Death's Gambit

released on Aug 13, 2018

Death's Gambit is a challenging Action-RPG where you explore an alien medieval planet filled with beasts, knights, and horrors.

Climb big creatures that will test your resolve. Fight dangerous monsters that will make you think outside the box.

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For a game that brands itself as a h4rDc0R3 punishing Souls-like, complete with its own death counter on boss title screens, it sure is not really that difficult at all. Death likes to talk about how often I'm gonna die and all this edgy stuff but I never died more than twice to a boss. So some narrative dissonance there for sure.
And for a 2D pixel game it sure does have performance issues, bugs, and texture pop-in. I can only imagine how fucky it was at launch before they revamped the whole thing. Still though, these issues are fairly minor and won't impede anyone's enjoyment.
Bitching aside, this game is all right. I'd recommend it if you're looking for a decent Castlevania-like and already played its' superior contemporaries like Blasphemous and Ender Lillies.
I found the writing to be kind of bad. It seems to have an interesting world in some regards, but it's brought down by the fact that the game doesn't take itself seriously enough and frequently throws unfunny dialogue at the player. The map is a bit linear compared to most games like this and traversal can be a pain due to the lack of shortcuts. They even give you a horse for the really long stretches, as if they're aware they designed a slog of a map.
I'm not really as down on this as I may seem. The combat is OK. There's some fun to be had here for sure. My favorite part is the build variety and the many classes the game offers you. I'm always a big proponent of classes in combat-heavy RPGs and it's cool that they let you try them out before you commit to anything.
This is also this studio's first game and I applaud them for fixing a lot of the issues this had at launch and improving on it with extra content at no cost to the player. Death's Gambit certainly has a degree of charm to it and I would check out whatever this studio does next.

Fun metroidvania with good enemies and boss fights. The story was fun, too, but it crashed on me several times and I don’t think I fully understood the upgrading system.

I've got a lot of mixed feelings on this game but for now I'll leave it as it's an ok game.

Death's Gambit is a great looking game that is a cross between a metroidvania and Dark Souls. There wasn't enough here to pull me through the game, so I ended up dropping it.
Death's Gambit looks great. The pixel art is well done, the enemy designs are cool, and the environments are varied and fairly awesome looking. Why is the main character green in game when he isn't in the key art?
Structurally, Death's Gambit is a hub area with spokes leading into different areas, gated by abilities you unlock. It works, but I found navigation and remembering where I needed to go to be very challenging with no map (one is apparently added in the updated version of the game, but I didn't play that!). Exploration in this game was fairly frustrating in general. Many areas are multi-level, with traversal dependent on platforming challenges or small climbing/navigation puzzles, but nothing is quite distinct enough to have a clear idea of where you are at any given time, so it feels like wandering around randomly.
Combat is floaty and unresponsive, but I got used to it after a bit of play. There are a number of different weapons in the game and they all play differently. I had fun with a few of the bosses, but overall I wasn't super impressed with the gameplay. Many of the boss attacks are poorly telegraphed or exploit the awkward controls to make things more difficult than they should be.
Character advancement is unsatisfying, unfortunately. There is a skilltree you can level up, but nothing in it really appealed to me or worked towards a build of any kind. It feels like you are just picking some random bonuses. Improving weapons is just a linear path (a bit like Demon's Souls), but i never felt much connection to my weapon.
I abandoned this game mainly out of frustration with the level design and combat. I just didn't find a lot that was very engaging about it.
I have heard that the Afterlife update has fixed many of the problems I had with the game, so I may go back to check it out at some point.

Ich bin hin und her gerissen.
Auf der einen Seite ist es die nur angedeutete belanglose Story, in die man hunderte Dinge interpretieren kann, das Spiel selbst aber nicht wirklich was erzählt, wie man es von Dark Souls kennt.
Absolut nicht mein Fall.
Frag 10 DS Fans nach der Story und du hörst 10 verschiedene und nicht eine ist geil.
Der Soundtrack ist überraschend stark, gerade an den richtigen Stellen.
Das Gameplay funktioniert, nichts ist bahnbrechend.
Das Skillen ist eintönig. Während bei DS selbst Stärkewaffen in der Regel ein 2. Attribut in gewisser Höhe benötigen, ist dies hier nicht der Fall. Warum also nicht alles auf Stärke und Ausdauer verteilen?
Konnte mir das Spiel auch nicht sagen, daher 80 auf Stärke und durchs Spiel rennen.
Das Leveln hört hier nie auf, auch am Ende brauchte man nur 4 Gegner für ein Level, das ist wirklich positiv.
Es gibt auch kein Soft oder Hardcap auf den Attributen.
Alles in allem ein nettes eher kurzes Spiel.

Previously, I'd have given this game 1.5/5 at best, there was the vision and potential of something that could have been really good, but everything felt extremely clunky, incomplete and half assed. With the afterlife expansion (which is free by the way), it feels like they remade the entire game from scratch. Everything feels way more polished, way more complete, way more fun overall. New areas, new weapons, new bosses, reworked mechanics, it has a lot of welcome additions that the main game seemed to be desperately missing.
It's still not really a perfect game by any means, and there are frustrating parts that kind of suck the fun out of your experience
(-some bosses are complete pushovers and jokes if you parry, while some other bosses feel needlessly tanky or gimmicky
-Finnesse weapons do laughable damage, even at lategame, which makes somewhat of a sense as it seems like a sensible drawback to make faster weapons weaker, yet how weak they feel just..makes boss combat especially incredibly unsatisfying, and basically forces you to constantly rely on parrying and nothing else to do noticeable damage
-upgrading your items feels way more worth the trouble than the previous version, but upgrade materials are still annoying to get, and the game's option of scrapping weapons and armor to get upgrade materials doesn't really work as, no matter how high level of an item you scrap, no matter how rare or special it is, from your shittiest item to your mightiest, any item you scrap will only give you a single upgrade material, while upgrading a single item to its full capacity can take up to 50 of these materials
-a lot of the cool weapons you get early game will have way too high of a stat cost for you to use them, meaning you spend a large amount of the game trying to get to the level where you can finally use that cool item you found way back at the start, though this may also depend on the class you choose)
Even with its flaws, the game manages to be so much better than what it was, it's voice acting is solid, writing is pretty decent and has a lot of funny stuff here and there, and the art feels nice to look at. I'd say if you gave this game a shot back in the day but gave up on it, give it a try again, you may be pleasantly surprised.