Sword of the Stars is a space-based RTS with delusions of 4X grandeur, and a sequel that stalled badly at the starting blocks. Sword of the Stars: The Pit is a roguelike spawned from the same universe as the aforementioned strategy games… Strange, no?
As strange as a retro-looking, roguelike spin-off to a thoroughly-modern RTS franchise may be, the only thing that really matters is – Is it The Pit, or The Pits?
The Pit brings to mind the recent, highly-acclaimed, indie roguelike Dungeons of Dredmor in every way except genre and tone. Dungeons of Dredmor is irreverent fantasy whereas The Pit is science fiction that isn’t sure how seriously is wants to take itself.
Otherwise, though, both have a similarly exaggerated, slightly-cartoonish look to the visuals, both prominently feature crafting of inscrutable items, and both are turn-based.
Humour is an odd thing in games – many try and so very, very few achieve anything close to genuine comedy. The Pit exists in the no-man’s land between humour and seriousness – The tutorial narration is awfully serious and completely without irony, but many of the tooltips, items and in-your-face achievement descriptions are obviously meant to be humorous. Then there are the poorly-delivered one-liners which simply have to be a joke, but are far too terrible to work.
As with Dungeons of Dredmor your progression through the game is going to be strictly defined by luck and little else. There is no tactic to the combat, levelling skills makes only the slightest difference to your success at accessing various lockers and workbenches, and crafting is so entwined to the RNG, and so stifled by the size of your inventory, that there’s little chance you’ll ever make much use of it.
Each run will last approximately the same amount of time until you get to approximately the same place, having crafted approximately the same number of items, before you inevitably die. Death isn’t the issue – it’s the lack of progress or learning between the deaths that makes the game feel like so much wasted time.
Sword of the Stars: The Pit is simply a roguelike by numbers. It’s not bad, but it’s uninspired, and may soon start to feel like a chore. If you’ve played Dungeons of Dredmor to death, this might fill some of that same void, but DoomRL is a better turn-based sci-fi roguelike that isn’t so throttled by tightly-defined progression and impenetrable crafting.