The Amazing Spider Tank

The Amazing Spider Tank
Spider-Tank, Spider-Tank. Does whatever a Spider-Tank does. Can he swing from a web? No he can't, he's a tank. Look out! He is a Spider-Tank!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Pit People Game Preview

Pit People is finally here...sort of. It's here as an early access game, which is kind of like a larger demo. It's a glorified beta test but much better. It's a chance for the developers to give people a semi-finished product, get some feedback, and hopefully continue to add and fix until the official release. I don't mind this, especially if the game is as polished and finished as Pit People.

Giant mutant green blooded bears reek havoc on the planet. Take that global warming.
Pit People is brought to us from The Behemoth, an awesome company that traces its roots back to the Flash animation of their first game Alien Hominid. I have played all of their games and have enjoyed them all. Behemoth started out with Alien Hominid which was a side scrolling shooter like Contra. They moved onto Castle Crashers which was an arcade game similar to the vein of the Simpsons or the X-Men arcade games. They then branched out to the world of platformers with Battleblock Theater, and now are jumping genres again into the turn based strategy game of Pit People. Behemoth is known for their cartooney-hand drawn look of their games, and South Park-ian humor. There are the obligatory poop jokes and other dark and satirical infantile humor. It's great fun.

It's the kind of game that doesn't take itself seriously, what with a giant 6-limbed space bear acting as a demigod over a time period mismash of technology and fantasy. There are few games that boast robots with cyclopian monsters, barbarians with pixies, and zombies with La-Z-Boy Gnomes. Say nothing of the inventory system that allows you to customize your characters with your generic swords, to bowling balls, to trophies, to machine guns, to yogurt cannons.

Balloon-floating-giraffe-riding-uzi-wielding guy? Sure
The game plays as a turn based strategy game similar to X-Com, except much simpler. You can move with all your various units on a hex-based map, and they all have different stats and abilities, but you only move them. They attack on their own, they use their abilities on their own, and you don't actually control anything other than movement. You can narrow down their targets by careful positioning, which definitely helps. I thought I would dislike this, but after many hours of playing I am perfectly fine with this. Each mission of X-Com could take 45 minutes with all the micromanaging. I loved that game, but it can be nice just to move 6 figures and have them do the rest and have a fight be done in 5 minutes. The game moves quickly and has that addicting element of "sure, just one more fight".

"Oops...butterfingers!" I hope nobody important was in there
You control a team of 6 slots. Some creatures take up multiple slots like the vast Troll Mother who spawns little furry trolls. Others give you 2 creatures-for-1-slot like the zombies or gnomes. There is a ton of customization and trial and error when it comes to your team composition. You can simply have a team that has 3 hulking Hairy Trolls that automatically heal themselves and do a ton of damage, or you can get precise and have some humans with tower shields to block incoming arrows, unicorns to shoot a barrage of exploding horns over top, and pixies for crowd control. Part of the strategy while fighting is that everything your characters do gives them experience. Gain enough experience and you level up, which fully heals you, and provides you with a slight increase to your base stats. So you are maneuvering your guys around and trying to position them in a way to level up just at the right time to increase your likelihood of success.

The real fun comes with decking out your favorite team with swag. I love my zombies with diver helmets, my cyclops with candy cane swords, my humans with dastardly mustaches and exploding frog range weapons. There is a lot of treasure hunting and Pokemon gotta-catch-them-all addicting like gameplay that keeps you coming back for more. Your characters can be equipped with nets and if you can manage to kill off all your opponents except your target, you can capture them and add them to your collection. There are over a thousand items to collect, tons of creatures, and to top it all off, all the creatures have different names so if you really want a certain name, you will be doing some hunting.

You are never too old for this humor
 The game currently has a short campaign with promises of more to come. It only spans a few missions, but is hilariously narrated by Will Stamper, veteran of the Behemoth games, and makes it all worth while. I hope they add a lot more narration from him because he is so funny. Everything he says is comedic gold. There are tons of side quests one can do as well, not to mention the promise of treasure hunting. The side quests are pretty varied and are not all simply kill everything on the screen. There was one mission where I had to battle on a chess board and had to carefully maneuver around the board to miss the paths of the opposing units, as they would automatically kill you if they moved into your space. On another mission I had to rescue a cupcake (the game's healing unit), from being eaten at a wedding by the guests. On yet another quest I had to try and take out a band leader before he recruited all the people in the town with their hypnotic music. Some of the missions are very quick and simple, some pit you against much larger armies and you really have to dig down deep in your strategy purse to find a way to win.

Hex based maps, this should be made into a board game
When you are not battling you will find your team carousing around in a caravan on a giant map. Fog of War prevents you from seeing everything so there is a bit of exploration needed. We have been told that we are seeing only a fraction of the final world map, and there is already a lot of room to run around in. There are little nooks and crannies to find special items and quests, and the world is populated with lots of monsters. You can try and find that one missing creature in your collection and run right into them, starting a battle. Or, if you are trying to get to a quest marker and want to avoid combat, you can use the cannons on your caravan to stun an enemy on the map and pass unhindered.

Lots of experience and no death. Impressive
You can showcase your special loot and crazy-named creatures in the pit arena in town if you have exhausted the quests (unlikely) and storyline. You can "pit" your custom teams against the AI in the unfair challenge, which lasts 3 stages of increasing difficulty and unfair odds, and if you manage to make it to the end, you are rewarded with tons of loot, not to mention pit points, which go towards a total and is compared with 100 other random people that play the game. It is a daily little fun mechanic to keep you playing. You compete and depending on how many points you get and what rank you are, you are rewarded with loot at the end of the day. Sometimes you even get special pit loot which is gold chrome plated and looks very snazy. You can also attempt to play other players in PVP as well. I haven't done as much of this but there is a lot of strategy and metagaming. You really get to test your skills against another player, and this will keep the game going a long time after you get bored with other stuff. I hope they expand it.

In town you can also go to the marketplace to specifically buy certain items that show up each day, and even certain characters with maybe a name you really like. There is an option to play different music in town, as well as an insane mode that makes the unfair matches even more ludicrous. You can buy nets for capturing, campfires to heal your party when your out in the wild, and grab quests off the bounty board, and of course customize and play with your team.

Mama Troll doesn't like it when you stab her babies
Pit People is a very odd game that manages to combine silly humor, tactical but quick gameplay, and addicting customization that I am sure will keep me coming back for more. I have played the game preview for over 30 hours and according to my completion statistic I am only slightly over 15% complete. If Behemoth continues to add more content and can round out the campaign aspect, this could be a serious bargain of a game considering the extremely low price tag of $15. Go try it out now!

In my next article I will be posting what improvements I would like to see in Pit People, and some of my suggestions on how to make it better. Until then, keep up the good job Behemoth and thank you all for reading. Happy gaming!

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