My party of six, which included a cupcake healer who throws chunks of itself at others in order to restore their health and some form of pantyhose-wearing llama-spider hybrid, was invited to a wedding by Scrumptious the Cupcake. What started as a simple task, quickly devolved into me killing the newly-weds by throwing cabbages at them, as they were intent on eating the cupcake I was with. Afterwards, I went ahead and solved the Tinkletown mystery, which involved finding out who was pooping all over town at night. In case you’re thinking I just made this up, I didn’t. My imagination usually aims for a balance between poop and glitter, whereas Pit People, The Behemoth’s newest creation, does not.
Titles such as Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theatre have made a name for The Behemoth, at least with the indie crowd. By the looks of what’s available on Early Access at the moment, Pit People might as well continue this tradition. A departure in terms of genre, Pit People climbs up the tactics tree. However, where other games usually have you putting much thought into team compositions and push one towards min/maxing, Pit People does not. A lighter approach is instead taken. The largest change takes place in the combat department, where you can’t always directly choose which target your characters attack. During your move, you can choose a spot where to place them. If that spot happens to be next to one single character, then everything’s fine and dandy. Move them closer to a crowd, however, and they’ll attack a target of their choice. Couple this with a pretty varied roster of characters which includes unicorns that attack at range using their explosive horns, fairies, vampire-things and much more, there’s a lot of insanity to witness.
After one has decided where their characters move, they all move simultaneously. What follows can be described as a glorious mess of hits, numbers and colorful explosions. Certainly, the screen can get quite busy at times and you don’t often know who deals how much damage until everything has concluded, yet, that’s not necessarily important. Pit People’s focus isn’t on difficulty. Henceforth, masterful tacticians who play XCOM with their eyes closed won’t have that itch scratched here. However, people who haven’t touched tactics games, or are simply not strict regarding difficulty, will find tons of fun.
Different types of characters come with different abilities. Every character can be customized with helmets and weapons. While, as of Early Access, more weapons have had status effects added to them, there’s no requirement to go out of your way for some sword that gives +10 fire damage. There’s no guarantee you’ll find one when you want to, but really, you will get similar results using, say, a traffic light instead. This means that, instead of chasing stats, you end up chasing that helmet that resembles the Shoop Da Whoop meme, or a pair of gnomes riding floating toilets who are both named Fat. New items can be obtained by completing quests, or fighting random mobs as you roam the open world(s). Capturing mobs require a cage item you buy before leaving the town and singling out that enemy you want. When all other enemies are dead, you need to move your trapper in the specified area and, bam, you now have a floating, gelatinous alien head to hunt trolls with.
It should be fairly evident that its humor is a selling point of the game. Nonsensical from start to, well, the point I got to, Pit People puts you in all sorts of hilarious scenarios. It’s these situations and the characters’ reaction to them that often kept at bay the boredom that would, otherwise, set in when playing longer sessions. In this regard, The Behemoth have struck a fine balance between a rather light tactics gameplay and offering great context for it. The story itself follows the same thread, although, as expected, not a whole lot of it is available at this moment.
When you’re not fighting all sorts of creatures, you’re either roaming the world, in your trusty wagon, or can be found in the town. The town acts as a hub area where you can customize your party, reviewing available items and characters, participate in daily PVP tournaments or pitting your team against a random person’s team. A market is there for those with extra gold to spend on new items or mercenaries. An optional insane mode can be toggled from one of the buildings, which raises the difficulty considerably, and a giant phone can call others to your session. You can play Pit People with a friend, or a total stranger and, from my experience, sharing the game’s craziness with another person can add to the enjoyment. While on the world map, you can avoid fights by using your cannon, which stuns enemies, allowing for a fairly easy way of choosing which fights to get in and which to avoid. Lastly, and by far most importantly, your wagon can poop. At this time, I’d say the breaks in between poops are a bit too long, so, perhaps it’s something to look into for that next update.
Apart from a slightly annoying bug, which makes you unable to scroll down in order to select characters while in combat, and the occasional framedrop or two, Pit People was one of the more stable experiences to have with Early Access games. More than that, it’s one of the most polished Early Access titles one can get their hands on. It was genuinely fun and hilarious, always making it clear that the team had a unified vision to which they’ve stuck quite well. It goes without saying that I’m looking forward to see what the next updates will bring and, more importantly, to getting my hands on the full version of the game. In the meantime, though, I’ve a ghost wearing an afro to catch.