Behemoth’s Pit People finished its closed beta over the weekend and thusly, I have opinions on how the beta went down. I feel a bit like a liar for even titling this piece as “first impressions” because the beta wasn’t my first time with Pit People. I will concede, however, that playing the Pit People beta was the first time I was able to test everything the game has to offer. In previous play attempts, I killed all of my characters during the first major battle. (I’m EXCELLENT at video games.)
Since this is an impressions piece, I won’t go all review-y on the game but instead just talk about what did and did not work, what I’d like to see in the final product and so on, because Behemoth values my input as a loud-mouthed gamer with opinions out the wazoo. (That’s a slight at myself, not at Behemoth. They’re actually quite good at responding to feedback.)
To start, Pit People is a strategy game that follows a rag tag group of warriors as they make their way around the oddly hexagonal-tiled world. Their duty is to stop the evil Space Bear God Thing from destroying everything they love, including their parents, kids, and some weird bug creature that looks like it would be right at home in Image Comics’ SAGA. Like any RPG, you can follow quests from a board inside the main city of the game, but if you want to fly your own freak flag, you’re also able to participate in friendly team murder in The Pit (Arena) battleground or through some good old-fashioned PvP.
- The Funnies. Pit People’s humor is classic Behemoth, ridiculous to a T and perfect for this style of game. Thank the almighty Bear God it never takes itself too seriously. Also, don’t worship the almight Bear God too much because he is on a power trip and doesn’t need a bigger ego.
- Characters. From the expected archetypes with crazy hair to creepy flying bug monsters, you can recruit them all for your party. They are all wonderfully eccentric in their own way and man, what I wouldn’t give for some kind of ridiculous Dragon Age banter between Horatio and Sofia while traveling on the overworld.
- Customization. Along with your plethora of characters comes a ton of customization. Headgear, weapons, off-hand items, attire, and so on, can all be swapped out in the heroes’ base of operations. I enjoy most of the original looks for the characters, but it’s nice to have the option to make them all pretty. Or ugly.
- Pipistrella. In and out of battle, she’s the best character. I love her pink headdress, I love her mace, I love her ability to pummel enemy faces.
- The Premise. Narrated by Will Stamper, who does all of Behemoth’s narration, Pit People has a somewhat cliche story of man vs. evil, but it works for the game. The story isn’t what matters. It’s the art and the gameplay that carries this game and it works well.
What Doesn’t Work
- The UI. Oh, man. This is a cluttered mess. Because Pit People is turn-based, it relies heavily on you moving the proper character to the right hexagonal tile. At least a dozen times I moved the wrong character because it’s so hard to tell who exactly is being moved. Undoing one move also undoes all moves, which is frustrating once you reach the maximum amount of characters in your party. The lines across the tiles are unnecessary and just add to the confusion.
- The Lengthy Turns. When I was a wee Jen, I had no problem waiting during a turn-based battle system. In my crotchety old age, however, I do not have the time that was once afforded to me to play video games. While Pit People isn’t as bad as some strategy games, the AI turns, especially in larger boss battles, can be lengthy. If there were an option to simply skip their turns, I’d have done it.
- Save States. I have no idea when this game saves. No, seriously. Every time I closed out the game, I took a gamble, hoping it saved most of what I’d done. Twice I had to redo main portions of the story because I thought it had saved when it didn’t.
- No Skippable Cut Scenes. With not knowing how the game saved, not being able to skip cut scenes was frustrating. I love the story so far, but I don’t love having to watch it play out three times because my game didn’t save. Let me choose to skip the story.
- Lack of Explanation. It took a lot of trial and error to understand some of the nuances of the game. The UI design focuses so heavily on style that it causes me to miss out on important data, like the fact that if you return to the main city without completing a quest, you fail that quest.
I’m excited for Pit People. It has some issues in the beta that proved to be irritating, but all in all, I think once the bugs are hammered out of the final product, it’ll be a solid entry into the genre. It’s a challenging game, not one for children under 10 or Jen’s before noon, but once you get the hang of the style, it’s engaging. Basically, if you like turn-based games that are absolutely littered with Behemoth’s classic sense of humor, then Pit People is for you.