Sword of the Stars: The Pit

An in-depth look at the latest roguelike developed by Kerberos.

By PKKHaseo, Posted 28 Mar 2013

Sword of the Stars: The Pit is a roguelike set in the Sword of the Stars Universe, established in the previous two 4x games developed by Kerberos Productions. The game will have you fight off increasingly challenging hordes of enemies, while at the same time providing you with better gear that will make it easier for you to progress. Like any Roguelike, The Pit has permadeath which means once you die, your character is gone forever and also features randomized dungeons, so every time you restart, the layout of the dungeons will be different to the previous ones.

Some people might be put off at hearing the name Kerberos, since they are known for their buggy premature releases. Fortunately this isn’t the case of SotS: The Pit, with the game having no major bugs, if any. The game has a gorgeous aesthetic, a retro, yet clean art style, with high quality textures and sprites. The environment changes looks as you advance from dirty bat infested caves to storerooms full of rats and work droids to bloody test labs and much more. The Pit also features a slick and user-friendly UI, with its futuristic yet minimalist design.

The story is bare-bones at most, but given the genre of the game that is to be expected. What the story does have is a lot of references to the other Sword of the Stars games, which the fans of the franchise will surely notice and appreciate. The game starts by telling you that there has been an outbreak on one of the colonized planets, called Arbuda IV. So far human scientists have failed to find a cure for this outbreak, and so your team is sent in to investigate a supposedly Suul’ka facility dug deep into the Feldspar Mountains, in hopes that you’ll find something to help develop a cure. All you know for sure is that all expeditions into these mountains have failed to return.

Unlike most Roguelikes where you lose any and all progress when you die, The Pit gives you some persistence in the form of various messages that you can find and decipher as you progress onward. These messages contain either lore about the facility or useful recipes you will be able to use to craft weapons, armor, traps, food (since there’s hunger bar that you’ll have to manage the entire game) and much more. Depending on the length of the message, it will take finding it several times for you to fully decipher it.

Sword of the Stars, The Pit, Review, Rogue, Roguelike, SotS, Dungeons, Sci-fi, Dredmor

The game features 3 classes: Marine, Scout and Engineer, each coming with its own set of stats and load-outs. The Marine is the toughest class, focusing on dealing damage more than anything else. The Engineer is more focused on opening locked things and hacking various systems, so you should make the most of your environment. The Scout is the fastest class, but also the least tough, with her skills focusing on close quarters combat and scavenging.

Every character has 3 stats: Might, Finesse and Brain, with 15 passive skills, each pertaining to a certain stat. While most of these abilities are self-explanatory, the game does a poor job at explaining in what way and to what extent some of them affect your character. For example, I found out only by mistake that for every 10 points spent into Might you get 6 more slots added to your inventory. So I recommend reading the game manual before starting to play, because this game is pretty ruthless and every advantage that you can get is welcomed.

Talking about the inventory, like any loot based game, you must be prepared to do a lot of inventory management or, as I like to call it, inventory Tetris. You can expand your inventory by finding pouches and by putting more points into might, but no matter how spacious it gets, it still won’t be enough. Even though the game gives you the possibility to filter through the different things you packed in it, once you hit maximum capacity, finding a specific item becomes a real chore since the quantity counter covers the entire icon of the item. So the inventory could use a bit of improvement.

Sword of the Stars, The Pit, Review, Rogue, Roguelike, SotS, Dungeons, Sci-fi, Dredmor

The game will introduce you with different types of debuffs, ranging from poison, disease, radiation to blind, dizzy and a lot more. The first three that I mentioned, have several levels of “nastiness”, each doing more damage than the previous, not only draining your life, but also draining your stats and once one of them hits 0 you die. Out of all the debuffs the most annoying by far, especially at higher difficulties, is disease, because unlike poison and radiation which decay over time, disease has a chance to worsen, and once it hits level 6 you are dead.

The game has 4 difficulty levels, each more unforgiving than the other, with the last one being reserved for the strong willed ones. Content-wise, the game has 30 levels, with a large variety of enemies and items that can be found in the game. You’ll have to adapt your tactics for each type of enemy in order to survive. It took me more than 10 hours to beat the game at easy with the marine, so considering the nature of the game you can easily sink hundreds of hours into this game.

With a really beautiful retro art style, addictive gameplay, tons of content and a huge replay value, it’s hard not to recommend this game. If you add to this the low price tag, Sword of the stars: The Pit is simply a must have.

Cirstoiu Alexandru, NoobFeed

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Sword of the Stars: The Pit

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Kerberos
Developer(s): Kerberos Productions
Genres: Strategy
Themes: Role-Playing
Release Date: 2013-03-09

85/100