Even though I’ve never played a game from the “Sword of the Stars” franchise and neither am I a bit familiar with the whole universe it presents, I’ve found myself sinking deep into “The Pit”. But Sword of the Stars: The Pit has a different take than its predecessor, it is a top-down rougelike and has nothing in common with simulated space battles that the series usually has to offer.
The Story of the game is very easily told, so a plague breaks out in your colony and they aren’t able to find a cure. But there are rumors that the answers to this deadly disease could be found in an alien facility. Although this place seems very hostile and no explorer ever came back, what chance do you have? So the game begins by setting you off into this Pit, so you can find a cure for the plague.
Already total chaos in my inventory, i love it!
The core and heart of this game is truly its gameplay. It covers all the basics of a rougelike: random generated dungeons, a vast variety in items and weaponry, turn-based actions and of course permanent death. Also it combines a lot of RPG elements in it too. You have an inventory to manage and you level up through experience to invest new skill-points into certain abilities. The Marine, Scout or Engineer are your selectable starting classes, everyone provides you with an advantage to particular abilities. For example the marine has a better ability to handle weapons and the engineer can hack easily into control panels. After you choose a class you are ready to explore the hostile environments of the pit. The “dungeons” are mainly floors that are filled with monsters, items, computer panels and traps. Killing enemies, looting items and exploring further crafting options are your main tasks. As you progress you will go deeper and deeper in the pit and the difficulty adds up with every floor. And let me tell you one thing: This is a freaking difficult game. The fact that mostly everything is randomized (item-drops, enemy-spawns, traps etc.) makes every attempt to beat the game unique and it also can make it a lot harder. It seems to me that if I don’t get certain drops in the game that I’m not able to beat the game and this is very frustrating. Despite this fact I kept on playing, because the game has such a vast variety on weapons and items to offer, it is amazing. Exploring the crafting system and finding out what you can cook and what combination isn’t going to work is a lot of fun. Yes, you cook in this game, because your soldier has to eat to maintain its strength. There is also a medical and weapon-crafting system that you learn to master as well.
This will not end well, i guess..
So basically you are running from floor to floor killing enemies, open lockers, repairing control panels, encrypting massages, defusing traps, looting items and using them to craft different items. The game presents you a pseudo turn-based mechanic. Although you can move around with WASD, if you are near enemies you take a turn to perform an action, which results in attacking, moving or healing basically. The Weapons you can attack with range from a simply knife to a powerful laser rifle. So in a sense the turn-based element adds a lot of strategy to the game. Managing your inventory and the short supply of items that are in your possession is the core here.
Another Round? Hmmm, OK!
But the one thing the developer could have done better are the controls. They just feel weird. Mostly you control your character with the keyboard but when you have to manage your inventory you have to use your mouse which would be fine if not both of your hands actually are already in use. Another dissonance with the game that I personally have is the presentation. It’s a top-down rougelike and the graphics are very simple and that just bores me after a while. Many other indie titles already done this part so much better.
Despite the weird controls and the bleak presentation, this game truly is a lot of fun. It offers you strategy with crucial decisions and a lot of content to explore. This game could be the bastard child of “The Binding of Isaac” and “FTL” and if you are patient you can easily spend twenty hours plus in “The Pit”.