Into The Pit is a game I remember seeing a while ago on one of the many virtual showcases there have been in the last 18 months or so. It certainly piqued my interest, and as soon as I found out it was being published by Humble Games, I was even more inclined to give it a go. Gladly, it’s available on Game Pass so you too can do so with relative ease.
You begin Into The Pit as you arrive at a desolate and rather eerie village, in search of your cousin Luridia. Her correspondence has ceased and all signs point to something having gone badly wrong. There’s only one way to find her and, you guessed it, the curious altar and glowing red hole in the ground have something to do with it.
Underneath the village dwells a portal into a nightmarish realm, one which you need to explore in an effort to find Luridia. You’ll also come across lost villagers within the dungeon depths, who when rescued will head back home. As it slowly repopulates, different services will become available such as the merchant and enchanter.
However, to begin with you’ll be using your pit key (which looks more like an orb) to open a portal to the depths below. You can see the key maker to craft different types of these, which can also be combined to unlock a variety of different portals. Each will take you to a themed dungeon complete with suitably appropriate chambers and demons, for which the clue is usually in the name of the key.
Before jumping in, you can also select support runes to help you on your quest. These vary widely from applying health buffs to increased loot whilst you are on your run. Each dungeon has four levels containing four chambers. There are six types of motes to collect, and each chamber offers you a choice depending on what you need. After you complete a chamber, you will be offered a choice of one of three upgrades to add to your arsenal.
The symbols are above each door, so for example you may have a choice between a chamber of wealth and a chamber of blood. The first will hold motes that can be spent on crafting keys and support runes, whilst the second offers you the chance to cheat death (acquire an extra life). This is done by collecting the required amount of blood motes as indicated by your health bar, but lives don’t stack so if you cheat death once, you’ll need to get collecting again quickly.
There are a few other, less common, chambers too which contain healing areas and lost villagers. Your choice will depend on what resources you need, and how best to stay alive. This is because the fifth and final level of the dungeon houses the pit guardian. This is usually a fairly straightforward boss battle where the guardian and its many minions will try to stop you reaching the last villager of the dungeon, a chest but most importantly the exit.
Into The Pit is an roguelite shooter, where the only weapons are your hands. The triggers on your Xbox controller control each one, in the usual FPS style. These are chosen at the start of each run into your dungeon, and don’t carry over from one to the next. Likewise, any upgrades you acquire will only stay with you until your run is complete, or you die. However, any loot you find, or motes in this case, will be carried over, hence the roguelike element of Into The Pit.
Upgrades can apply to you in a general defensive sense, or specifically to either hand. There are loads to choose from such as increased damage and range, and they can be improved too. The more motes of luck you collect, the better chance you have of the very best upgrades becoming available. Many will also inflict status changes on your opponents, such as poison or even a curse. Choosing the right arsenal can make or break a run.
There are various layouts to the dungeon chambers, but not so many that you won’t start to learn your way around them after an hour or two. They range from the simple to more labyrinth-like, but each will only last a few minutes at a time. You need to destroy all the keystones in order to escape, collecting the motes and fighting off demons as you go.
What results is a fast paced blend of action and basic tactics which makes Into The Pit a much more enjoyable experience that it may sound on paper. However, you really need to enjoy shooting things in the face because there’s no getting away from the fact that is the main focus of what’s going on here. If you don’t, you may struggle.
If I’m being honest, Into The Pit doesn’t look amazing. In fact, the combination of visuals with the pace of movement takes me back to the noughties PC FPS era. That’s not to say it isn’t fun to play, because it is, and I’m aware it’s a considered choice squarely aimed at creating that retro vibe. However, it feels as if an opportunity has been missed to fully realise the varied roster of monsters and chambers in the game. It also froze on me a couple of times shortly after booting up, which was hopefully just teething troubles.
If running around blasting demons is your thing, there’s a fair amount of replayability with Into The Pit. Between the amount of keys to craft and the number of villagers to save, there are plenty of different dungeons to explore. This is even better if you are a collector as you’ll need to action several runs to gather enough motes to unlock all the gear from the village traders.
It’s worth calling out too, that if you don’t have Game Pass, Into The Pit is only £11.99 which offers plenty of game for your money.
Into The Pit is fast paced, repetitive and ever so slightly tactical. It may seem simple at first, but it’s a real blast with hidden depths (quite literally) that keep it from becoming too much of a grind.
You can grab Into The Pit from the Xbox Store