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Review: Sword of the Stars The Pit

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Title: Sword of the Stars: The Pit

Price: $9.99

System: PC

Release Date: March 8, 2013

Publisher (Developer): Kerberos (Kerberos Productions)

Rating: Not Rated

Kerberos Productions is well known for its Sword of the Stars series. Unfortunately, it’s not for resounding success. The first game, Sword of the Stars saw highly mixed reviews while its sequel, Sword of the Stars II: Lords of Winter, flopped, due to poor design and intensely glitch gameplay, which was only saved by several patches.

Sword of the Stars The Pit has the company stepping into the action RPG realm and all I can say is that the company has made leaps and bounds over its strategy titles. The game’s action, exploration, challenges and overall gameplay has completely taken me by surprise with how fun this game truly is.

Welcome to The Pit

Sword of the Stars The Pit takes place in the Sword of the Stars universe minus all of the ship to ship battles. Your home planet of Arbuda IV has been stricken by a plague causing people to turn into a zombies. You’re tasked to search a cave which houses an ancient Suul’Ka facility (the enemies in the sequel) in the hopes of finding a cure.

The gameplay revolves around action RPG and dungeon crawling gameplay. Players can choose from three different character types: A marine with combat experience, a scout who understands the lay of the dungeon and an engineer who can hack into anything.  Your character can level up and be upgraded with new weapons and armor in typical RPG fashion. To further improve these items through a crafting system in which you take dropped ingredients from enemies to create particular items.

The cave features 30 levels to explore with each one increasing in challenge as you head deeper. Monsters hide in the shadows as you explore to make things more difficult. Combat works in a real-time/turn based manner very similar to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Actions happen in real-time, but each conflict involves a back and forth between you and your opponent.

While fighting off monsters is a concern, so is food. Next to your health bar there is also a food bar. Searching for the cure is essential, but fighting for your own survival becomes just as important as you traverse the facility.

This game will beat you up, but you’ll love every minute of it

For those of you entering The Pit, you can expect a brutal challenge which makes the game absolutely gratifying. Much like FTL: Faster Than Light, you’ll find yourself pushing through increasingly difficult levels with very limited resources. You probably won’t be getting to the 30th floor of The Pit in your first few playthroughs, but each failure becomes a lesson. Each time enemies brought me to my knees I found better ways of surviving each floor, making me want to push forward to see how far I could make it the next time around.

Scavenging becomes essential to making it through each floor. Not only is it essential, but it also brings the classic looting feeling of many good dungeon crawlers like the Diablo series. You’ll be picking locks to find new weapons and more ammo, decrypting computers to find recipes for ingredients or even using your brawn to pry a weapons locker open. Whether it’s a brand new weapon, or simply some ammo or food, scouring each floor is an absolute blast.

The game’s classic 16-bit look brings forth a classic feeling of those old games and offers a slightly whimsical feel to a mostly brutal game. Despite the nostalgic look though, each floor seemed repetitive in its look. It seemed like I was travelling through the same rundown floor after the other. I understand it’s an old, ruined facility, but a little variety to each floor’s detail would have kept me a little more immersed.

Weapon and item upkeep are also mildly frustrating and is really the only thing I don’t like about the challenge. You’re taking a chance every single time you’re going into each floor, and you may not come across the proper equipment to repair your gear. You could eventually find yourself without a weapon even if you switch between them. The same can be said for your armor as well.

Sword of the Stars: The Pit redeems the struggling series

In the end, my problems with the game are truly minuscule. Sword of the Stars The Pit manages to bring back those simple 16-bit action games. Despite a lack of variety in level layout, there’s enough of it to keep you immersed in the game. This is a true and simple dungeon crawler in every sense of the word with enough combat and exploration keep you going. Working to that next floor is gratifying and worth the epic challenge. Say what you will about Kerberos’s Sword of the Stars strategy games, but they’ve managed to make one excellent entry in the action RPG realm.

Site: [Sword of the Stars: The Pit]

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