer. Only the marine, for some reason, gets a backstory, while the other two characters are simply described by their stats.
The problem with all of this is not only its clumsy execution, but it’s just so damn earnest. It really feels like the developer thought these design decisions were going to be fun, or badass, or…something. But not only is each component horrible by itself, when combined together it’s just a recipe for disaster. I rarely play a game that fails on so many levels simultaneously.
The UI is atrocious. It’s one of the ugliest I’ve seen in a first-person game since Ark: Survival Evolved. Hitting an enemy will give damage numbers, and tell you whether your hit was dead-on or not. This text is huge, ugly, and actually obscures your vision enough to make finding and shooting that same target again hard.
There are role-playing game hit-mechanics that are thrown into the mix, so even aiming and shooting your target isn’t good enough. A shot right into an enemy may only yield a glancing blow. Random number generators determining whether my dead-center shot hit is not fun gunplay. I’m vehemently against dice roll mechanics in reflex shooting games, anyhow. Even if that game is a role-playing game.
There’s just a weird push towards “realism” all around. The guns feel floaty as a result, and the player character feels like a mass of limbs being dragged by inertia at all times. It’s not a good feeling, and feels like you’re being dragged through mud. There is no tight gunplay here, and even considering its role-playing design choices, it just isn’t very good.
On top of the horrible combat, the enemies are just awful. Most of the time their grand strategy is to run straight towards you—which is sadly effective, especially early-on, as The Pit is caught in another trap of making you fight rats and small robots at the start. It just doesn’t work.
But even without these strange design decisions, The Pit: Infinity is just a tedious, ugly game. The level art is ugly, and it never creates an interesting place to play in. It’s mostly hallways and rooms. You can interact with environmental objects—using various skills to unlock doors, etc. And even then, the level design is just laughably inept. In one playthrough I could easily cruise from the first to the sixth floor because every exit elevator and ladder happened to be where I entered each level.
Despite the procedural generation, I never really felt like I was getting a different experience when I started a new run in The Pit: Infinity. Sure, the levels would be mixed up, but it all just felt and looked the same.
There are various stats you can level up as you make your way through the pit. Attributes are broken down into might, finesse, and brain—all of them do what’s on the tin. Then there are various skills you can level, like combat skills that allow you to better handle different types of weapons, or skills to make it easier to access locked doors, etc. All of these numbers are pretty obscure. I could rarely tell what the exact benefit I got from levelling any attribute or skill.
Hunger is also a consideration, as you will eventually start to starve. There are ways to cook food, as well as craft new items. This feels like more bloat over a framework that is already buckling under the few role-playing elements that were chucked in. Its attempt to be a survival experience on top of that further muddies this dank mud pit.
You can play The Pit: Infinity co-op, and while I personally didn’t experience this, it’s possible it could make the experience better. After all, I commonly argue that any game is better with friends. But why expose a friend to this mess when there are dozens of better games to play. And if you’ve played them all already, why not play another one again, instead of wasting your time with The Pit: Infinity.
Usually there is a beacon of light in all of this—one aspect of the game that is just superb, above all else. The Pit: Infinity is mediocrity the whole way down. It’s not without its potential—but with its time in early access, there was plenty of time for it to meet that.
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