With renewed determination, I click “Begin” and spawn into Demon Pit’s hellish arena yet again. Raw power surges in me as the first few demons – weak flying skulls – wind their way towards me. I grip my mouse and fire my first few pistol shots, and thus begins another story of gunfire, shotgun shells, bloody gibs, grapple jumps, last-second dodges, and miserable defeat.
But this time, I know I’ll do better. I’ll break my prior high score – I’ll carve out a spot on the leaderboard. And I won’t stop – I’ll keep going and going, waves of demons encircling my head, unable to quit as I chase greater and greater efficiency. Thus I become damned with these demons in an endless wave-based dance.
Demon Pit is a game set in a small arena. Trapped here, you must fight off wave after wave of demons until you succumb to their endless pursuit. Some run at you. Some fly. Many shoot. All of them share a primal need to eviscerate you. Thankfully, you’ve got some weapons and tricks of your own. You shoot, strafe, and grapple your way to a new high score with every play. It’s a simple premise with a tactical depth that makes for a candy-bite FPS experience.
Weapon and Health Tactics in Demon Pit
Demon Pit’s tactics can be broken into thirds: weapon selection, health management, and traversal. Master these three gameplay elements and you’ll have Demon Pit in your pocket.
Weapon selection tactics emerge the more you encounter new enemy types. In Wave 1, you spawn with a pistol and face four flying skull enemies. These are the easiest to put down – a couple of shots from your pistol shatters them. By Wave 3, skeleton knights and a more advanced flying skull enemy have joined the demon ranks. By this point, you’ll be able to pick up a double-barreled shotgun. This works well on the skeleton knights but is wasteful on the basic flying skulls. Later you’ll pick up weapons like a grenade launcher or a flamethrower. These bad boys take care of large groups very nicely.
You’ll keep figuring out which weapon is best to use on which enemy. The key to progressing through waves is proper resource management. Save shotgun shells for the harder enemies. Only use the grenade launcher when you’re being pressed by a large group. If you’re simply running in circles from a troop of enemies who cannot shoot at you, pick them off with the pistol. It’s like a puzzle, matching weapons and enemies such that you pick them off as efficiently as you can.
Keep an eye on your health, too. It depletes quickly if you aren’t careful. There are four health packs in the arena. To reach them you grapple up onto one of four balconies on each of the arena’s walls. These health packs respawn every 10 waves and restore 20 points. When I first started playing, I’d lose my health quickly and pick up the health packs soon and in quick succession. Now I typically don’t use one until at least the sixth wave. Before the tenth wave – when they will respawn – I’m sure to pick up as many as I need. Never wantonly grab health. Manage when you pick it up as closely as you manage your weapon use.
Tricky Traversal in Demon Pit
The other third of Demon Pit’s gameplay – traversal – is the trickiest. You have a grapple ability that attaches and pulls you towards either floating, yellow orbs or transparent columns on the ground. Reminiscent of the grapple hook mod for Quake II, it's a key part of the gameplay.
At one point, the ground opens up, revealing lava beneath. Your only respite comes from a central platform with raised gates around it. You scramble to grapple yourself inside of it and continue fighting. Laser wires appear next, some moving, over which you must grapple. During another wave, all that remains of the arena are four floating platforms with grapple points around them. Thus, you must vicariously transport yourself between them while firing behind you at a hoard of flying enemies in pursuit. You can also grapple quickly between two successive points if you line up with them in a row.
Traversal is very difficult to balance alongside the constant moving and shooting, but it also has loads of tactical depth. Pull off the right jumping, strafing, and grappling, and you can unlock new levels of success in Demon Pit. If you’re an FPS strafe-jump expert, you should handle it no problem. Anyone else will have quite a few lessons in trial-and-error before adapting.
Demon Pit's hellish torments
As fun as its tactics are to grapple with, and as much as Demon Pit can hook you, it also isn’t a deeply engaging experience. Think of it like a candy bar old-school FPS experience. It’s fun-sized and good for a quick bite. By being a wave-based arena shooter, Demon Pit captures an old-school FPS feel, just on a much more compact level.
I have a few other minor quibbles. You can’t configure any keys beyond the four movement keys. If you typically game on the PC as a southpaw, you may want to edit the jump key. You may also want to reassign the keys for cycling weapons. It's slightly inconvenient that you can't.
The game’s performance could also be a little smoother given its classic-graphics style. At times the framerate dipped. This could be as much to do with my rig as the game itself, but I do greatly exceed the game's basic minimum requirements as listed on Steam. Plus, there’s a small glitch concerning the pause menu. After I unpause the game, my mouse cursor appears on screen until I click (shoot) again. These performance issues make what otherwise is a fast-paced arena shooter feel very rough.
Demon Pit Review | Fun-Size FPS Candy
The further you go into the Demon Pit, the more you'll want to play. As you progress further into the waves your confidence builds. If I give it one more try, you think, I could make it to the next one. You then advance through the earlier waves much more efficiently such that they are less of a time and energy commitment. And so you are hooked. Before long you might become a master of the waves and earn an enviable spot on the leaderboard, the only meta-measure of your accomplishment. Even when I felt fatigued by Demon Pit’s onslaught, it was hard to quit.
It’s not perfect, and at best Demon Pit is FPS candy. But candy is good, right? If you like old-school FPS games and wouldn’t mind a quick bite, check out Demon Pit. It isn’t the most amazing retro shooter ever, but it’s fun for a spin and a good weekend hook. Just be careful you don’t get too addicted, else you might become damned like me.
If you’ll excuse me, I have to go beat my last high score. But this is the last time – I promise.
TechRaptor covered Demon Pit on PC via Steam using a code provided by the publisher.
- A Simple, Accessible Premise
- Enjoyable Tactical Depth
- Old-school FPS Action
- It's a Wave-based Arena Game, So It's Not a Deeply Engaging Experience
- Some Minor Performance Issues
- You Can't Rebind All The Controls