Sometimes you just need a new Roguelike. From the guys who brought us those Sword of the Stars 4X games I didn’t care much for comes something spunky and new. I’d wanted an easier and more colorful version of Teleglitch and Kerberos Studios didn’t let me down. After a plague has vanquished the citizens of Arbuda IV, as the heart-pounding intro explains, you’re sent to cut through level after level of baddies to find The Pit, a mythical place that may harbor the cure.
Like any standard Roguelike, you’re given nil for supply and must wander deeper and deeper through a maze of baddie-filled levels, always mindful of your supplies, scavenged from lockers and loot satchels throughout. You employ a variety of skills, determined partially by which of three classes you select to play as, including trap-finding (don’t want to hit that hidden mine, right?) and lockpicking to access rooms of greater value. Fail to pry open a cabinet, potentially full of wonderful ammo? You may set off an alarm to warn your foes. If you scavenge long and hard enough, you may have just enough ingredients to muster together some food, but only if you can fix that cooker to put them together in the first place. Your opponents are a variety of rats, mutants, and robots and require your constant attention as you maneuver through these halls. It may be daring to rush for the next ladder, but spending a few extra bullets and wandering a little bit more may net you good loot.
Curiously, and the game should really just say this up front, but most of your operation is single-handed. I kept trying to maneuver my character around with the mouse, Teleglitch-style, wondering why this clunky keyboard setup was holding me back. It doesn’t, but the fact that you can’t operate the entire game with a single hand (while strangely requiring the mouse from time to time) holds it back. Thankfully, a thorough, perhaps pedantic tutorial brings you up to speed. All of your movement is based on turns, meaning that leaving your keyboard leaves the game in stasis. Each time you move, the enemy moves with you. When you’re taking your time unlocking a fridge, the enemy has plenty of time to flank you, causing more than a few interruptions. One thing that irritated me about The Pit was its wildly inconsistent art direction that poorly mixes varying degrees of pixel art with hand-drawn Newgrounds-style art. It doesn’t mesh well and while I know this game is trying to be kindly and funny compared to its grim subject matter, it doesn’t sit well.
The Pit is a kinda-fancy redress of some very, very old gameplay that works out pretty well. Despite its premise, I wish Kerberos had pushed the envelope and brought us something a little more modern, maybe in art, maybe in pacing, but just something more.