This article previously appeared on Crossfader
I’ll be the first to admit that I can be just a bit pretentious when it comes to my taste in entertainment. Most of the time, I’ll direct myself towards media that leans into “thinking man” territory, like explorations of psychology or existential philosophy. Other times, I’ll just say “Fuck it” and indulge my basest sensibilities with some stupid, offbeat humor and goofy storytelling. That’s where developer duo The Behemoth has me covered.
Despite only having a handful of titles to their name, the Newgrounds-born team have established themselves as an authority in the indie scene, with each of their games spawning quite the following despite their simplicity. Ultimately, though, that simplicity is just part of the appeal of Tom Fulp and Dan Paladin’s process: throwing all pretense out the window for the sake of creating something that they enjoy, something that’s absurd, easy to digest, and just plain fun. The Behemoth’s latest alliterative accolade, PIT PEOPLE, is no different in this respect.
Nothing says fun like a flying giraffe
PIT PEOPLE wastes no time diving into the absurd: the world is plunged into a state of delicious, technicolor chaos after a giant space bear falls to the planet, a kind of chaos where green blood cries down from the heavens, psychopaths reign supreme, and the ground has become hexagonal tiles. You take the role of Horatio, a humble blueberry farmer that angers a second, significantly more aggressive Space Bear by being the most boring creature in existence. As penance for not dying when told to, the Space Bear crushes your home and your son, providing the drive for your quest: amass a team of weirdos to exact vengeance. Hilarity, carnage ensues.
As with all Behemoth games, PIT PEOPLE represents a new genre for the pair to tackle. The flavor of the month this time is turn-based strategy mixed with RPG elements, plus some minor tweaks to keep the oddball nature of the game consistent. There’s a slew of creatures and classes to diversify your roster, with each unit able to leveled up and modified with the swag you collect. For an added twist, all of the various units you fight against can be captured to join your posse at any point throughout the game, so long as you kill their compatriots first. This makes every little mission you embark on feel as much like a shopping spree as a bloodbath, as running into a unit you’ve never seen before could potentially drive you towards mixing up your strategy to keep it alive and capture it. And in true Behemoth fashion, the list of eccentric enemies to collect are all over the spectrum, from sentient cupcakes that act as healers to Troll damage sponges to rainbow horses that launch their horns like mortars.
In your typical tactical RPG, combat consists of positioning, exploiting weaknesses, and prioritizing certain enemies to stem the tide of battle. However, PIT PEOPLE intentionally obfuscates these basic tenets, letting the player simply move the unit where they may and having the AI handle the rest, haphazardly attacking any random target within their highlighted range. While this decision may seem frustrating to the RPG vets out there, it does serve to streamline and simplify the mechanics for more casual players, ones that have most likely not even been exposed to the genre before. Likewise, the madness matches the tone set by the narrative, livening up the experience to separate it from the doldrum of more traditional RPGs out there. PIT PEOPLE doesn’t care for indulging the player’s inner strategist, opting instead to make you feel like a circus ringleader trying to manage a bunch of questionally-competent lunatics while the ensuing mayhem takes hold.
Presentation has always been The Behemoth’s strong suit, and PIT PEOPLE definitely shows off that flair. Paladin’s cutesy, simplistic art style complements the over-the-top silliness of the scenarios the game dishes out, and gives its outlandish denizens a definite charm in light of their psychopathic tendencies. The humor in PIT PEOPLE likewise feels much more refined and lands more frequently, despite the game being the most “out there” the team has ever produced. This is thanks in no small part to the illustrious YouTuber Stamper, who returns as the narrator to grace the masses with his dulcet tones (as well as supply the babbling gibberish of the rest of the cast). Stamper’s constant interjections and predilection towards dramatic delivery lends itself greatly to the game’s humor, so much so that I don’t think half of the jokes would work nearly as well performed by anyone else.
I honestly have nothing to add to this image
There are a few other gimmicks and gizmos in the gameplay that mix things up further. PIT PEOPLE offers some more unorthodox variations in the types of challenges players can partake in, including options such as stealth and capture-the-flag type diversions that break up the monotony inherent in strategy games. Additionally, the gameplay feels like it operates much better as a single-player entry than the team’s previous work. That’s not to say that the game isn’t enhanced by having a friend jump in with their own team of colorful characters to help you duke it out; multiplayer certainly adds to the fun and fracas of all the encounters. However, unlike its predecessors, PIT PEOPLE feels designed to be just as fulfilling to play solo as it is online.
Despite originating as a means for entertaining over-caffeinated middle schoolers, you have to give credit to Newgrounds.com for churning out some of the most creative artists in the medium. Both Fulp and Paladin consistently put out work that finds mainstream success despite their oddities, and with this latest title, they’ve struck gold yet again. PIT PEOPLE is not only another fun little foray into the absurd, but a wonderful addition to The Behemoth’s catalog, if not their best to date. While the gaming industry has been making a strong push towards innovative systems and highbrow concepts as of late, PIT PEOPLE remains solely concerned with providing a good time, and that’s exactly what it does.
Reviewed on PC