In The Pit (360) Review

Technically speaking, In the Pit isn’t a video game. That’s because this unusual piece of software, available on Xbox Live’s new “Community Games” download service for amateur game developers, has no video, just game. In fact, the only visual at all is a bit of text informing you “this space intentionally left blank” when you first start the game, possibly to save people the trouble of fussing with the wires behind their televisions, or more accurately, surround sound rigs. Without such a rig, or a halfway decent pair of headphones, the game is unplayable, relying, as it does, solely on you’re ability to navigate via sound. Other than the initial disclaimer, the only visual is a solid black screen, so you might as well just turn the TV off completely. It’s the “green” thing to do, and I’m all about that green, mang.

This is probably one of the only games that can be fully played by a blind person, although you probably shouldn’t bother if one of your ears is bad, since your auditory navigation abilities will be retarded, you retard. More than anything, In the Pit is a rare treat for anyone who has some sort of sound system, and I can pretty well guarantee you’ll be making tweaks to it to make things sound more 3D, effectively turning the game into some sort of sound calibrator – and those things normally cost thousands of dollars. In keeping with the theme of the game, you’d be well advised to darken your gameroom as much as possible. Given this pitch dark setup, annoyance comes from an unexpected source: the LED light on the 360 controller is intolerably bright. You can deal with this problem in one of two ways; grin and bear it, or gouge your eyes out.

For the most part, the game is pushed along by little skits before and after each level, to set up and break down the idea behind each level. These skits are primarily centered on the heartless king, in who’s dank dark dungeon (or “pit”) you play the role of the monster, there to eat any undesirables he tosses in. Eventually events conspire so that the king needs you dead, and the bulk of the game is centered on surviving his various schemes to kill you. The voice acting ranges from so bad they must have been trying to suck to quite good, though the audio quality certainly could have been better, seeing as how this stuff was probably recorded in a dude’s bedroom. The king is a pretty likable character, and while his jokes might not be knee-slap material, he’s generally pretty entertaining, and he has a good sense of timing, so the gags at least don’t fall flat.

When you get down to it, In the Pit is basically a puzzle game, and the solutions all boil down to when and how to move, be it slow creeping, full gallop or diving underwater, which is clumsily mapped to the “joystick click” button (and you can’t remap the controls, since the game, strictly adhering to it’s concept, has no menus). As you can imagine, there are only so many places for such fundamentally limited gameplay to go, so rather than repeat ideas, developer Luvcraft/Studiohunty wisely chose to keep the adventure very brief.

In the Pit’s kiss of death will undoubtedly be it’s somewhat high price-point of 400 Microsoft points, which translates to about five Earth dollars. That is a tad steep, seeing as how you’re basically paying for about a half hour’s worth of dialog, but really, what else are you gonna spend that all-important five-spot on? Baby food? In the Pit might be nothing more than a cheap way for some lazy programmers to make a quick buck without the bother of making graphics, but it’s a pretty fun and unique little game that, if nothing else, can entertain a room full of extremely stoned people. And that’s worth something, right?

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~ by Krooze L-Roy on November 23, 2008.

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