Is the Mind Games Expansion for Sword of the Stars: The Pit Worth 5 Dollars?
Sword of the Stars: The Pit is a really, really difficult game. Its difficulty reaches a point, albeit in a fair manner, that most players will not be able to complete it on the 'Normal' difficulty. In fact, even with the proper skills you'll find that the 'Easy' difficulty offers a bit of a challenge. None of this should really come as a surprise though, especially considering that The Pit is the quintessential rogue-like.
The Pit, well, pits players against the ever increasingly difficult enemies and traps found as they delve deeper and deeper into the dungeon, searching for a cure to a horrible disease. It's all a rather simple concept though the magic behind The Pit comes not in its innovation of the genre, but rather in it's near flawless execution of it. You'd have to look long and hard for a rogue-like which pulls off everything it sets out to achieve with such flying colors.
Considering that The Pit was so beautifully executed, you can easily imagine the excitement that a fan must feel when it was announced that The Pit was getting its first expansion, Mind Games! The developers, Kerberos Productions, informed fans that with this expansion comes content which adds a bit of something to just about every aspect of the game, whether it be the two additional playable characters, the 10 extra floors to be discovered as you delve deeper and deeper, the new 'Psionic' powers, or the mass amount of new loot to be had. They even threw in a new difficulty setting known as 'Seriously?' (for obvious reasons), as though the 'Normal' difficulty isn't hard enough as is...
(A full list of new features can be found here!)
The most significant of these additions come in the form of Psionic powers, the ability to use ones mind to manipulate the world around them. Each class now comes fully equipped with a Psi meter right next to their Health and Hunger meters, allowing the player to cast these powers. While most of these powers are far from original, they are a most welcome addition to your arsenal, especially if you found that the normal combat was a bit monotonous at times. These powers are not limited to combat, however. You got your Fire spell, Shrapnel Storm and many others which are primarily used for combat in some way, but you also have powers such as Manna, which gives you some food, and Duplication, which is pretty self explanatory. In all, there are 28 unique powers spread out through 7 categories.
Psionic powers do a fantastic job of changing things up, but they certainly aren't the only new feature which makes The Pit that much more enjoyable. There are also two new playable characters (the Tarka Ranger and Human Psion, respectively) awaiting players, each sufficiently different from existing characters that they are both worth a try. The Psion, as you'd expect, specializes in Psionic powers and starts with a significant boost to any skills related to those powers while the Ranger is a perfect mix between the Marine and the Engineer, able to hold its own in a fight while also being adapt at hacking computers or picking locks.
Unfortunately, to access these two new characters you're going to have to play the game on the Normal difficulty and this is where a bit of an issue sets in...
Despite The Pit being a game known in large part for its difficulty, there is an audience out there which simply aren't very good at games such as this but enjoy them none-the-less because of the challenge they provide. These players who already struggle on the easiest difficulty are now forced to play the game on an even harder difficulty, meaning that they will most likely never reach a point where the game really opens up and becomes interesting. Now, this wouldn't be such an issue if Kerberos Productions actually told potential buyers that they might be buying an expansion which they might not be able to fully enjoy. It is by no means an unreasonable request that the developer let potential buyers know exactly what they're getting, especially if some of the content is limited to certain difficulty levels.
There is also the small issue that there doesn't seem to be an 'Infinite' mode anywhere. Is it simply not there? Do you need to complete the game before you can unlock it? If so, is unlocking this content also limited to a certain difficulty setting? Again, is it too much to ask that a developer fill people in on exactly what they are getting, and better yet, how to actually access some of the content within their expansion? I don't think so...
All of that being said, the question still remains as to whether or not Mind Games is worthy of your 5 dollars. If you're a player who is more than competent at completing a run through of The Pit then I'd say that it is most definitely worth your money. If you're at the other side of the spectrum, however, a player who isn't too great at The Pit, it might not be worth it. Characters (other than the Psion) start off with all their Psionic skills at a relatively low level, meaning that you'll probably not experience their true potential in that particular area.
When you get right down to it and focus solely on the content that is there, Mind Games will most likely be worth it too most fans of The Pit. There is nothing about the new content in and of itself to complain about and, in fact, adds quite a bit to an already fantastic title.