Negative Gamer Review: In The Pit (Xbox Indie Games)
Graphicless. That’s a word I invented to help describe the (admittedly easy to describe) game In The Pit. There are no graphics, apart from some text that says ‘œthis space intentionally left blank’ which fades away. In The Pit is a 100% audio only stealth-action game and the developer’s kindly sent us a review copy. You play the role of a monster who lurks around in a pit under a king’s castle.
The game plays out over several fairly short levels. During each level you get a typically amusing, graphicless (see this word is great) and short cut-scene to start things off. You then have to listen to the direction of your prey, sneak around a bit whist homing in on them and finally, typically, devour them. The levels get progressively harder with enemies capable of running away, hitting you or using magic or weapons for ranged attacks.
The graphics are rubbish
This game is played in a way I have never used before. Closing your eyes and just imagining what’s going on, whilst listening and trying to move slowly so as not to alert your prey, really works. At least, it works for me, once I’d hooked up my surround sound.
It is perfectly possible to play the game with just stereo headphones, but I found I struggled to tell when a target was in front or behind me. It was still fun, but I was concentrating far too much on things that should come naturally. This method of play, much like any genre really, won’t be for everyone. I know a number of people who played the trial version of the game and just didn’t seem too impressed. They came away feeling the simple design and limited capability caused the game to fall a touch short of their expectations.
Complex? Not even close.
The game is very simple. It has to be. With zero graphics there is zero menu. You press start to pause and resume or to skip the audio cut-scenes. The game begins with an opportunity to either play a tutorial or hop into the game itself. No menu means no difficulty settings and no loading or saving. It’s a game, much like more arcadey titles, that sees you play it in one sitting.
It’s also simple in its length. And while it’s long enough to give you some satisfaction, and short enough you don’t get board of the (in my opinion; very amusing) hammy dialogue, I would have liked to see more. The range of enemies is very limited and the game really did feel like it was an early test of a much grander title.
Some Other Points Worth Mentioning’¦
- The game, as it stands, may crash before you reach the end. I have been informed by the game’s developer a patch is in the pipeline and is awaiting Microsoft’s approval before being rolled out. Whilst this bug struck me during the very final part of the game and bummed me out somewhat, knowing there is a patch on its way allows me to give the game some leeway. [Update: the patch is now live]
- Pressing back twice exists the game. With no menu apart from a few audio clues, I exited the game accidentally more than once. A simple, clearer switch board style ‘œpress A to exist, press B to… etc.’ could have made this easier.
- The controls are very simple, but don’t forget them. There is a level where you need one specific move, and it took me ages to remember it.
I personally loved the game. It made me laugh out loud at least twice and I really enjoyed the novelty. However, there isn’t much to it and if you don’t like the singular mechanic, you’re not going to like the game. For its bargain price I would at least recommend trying the demo.
You should play this game if’¦
‘¦ you have surround sound and fancy something novel.
A fresh experience with limited content and some small technical hitches.