I’m a simple man. While I appreciate all the fancy bells and whistles that games have these days – and there’s no denying that, really, the general quality of titles is excellent – I’ll always be a sucker for a title that throws back to a simpler time, when all we had to worry about was knowing which button would see our foes explode in a shower of red pixels. Demon Pit is feeling that vibe too, itself only concerned with one thing; fast, frenetic arena gunplay. And, in my humble opinion, it does a fantastic job of it.
Now granted, you could make the argument that it strips things back a little too far. Other than staples such as options or a leaderboard, the only item available on the title menu reads simply ‘Begin’. A brief text window gives us all the story you’ll ever need – we’re being punished for our sins in life by being forced to run the Demon Pit over and over, seeing how long we can last – and then we’re off. Some players may feel a little short changed by this. But once that action starts any qualms about that soon disappear.
The smooth, ultra fast movement is the first thing we notice. I’m not much of a frame counter guy, but Demon Pit feels like it’s running at about a thousand frames a second, smooth and responsive as it is. Our avatar sprints about the pit at some speed too – you’ll not want for a sprint button, that’s for sure. We also have access to a grappling hook, used to fling us across the pit to one of the dozen or so highlighted points. The pit itself is a high walled square of a decent size (mostly) that will take about 20 seconds to familiarise yourself with. Not that you’ll have that time…
Almost instantly the monsters start spawning in, making a beeline for you. A large portion of the time you’ll spend sprinting backwards while firing into the crowd with whatever weapon you have on hand at the time. Early foes are fairly easy to dispatch, though the sheer numbers of them can easily catch you off guard, especially if you are foolish enough to stand still for a second. Clearing out a wave will give you a brief respite to catch your breath before yet more powerful enemies come pouring your way. Each wave also spawns in new weapons for you to pick up too, though ammo is scarce for the more impactful ones.
The Pit itself will work against you too. After each wave the layout will alter to present a new hazard or obstacle on top of the swarm of demons looking to gut you. This is where the grapple hook comes into it’s own. When there are lasers moving around the Pit, while axe wielding demons charge at you alongside gun-toting abominations and floating skulls try to chomp on your face, using the hook to quickly zip to the other side of the arena is an essential tactic. Sometimes the floor will sink into the lava almost entirely, forcing you to try to stay airborne, zipping from point to point while still shooting and dodging enemies. It’s hectic, it’s chaotic, but man is it a lot of fun.
Surviving past wave ten will see the health pickups dotted around the map respawn, but other than that you’re on your own. No perks, no customisable loadouts or microtransaction bollocks. Just you, your guns and the will to survive another round. It’s simple, but effective, and shows that if you have a solid core feel to the gameplay then you don’t really need much else. The difficulty ramps up quickly too; I struggled to get near to wave 20 with any consistency, though there is always that one more go feel.
I love the retro styled aesthetics too. The low poly models – complete with pixelated textures – look great, the Pit is bathed in a red/orange light that is reminiscent of the classic Quake engine and the music is just excellent. While not everyone’s cup of tea, I love that this looks and feels as though it was ripped straight from the late 90’s.
Demon Pit hit me right in the nostalgia. The classic feel of the 90’s arena shooters is perfectly represented here, with fast, frenetic action that won’t let you rest, at least until you’re dead. It won’t be for everyone, and some may feel a little short changed by the fact that the one mode is all you get. But the replayability of that mode will keep Demon Pit installed on your hard drive for some time to come.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.