The last time we sat down to play Behemoth's new turn-based strategy game, Pit People, they were still calling it Game 4. According to Behemoth co-founder John Baez, settling on a name can be one of the most divisive and strenuous parts of development. What seems to come easy to the studio (at least from our perspective) is creating over the top co-op experiences with charm and personality.
The Behemoth booth stands out at PAX, situated near the main entrance to the show floor. Each year they bring out arcade cabinets loaded with their previous games for anyone to try out. Pit People gets special treatment with custom built stations arranged in a circle, including in-house built controllers that we want to buy.
Last year's demo introduced us to the basic mechanics of Pit People and the colorful cast of characters like Horatio, the humble blueberry farmer. This year we jumped right into the main game to explore co-op combat and unit customization. Our motley crew set out into the wilds in a caravan lead by non other than our own Joey Davidson. Joey, take it away…
Here's the thing I was most upset with during our Pit People demo: the volume wasn't loud enough. I couldn't hear the amazing jokes I'm sure this game was dealing us ad nauseam. It had to be turned down thanks to our particular station peaking too much. It was for our ear safety, which I'm to say is still intact.
I mean, I did hear them every once in a while, but I wanted a full range of Behemoth's humor offered up, not the small amount we received.
Still, that was maybe my only complaint. Pit People is sort of more amazing than I thought it would be when played cooperatively. I never assumed that would be the case, but there we were, giggling and strategizing as 25 minutes flew by.
Missing out on the narration was certainly disappointing. The Behemoth's writing style and Will Stamper's voiceovers are a perfect match. I was still excited to see how the game would play out with both of us controlling separate teams on the map.
The turn-based element for this game is perfectly suited for multiplayer. We started out sending our heroes off in different directions, attacking enemies with little thought to how our strategy would play out. It didn't take long for us to realize we needed to talk things through a little more and work together if we wanted to have the best possible outcome.
No one needed to come by and tell us how to play the game correctly. We figured that out together, and we easily could work in different tactics to win battles.
Turn-based games are supposed to feel slow, right? The extended demo for Pit People flew by.
Right, that's the thing about Pit People. As The Behemoth's co-founder John Baez told us in our chat afterwards, this game aims to take all of the slow-down and tedious bits out of the tactical strategy genre and make it faster and friendlier.
Not that this game isn't hard. As Baez explained, Pit People "will be as hard as you want it to be." If you're a tactical strategy veteran with decades of Fire Emblem, X-COM and Final Fantasy Tactics below your belt, you'll have a challenge waiting for you.
Removing that tediousness and quickening the pace, coupled with The Behemoth's typical humor and one-of-a-kind art style, makes Pit People a good game for genre beginners as well.
I'd say between us, I'm certainly more of the tactical strategy fan; however, you and I rolled just fine through this demo. We wound up losing one of our characters, but that served as a slap in the face and forced us to slow down, place our characters correctly and then kick some ass… with cupcakes named Gluten.
We definitely experienced a little bit of tug-of-war with the AI in this game. The computer doesn't shy away from sending units straight for your weakest members, which forced us to rethink our positioning until the momentum switched back in our favor.
I can see myself not only enjoying this game solo, but bringing in friends and family members who wouldn't normally think they'd want to play strategy games. The Behemoth bridges those gaps and makes games approachable.
Multiplayer became this feature in the games industry that was tacked on to give players the illusion they were getting more for their money. It was an afterthought in some cases. Like their other titles, Pit People embraces and nails cooperative play.
In 25 minute, we only completed one full battle and most of a second encounter. We went all-in on the combat, had a blast, but didn't explore the full features of what the game has to offer.
We asked Baez, too, about how long this thing is. He mentioned that they don't even have a full count yet. We can attest to the fact that it's going to be massive.
We couldn't even finish two battles here in nearly half an hour. The game is going to be crammed with a campaign, side quests and all sorts of encounters.
You can recruit enemies, too, something we tried to do towards the latter half of our battle before time ran out. That requires items you buy in camp, like a cage and net, and leaving that enemy alive. It's tricky, especially to pull off in a limited demo, but it will absolutely add to the length and variety of the game.
There's a lot this game has to offer. I can see myself scouring the map endlessly to find every hidden quest and encounter, just so I can collect as many types of units as possible.
I love that you have those options to explore and experiment to fit your style.
I'm excited for that, too.
Pit People doesn't have a release date yet. A closed beta is coming up, and Baez told us that the team will try and figure out where they are once that beta is through.
The game will release on PC and Xbox One for sure, but we were assured that The Behemoth loves all platforms. Maybe a PlayStation version will come down the line.