One of the things I really like about Breaking Bad is how it deals with the consequences of violence. A character who suffers multiple gunshot wounds but survives spends months recovering from said injuries. The drama of the action doesn’t stop when the fight scene does; in many ways, it’s only begun. Then we get to see the arduous process of dragging oneself back to good health.
Adopting a similar philosophy, games can introduce engaging, absorbing mechanics that make fights feel meaningful even after the dust has settled. When it provides that sort of framework around combat, The Pit: Infinity truly shines. In general, the game has a solid core of survival-driven fun; the problems occur when you bump up against its particularly rough edges.
- What is The Pit: Infinity? It’s an FPS roguelike with survival horror and RPG elements. The titular Pit is an alien facility rumored to hold the key to fighting a mysterious plague ravaging the colony on Arbuda IV. Someone’s got to go in, and it might as well be you.
- Reviewed On: PC
- Price: $19.99
- Developer: Kerberos Productions, Inc.
- Release Date: November 12, 2019
- Multiplayer: Online Co-Op
♫ I fell in it, the Pit ♫
The most exciting part of The Pit: Infinity is how it challenges you to face adversity. Every moment-to-moment choice you make can have significant consequences down the line if you’re not careful. Even seemingly harmless choices could prove deadly. For example, during one run, I decided to cook up some food to keep a nice reserve for myself. It seems sensible, right?
But then I contracted a disease which, if allowed to develop, can outright kill you and end your run. I rushed to the crafting menu, where I hovered over the Antibiotics, checking the material requirements. As it so happened, I had consumed the resources necessary to create the life-saving medicine when I had my little cookout. Vainly, I searched for the ingredients before I succumbed to the disease.
Although disheartened, I gave the game the benefit of the doubt. During subsequent runs, I refused to craft any items until I truly needed them. My adjustments paid off: the next time the disease afflicted me, I had stockpiled enough supplies to craft some Antibiotics, purging my body of its foreign invaders. This survival element is crucial to enjoying Infinity.
That said, the gunplay is slow and methodical, sometimes frustratingly so (the Engineer’s starting pistol legitimately has a lower rate of fire than a gun out of the Old West). Accordingly, the combat encounters themselves are not quite as noteworthy as the consequences they can bring about. Perhaps your gun suffered some wear and tear in the last round of combat, or maybe you wasted more ammunition than intended on an enemy’s surprise attack. In instances like these, it’s up to you to take stock of your resources, scavenge to compensate for any deficiencies, and keep yourself afloat as you make your way deeper into the mysterious, perilous alien facility.
“Who’s a Smart Monkey?”
As I said, the core mechanics are generally successful. The RPG elements at play are fun, and the various skill checks peppered throughout levels add a layer of planning and strategy, making each character feel distinct and special. However, the game doesn’t exactly make them feel balanced.
Especially early on, the Marine’s superior armaments put him head and shoulders above the Scout and Engineer, particularly the latter. If the Engineer is ambushed early on by a relatively fierce enemy, it can quickly send his run into a death spiral. His starting pistol is atrocious, and even the Boomstick, useful in tight spots, runs out of ammo fast. The Marine, meanwhile, starts with an Autorifle, an Autopistol, and enough Might to pry open the damaged lockers of the early game, all of which will carry him deep into the Pit. It’s fun to use the more technical skills of the Scout and the Engineer, but it would be nice if it felt like more of a worthwhile endeavor.
The game’s other major problems stem from tonal issues and a lack of polish. There are far too many awkward attempts at humor, often nonsensically referential (although it’s nothing approaching the madness in Conglomerate 451). The gameplay establishes a tense, foreboding atmosphere where danger is lurking around any corner, and every choice can become a matter of life and death. Then the intercom starts blathering about baby back ribs, and the verisimilitude, such as it is, becomes mangled.
Granted, the immersiveness of the experience is already undercut by rough audiovisuals and the prevalence of bugs. Perfectly safe doors are highlighted as trapped sometimes, there’s the occasional crash, and then there’s just plain sloppiness — breaching charges that make no sound or visual effect whatsoever. Most of the time, the strength of The Pit: Infinity’s mechanics is sufficient to keep you engaged; but far too often, a bad joke, a bug, or just an enemy clipping through a door will rip you out of the experience.
Zoom Out: Verdict
Shooting/Survival Mechanics - 8/10
RPG Elements - 7/10
Tone/Narrative - 5/10
Audiovisuals - 4/10
The Pit: Infinity features tense, mechanics-driven survival gameplay, and it’s worthy of praise for that. Furthermore, you can bring a couple friends along and take advantage of a wide range of skills in multiplayer. However, the game’s overall quality is held back by an inconsistent approach to tone and storytelling, as well as general messiness in terms of structure and aesthetics.
- Solid gunplay
- Tense survival gameplay
- Engaging RPG and roguelike elements
- Balance issues
- Tonal inconsistencies
- Bugs and subpar audiovisuals