Gamers out there know that many indie titles tend to copy one another. When one title does well, you'll see numerous other small developers scramble to take what worked but tweak it just enough to avoid being a blatant rip-off. This is why the word "roguelike" has become the staple of dozens upon dozens of modern indie games. Titles like Hades, Spelunky, and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth test players by constantly evolving the dungeons, for example. These games randomize to ensure all runs are different from each other, which means the game itself never feels stale and every death is reason enough to re-enter the battle and try one more time.
With that being said, developer Nullpointer Games has entered the indie landscape with their FPS roguelike title in the form of Into the Pit. This speedy FPS tries to capture many retro-inspired concepts (like Doom's fast shooting or Quake's quick trigger reaction gameplay) and forms them into a roguelike with a truly interesting visual aesthetic and design. Yet, does Into the Pit work as a FPS/roguelike, or is it just another indie game for the pile? Let's examine Into the Pit and see for ourselves!
Jumping Into a Pit is Dangerous…but Kind of Exciting
Into the Pit doesn't waste time in showing what the primary focus of the game is. Players assume the role of a young man who enters a mysterious town in search of a family member and quickly discovers the town is almost entirely missing. After a strange pit opened up, many villagers ended up trapped or missing in a strange demonic-like place. Obviously, as the newcomer to this village, a few surviving townsfolk beg for your help and tell you to enter the pit…
The pit itself is a randomized landscape of various challenges and monsters. Each time you open a portal, you're given different rooms to beat—usually by completing objectives—before moving on deeper into the pit. The setup alone makes Into the Pit feel less like a first-person shooter and more akin to a horror movie plot.
Put Those Arms Up
The concept of this game is simple: enter the pit, arm yourself with magical abilities that fire from your hands, and survive. The gameplay is frenetic, and constantly tests players to be smart and reactive. Players each run will gain choices for various magical powers to use against the strange monsters of the pit. However, like the pit, what magical powers you get are constantly shifted and randomized.
One run you may get magic bolts that scatter like a shotgun blast, or large fireball-like bombs that take several seconds to reach their targets yet unleash massive damage. You have to quickly make do with your random abilities, and upgrade them with randomized perks—like poison shots or extra speed—if you want to survive the run. If you love games like Doom, then you'll no doubt love Into the Pit's gameplay!
Rinse, Repeat, and Retry
We imagine that, by this point, you're already either intrigued by Into the Pit or turned off, and that is completely understandable. It lives and breathes on the concept of games like Dark Souls and Hades, where death is definitely going to occur, and it's meant to challenge you by making you want to try just one more time. This cycle of gameplay actually works, but if you're really growing tired of the roguelike formula, Into the Pit may not change your mind about the genre.
Probably, the only weakness of Into the Pit is the lack of a true reason to do…well, anything. Aside from a simple but ominous cutscene that plays in the very beginning, most of the story is relatively bare-bones. Your job is to save the village, which feels more like a chore than anything else. These villagers help you expand out the town's resources for you—more villagers, more abilities to alter your character when you dive into the pit—but that's about it. You're playing Into the Pit not for a gripping narrative but for the gameplay, and that might turn off some of you.
Into the Pit is a fast-paced FPS that is fun and simple, making it a perfect game to just play when you're itching for that Doom-like challenge...but not for too long. While Into the Pit may not be the next best indie title, we enjoyed our time with it and recommend it to those who love tough roguelike FPS games. Just don't expect it to change your mind on the indie genre or roguelikes in general.
If you feel like giving it a try, you can find Into the Pit on PC (Steam), Xbox One, and Xbox One Series X/S.