The Behemoth’s Pit People is getting a simultaneous early access launch on both Steam and Xbox One next month. We've explored the hexagonal world to bring you our first impressions ahead of time.
That first battle introduces the turn-based battle system that will be instantly familiar to fans of The Banner Saga or XCOM. Whilst the movement may be similar to the aforementioned luminaries of the genre, it differentiates itself by not allowing the player to attack enemies directly. Instead, after choosing to move your team and 'execute' your gameplan, your team will move into the selected positions and decide who to attack on their own.
It's an interesting mechanic which, albeit somewhat counter-intuitively, adds an even deeper level of tactics; if you place a powerful melee fighter adjacent to two enemies, for example, they may take down the weaker opponent, or they may determine that the best course of action is to go for the tanky brute, potentially leaving them open to two counterattacks when play switches to the opposition.
As you progress through the story you'll meet new allies and be able to use them in battle. Some may have their own weapons, allowing you to utilise new skills, such as adding ranged fighters or healers to your team, eventually culminating in a well-balanced, six-man band of fighters.
Traversing the open world entails moving your caravan through a samey, hexagonal landscape, in which a 'fog of war' obscures your view. Encounters are illustrated by wandering enemies, and bumping into one of these respawning combatants will initiate a battle, though some can be avoided by taking a different path. When you're out in the open, planning is key, as any member of your team who gets eliminated will be unavailable in subsequent battles - until you return to your house, that is, which is situated in the main hub area.
You can purchase an item that allows you to enjoy the same healing benefits by establishing a camp, regardless of where you might be, but you’ll want to think carefully before using one of these consumables. You’ll likely face a longer and more perilous journey back once you’ve met your objective and it comes time to actually return home.
A wealth of customisation options can help keep your party going, decking out characters with different weapons and attire, some of these accoutrements changing up their stats, whilst others simply function as new skins.
On the multiplayer front, Pit People supports co-op, along with a tournament mode, in which you can take on players in 1v1 or 2v2 PvP battles, or simply practice against the AI. These arena battles can be useful to get some much needed coin and try out new strategies without needing to worry, as the arena is located right next to your house, permitting quick retrieval of any downed troops.
Overall, our time with the game thus far has proved very enjoyable. The visuals are characteristic of the developer, the gameplay is solid end-to-end, it’s funny, and the audio melds incredibly well with the permeating sense of light-hearted despair. We’ve played enough to get a good grasp of what will be on offer come release, and can safely say that fans of The Behemoth and strategy alike are in for a good time. In short; this is one to watch.