Take a look at our video for the expansion to the latest Sword of the Stars game. This time the expansion offers two new classes and lots of extras in our Sword of the Stars The Pit: Mind Games review.
Today we’re taking a look at Kerberos Productions Sword of the Stars The Pit: Mind Games expansion, which offers some new delights for fans of the series – and yet at the same time – despite some accessible features being added to this rogue like experience, the game still wants to kill you at every step of the way, making it quite the challenge to see the extra content added. But as they say, it’s not the destination – in this case an extra 10 levels added to the core game – but the journey; and that’s what Mind Games dances with as players are given a little more choice in how they attempt to tackle the Pit!
From the offset, Mind Games offers two new preset characters to add to the original three which can only be used on Normal difficulty or upwards. The female Ranger is an amalgamation of all three classes presenting a more rounded character and the Psion has boosted stats in the new addition of Psionic Powers stats. What’s neat is that any of the classes can use the Psionic powers to add to their arsenal, but due to their disadvantaged stats compared to the Psion class, it does take considerable time to reap the rewards. From playing all classes, the Psion is quite the challenge early on in the adventure, with only one accessible psion based offensive move to rely on, but becomes a more tenacious fighter as he levels up around level 15 – depending on how skill points have been distributed. Players can net skill points by performing psionic moves, and this adds to their cap of 100 to strive for.
The play style of the Psion based approach is different to the other characters in that there’s a bit of management of the characters powers. There are hotkeys available, but perhaps too few to cover them all, so players have to either enter a menu to perform non hotkey moves which is a bit of a shame and takes you out of the game a little.
So, messing with the delights of the Psion Class, the game offers some new thrills for newcomers to enter the fray. Purists can look away now! Mind Games has done the unthinkable and offered a lifeline to those struggling. Now players can bank XP and items of a limited number into containers every five levels up to 20. Once these plateaus have been reached, any new game can begin at these checkpoints – and make use of the items in the containers. In a way, this does take away some of the edge the game especially as the temptation to do level one to five runs to build up food and ammo is there for the taking. It also means players can sneak in with the Engineer, score the loot and save it for a lesser class like the Marine who needs it early on.
Aside from making radical changes to the core game – which are optional extras – there’s lots of new items and some additional enemies to be found whilst exploring to add a bit more discovery for those familiar with the source game. For anyone starting new, well it won’t make much of difference, only that there’s more stuff to play with.
And here we come to the crux of the expansion in that there are 10 additional levels added beyond the standard 30, except players will have to battle their way through those first before they can get to see them. Seasoned vets will have no troubles, but new players might not ever get to see them! To make up for this perhaps, there are some new open plan areas called Biospheres which house some powerful enemies and nowhere to hide. These areas are ammo guzzlers but great for getting resources. Luckily, they can be skipped entirely as they are death magnets for those who venture too far unprepared.
Sword of the Stars The Pit Mind Games is one of those simple games that can eat away the hours due to engrossing and tense gameplay that’s sadly absent from more mainstream games. So it’s great that the tradition of being punished is being kept here and not pandering to the status Quo. In a way, this is the games greatest asset but also its biggest downfall depending on how you look at it. On one hand, there’s this neat and explorable adventure on offer that doesn’t take prisoners and provides some solid randomized gameplay that can be replayed over and over. On the other, there’s a frustrating game here that requires much time investment and learning of mistakes, and even then, if the game wants you dead, then those are the breaks – start again.
Depending on what sort of gamer you are, you’ll either love or hate the hair pulling offering here, but the reality is, the game requires some respect as it truly makes a welcome change from easy street. If you’re starting out new, then having two new classes to choose from is great – although the Psion is perhaps reserved for more advanced players. Anyone else will no doubt already be playing this, and if not, then you should be as the Mind Games offers an excellent set of new skills to mess around with making the game feel fresh.
Sword of the Stars The Pit: Mind Games is addicting punishing gaming that’s not for everyone but well pleasing for those who “get it”. Go check it out now.
Score 8/10 – Review by Robert Cram