It's been a few years now since we've had a new game from the folks over at The Behemoth. Known best for their trio of XBLA releases Alien Hominid HD, Battleblock Theater and of course Castle Crashers it's time now to see what they've been working on these past few years.
If you've been a fan of The Behemoth's previous work then you ought to feel immediately at home with the signature 2D style and wacky humor that you'll find in Pit People. Will Stamper returns from Battleblock Theater to antagonize our blueberry farming beginning hero Horatio and narrate his journey through a post apocalypse that apparently disrupted how time works. Which is perhaps an unnecessary way to justify the turn based mechanics but it's a touch I appreciated nonetheless.
For the record I don't tend to play a ton of turn based strategy games. I play a bit of Fire Emblem and Civilization but it's not usually a genre I invest a ton of time into. With that said, I found the on ramp for Pit People to be welcoming and evenly paced enough that I was able to get in and learn it's mechanics and have new stuff introduced to me at a clip that was just right and kept me from getting overwhelmed or worse, bored. You'll get a number of different party members early on to help you understand the benefits of certain weapons and armor over others.
Once you get to town the game starts to open up in some interesting ways by giving you access to some key places. This will act as your hub world where you can buy items, collect quests and story missions to embark on and battle it out in The Pit. The Pit is going to be where you'll get the highest yield of money by taking challenges in the "Unfair Co-op" which serves up three rounds of battle vs. the AI or in "PvP" supporting 2 to 4 players. You can use this coin to buy items or spend it on weapons and fighters in the market. Lastly is your house, which is where you'll do all of your team building and set configurations with everything you've unlocked so far. Want to wear a flannel hat and wield an olive at the end of a toothpick? Done. How about a flamethrower and a top hat? Go for it. Each weapon and piece of equipment will be categorized into types that will affect your core stats such as Attack, Range, Defense, Block, Dodge and each will have a weight value assigned to it. Your weight will affect your ability to dodge and movable spaces per turn so your setup becomes a balancing act of dialing in how you want each character to play. There's plenty of freedom to create varying degrees of tank or ranged characters provided you have the equipment and I found that there's tons of fun customization to be had in the current build of the game.
So you've got your team set the way you want and you're ready to take them out into the world right? Well the battles themselves are about positioning and repositioning your characters according to their equipment and role they're meant to play. If the battles become too easy for you there's also an "Insane difficulty" switch in town to make things tougher. I found that for my relatively casual play style the encounters were quick enough that I never felt bogged down in a single fight for too long and you're rewarded with enough stuff that I found myself taking the time to fight battles that were just kind of along the way to wherever my current quest was taking me. You can stun these enemies and just run on by if you're not in the mood for a random encounter or just want to hurry on to the task at hand. The other incentive to partake in these battles though is that you can capture enemies to add them to your pool of fighters. With over a dozen species to choose from and each having their own specialties The quick engagements and the ease with which you can swing by town to dump off your loot once your inventory gets full creates a fun gameplay loop of going out to complete objectives and then returning home to sift through all the stuff that you picked up and then change up your party's equipment so you can go do it again.
The game isn't quite done yet but what I've played in my preview looks promising. Pit People will be arriving on Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview on January 13th. There's currently nothing announced for other platforms.