Day 128: In The Pit

Posted: 2011/03/17 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #128, and today’s game is “In The Pit”.

I’ve wanted to play In The Pit from the day I first heard about it, but at first didn’t have a surround sound system. I was enthused to finally getting around to play it in 5.1 surround because, while it can be played with stereo speakers, it plays a whole lot better with a proper surround sound system. This is a game entirely without graphics, you play a blind monster in the bottom of a pit attacking people who fall into it using sound and touch to locate your victims.

First, from the developer (Studio Hunty):

“An “audio-only” stealth action game. Control a horrible monster who lives at the bottom of a dark pit and eats the people who fall in!”

Some people argue this game is innovative, and that’s the camp I’m in. Some will argue its lack of graphics is lazy, but I don’t agree. Should we criticise a game with a starfield background as being lazy because it doesn’t have deeply detailed background graphics (the odd nova is nice, but space is mostly just points of light in every direction). I think some of the criticism stems from people playing the game without surround sound setups, as that makes the game a lot more challenging and less forgiving. Understandably so, too, this game can work in theory with just stereo, but it’s simply not going to be a great experience that way.

Played with a 5.1 surround setup, the game is pretty amazing. As you move closer to your prey the controller gradually rumbles more strongly. It also rumbles when you bump into a wall, and with a stereo setup that might confuse where your prey is, but with a surround setup it’s quite clear as the positional audio removes (nearly) any confusion. Your prey’s noises also get louder or quieter as you get closer/further from them, which helps you know when to strike and attempt to eat them.

At first you’re dealing with unconscious people thrown into the pit by the King who somehow put you here for his amusement, but over time you have to start contending with enemies that move around and try to fumble around and flee in the darkness. As your conquests over the hapless victims mount, eventually you have to deal with adventurers coming to slay you which adds urgency to you hunting them down, before they figure out where you are.

The audio is deliberately cheesy I think, and that works well in a Monty Python-esque sort of way. The cries of your victims and the other audio snippets are also a bit repetitive, which doesn’t work quite as well. But overall, it’s a unique game and worth it both as an interesting experience in its own right and as a showpiece for a surround sound system you want to show off to your friends. Only 80 Microsoft Points (previously 400 MSP).

Tried this already, then please vote below. About to download it? Please come back and vote after trying it.

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  1. Revid Cargian says:

    I’ve been waiting for this for a LONG time, and I had no idea it was even out! Thank you so much for bringing this back to my attention. As soon as I get any Microsoft points, I’m picking this up. =D

    You wouldn’t happen to know how many levels there are in total, would you?

    • Kobun says:

      There are 9 1/2 levels according to the developer.

      Note that the game just had a price drop from 400 points to just 80 points. It’s definitely worth that.

      • I had originally neglected to enter the price, thanks for pointing that out Kobun. I’ve updated the article to mention that.

      • Revid Cargian says:

        9 1/2? Hmm… wonder what that half-level is supposed to be…

        Can’t go wrong for 80 points. Thanks for the info on the levels, Kobun.

  2. This game is astonishing! I had no idea anything like this existed. Between the innovative gameplay and the sense of humour, I love it!

  3. andregurov says:

    Almost 2 years late, but thanks for blogging on this; I had no idea such a game even existed!

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