REVIEW: ‘Into The Pit’ Makes Oldschool FPS New, Mostly (XSX)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Into The Pit - But Why Tho

Into The Pit is a magic-based FPS roguelike from developer Nullpointer Games and publisher Humble Games. In the vein of classics like Doom and Heretic, Into the Pit sends the player into dungeon after dungeon of hellish monsters in all of their low-poly glory. You’re lured to a mysterious town by a cousin to find dark magic has taken hold, and the villagers and their Alderman are all missing.

I had never really considered the possibility that among the indie game trend of revisiting old, nostalgic game types, a game that looks and plays a lot like a PS1 title could innovate on the essentially extinct classic FPS archetype yet Into The Pit absolutely does. Of course, it has your basics: only your hands are visible, and the graphics are basically low-resolution pixels with 3D modeled enemies. But it also has magic instead of guns and a roguelike system that totally changes the vibe and makes it a bit more okay when there are no BFGs and explosions.

These differences are Into The Pit’s biggest strengths and its biggest weaknesses. The game feels fresh because each dive into the pit begins by selecting a left and right arm power from a random set of three options. The options might be short, medium, or long-range as well as have more or less power and shorter or longer recharge times. There’s also a body power that might increase health, decrease damage, or other buffs. You can select one new power or upgrade after every chamber you complete. It’s a fun innovation, but at the same time, the upgrades and powers don’t always feel much different from one another, leaving the system somewhat less exciting than the classic FPS system of finding new and increasingly powerful weapons hidden throughout levels. The progression feels more incremental, yet the consistency of receiving upgrades also makes you feel like you’re progressing fast at the same time.

Another example of this contradiction comes from the graphics themselves. At first, I was wowed by how the game took a graphical style that is really never used anymore for a reason, with low-resolution polygons and highly pixilated textures, and made it feel new. But as I played, this really only felt true some of the time. In the pit itself, absolutely, the graphics feel sharp. In the village, though, I can barely see a thing with how dark and weirdly colored everything is. It feels intentional like there’s a mist or something, but it just ends up obscuring the visuals to the point where I just rush to get out of there as quickly as possible and hope I don’t get lost between runs.

Where Into The Pit perhaps shines brightest is in its low barrier to entry. Unlike classic FPS games where you’re just dumped into a giant map, maybe with vague instructions if you’re lucky, and sent off to figure your way out, Into The Pit is comprised of simple one-room dungeons. Essentially, as you drop into the pit to begin a run, you must complete four chambers to light alters and move to the next layer of the pit. There are four sets of two rooms each to choose from, each randomly generated. You must pick one of the two rooms from each pair to light an alter.

Some rooms you may strategically pick because they have a healing pool or a lost villager in them. You may also pick them based on which type of the six currencies that room holds, motes of different elements, which can later be used to unlock different dungeon modifying runes or keys to all new dungeons. Or, in the case of one currency, they allow you to be revived a certain amount of health upon death, with an increasing number required for each revival. Within the levels themselves, your job is to simply interact with a set number of keystones, mowing down demons who get in your way.

This system helps make the game less confusing, easier to jump in and out of in short sessions, and forgiving, as you can always quit and try again later without having to reorient yourself to where you were in a level. This is not to say that old FPS styles may no longer have a place in our game catalogs, but I appreciate the roguelike approach because it makes this game style more accessible to new players who may now want to check out old Doom games on Game Pass as well.

I only wish the music was as rocking as the old games. There are a few brief moments of it in Into The Pit, but it’s generally pretty docile. I also struggled with the turning sensitivity because it was always either too fast to hit the action buttons or too slow to see enemies coming my way at the same time.

Into The Pit is a good way to reintroduce a genre one could have assumed a relic of the past. It’s a tad slowly paced and can get repetitive as any roguelike might, but it’s a strong innovation on a tried and true genre.

Into The Pit is available now on Xbox via Game Pass and PC via Steam.


Into The Pit
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

Into The Pit is a good way to reintroduce a genre one could have assumed a relic of the past. It’s a tad slowly paced and can get repetitive as any roguelike might, but it’s a strong innovation on a tried and true genre.