The Behemoth Tackles Turn-based Strategy with Pit People

Speckled horseman in the pit

The Behemoth’s Pit People is a fast-paced, turn-based co-op adventure. It’s also, according to Production Coordinator Ian Moreno, “The story of four tragically unique characters who come together in a quest through an apocalyptic wasteland.”

Of course, this being the fourth game from the folks behind cartoony, quirky, critically acclaimed gems Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers, and BattleBlock Theater, you can bet “unique” is the key word in Moreno’s description. Sure enough, as my hands-on session began, a snarky narrator introduced a reluctant, no-neck hero named Horatio as “a humble blueberry farmer” facing a “spicy” situation. Said situation sees the unlikely protagonist up against a small army of hooded, bearded baddies that intend to use their swords and bows to “take his house and eat his child.”

Upon positioning Horatio into a designated hexagon in front of an enemy, he let loose with his wooden sword and defended with a shield that appeared to actually be a section of white-picket fence. Using this same strategy, I systematically wiped the board of most adversaries. Sadly, my efforts were made moot by an oversized bear paw that swooped in and crushed Horatio’s house and his son, Hansel.

The bittersweet victory progressed Horatio to a new area, where a mallet-wielding princess attempted to defend her castle from a horde of well-armed warriors. The not-so-distressed damsel joined my party, and I began to get a feel for Pit People‘s strategic side. As it turned out, her blunt melee weapon was perfect for breaking down bad guys’ armor, while Horatio’s makeshift shield protected her from archers’ flying arrows.

As the demo continued, the attacking armies not only grew larger, but they began adding bosses to their ranks. These included a club-brandishing brute that escaped via a space shuttle – provided by the aforementioned bear, of course – and a particularly memorable foe that fired a pair of Uzis while mounted atop a giraffe that floated onto the battlefield via a bouquet of helium balloons.

Fortunately, my forces grew as well. Players can have up to six active party members, or 12 split between co-op partners, among an army of 100. My next recruits included an ax-tossing cyclops and a frosting-flinging cupcake. The one-eyed warrior rounded out my offensive ranks with ranged attacks, while the sugary soldier served as a healer; in case you were wondering, yes, the latter heals teammates by throwing icing at them. As Moreno explained, though, my colorful cast only hinted at the available units. “You recruit different fighters, who are different species. You can get robots… we have stuff like trolls, zombies and vampires. There’s also this weird spider lady that you can actually ride, and she will shoot webs and create walls.”

My demo only scratched the surface of the title’s potential strategic depth. Like all Behemoth entries, Pit People is extremely accessible – positioning fighters and executing orders is a breeze – but those who want to dig a bit deeper can carefully manage their stat-based weapons and gear, tinker with elemental effects, and level up characters to fill specific party roles. The game also packs plenty of content, including a co-op campaign and a player-versus-player arena mode, both of which can be enjoyed locally or online.

Pit People‘s most appealing aspect – especially for fans of The Behemoth’s previous games – may be its off-the-wall, personality-packed presentation. Once again, Co-founder/Art Director/Designer Dan Paladin has worked his 2D hand-drawn magic to deliver a signature art style that’s capable of tickling your funny bone, tugging your heartstrings, and haunting your dreams… sometimes simultaneously.

Pit People doesn’t have a solid release date just yet, but Moreno said that fans should keep their eyes peeled for a closed beta coming this summer.