Don't eat that cupcake! It's our healer!!
San Diego Comic-Con now features a wide variety of fandoms and entertainment, and video game companies are mostly located on the north side of the main hall. Nestled in between gigantic companies like Nintendo and Ubisoft this year was The Behemoth, a small group of game developers who banded together in 2003 and crafted their debut title called Alien Hominid. This year The Behemoth showed several titles at Comic-Con, and I was able to talk to one of the developers and get hand-on time with their newest game titled Pit People.
Formerly known as Game 4, Pit People is best described as “a fast-paced, turn-based co-op adventure.” While this may sound like an oxymoron, that's only because most turn-based strategy games are extremely intricate and offer deep gameplay. With so many choices and options, some turns can last for several minutes at a time. While Pit People is technically a turn-based strategy game, it streamlines the options and abilities into turns that can be played quickly or semi-quickly. It's more of a game of positioning than using special abilities on certain targets. I was skeptical at first, but after playing it for a while, I'm hooked.
It helps that the game has such a hilarious narrator. His sarcastic delivery is spot-on, and some of the things he said had me literally laughing out loud. The narrator is the voice of a mysterious gigantic Space Bear, who crash-lands on a planet and cracks it into hexagons. His landing messes up time and space, which is why the characters experience combat in turns. The big mystery is “where did that bear come from, why did this happen, and why is this bear screwing with us?”
Even though the game is called Pit People, there are plenty of things in the game that aren't people, like cyclops, walking cupcakes (the healer), and other weird creatures. Any loot players get in the game corresponds to the characters they're using, so fighters get weapons and cupcakes get different flavors and toppings (why the hell not?). Players can customize their characters however they want, and this is what has the biggest effect during combat. When the attack button is pressed, the type of attack is automatically determined based on the character, their equipment, and their position relative to the enemy.
For example, when a melee fighter is moved next to an enemy, he'll attack that enemy. If he's moved beside two enemies, the A.I. determines which enemy he'll attack. When a ranged fighter is moved next to an enemy, he won't attack, but he will attack if there's a space between them. Equipment is also important because shields guard against arrows and certain weapons are more effective against certain enemies, like using a mallet on enemies wearing helmets. It's also possible to inflict damaging combos by moving multiple characters to different sides of the same enemy.
The Behemoth is known for making great games without using Hollywood voice-actors, top-notch visuals, or multi-million dollar marketing. I foresee Pit People following this trend. The cartoon-like visuals and basic gameplay compliment the hilarious story and narrative while weapon and character customization make up for the lack of depth in combat. This type of turn-based strategy game is a refreshing change because I don't always want to play out multiple complex scenarios in my head before I take a turn.
Pit People is a single-player adventure, but it also has two-player co-op both locally and online. In addition, there's a versus mode, which should prove to be quite entertaining. This game will be available on Xbox One and through Steam, but the release date has yet to be determined.