Games are one of the greatest mediums out there, and just like a great piece of media, every person experiencing it usually has a different reason as to why they enjoy it. With games; some enjoy story-based adventures others want to compete against their fellow gamers in multiplayer. There are those who just want to get a high score and others who want to feel smart when solving complicated puzzle. Then there is a certain group who have to play all games on the hardest difficulty and are desperately seeking a challenge.
You may have heard of a game called Dark Souls or its predecessor Demons Souls, these games brought all of the hardcore gamers out of the woodwork and spawned a few copy cats. Rarely have I encountered a 2D platformer with these mechanics. Death’s Gambit is a new take on the ‘Souls-like’ franchise with a pixel art design.
You play as Sorun who has made a contract with Death, you don’t know why but this contract allows you to resurrect from the dead to face your foes once again, or as many times as you need to beat them. You have special feathers that you can use to heal you much like the Estus flasks or if you die, a feather is dropped where you lay to be collected when you revisit the area.
Sorun is not a particular styled character. You can ‘Create a Soul’ and select how you wish to fight. Soldier, Assassin, Blood Knight, Wizard and Acolyte of Death to name a handful. Each has set stats in the common stat fields such as Vitality, Strength, Endurance etc. Choose the way you want to play; do you want a longer health bar? Or more stamina? The choice is yours. Enemies you face in the game drop shards when you defeat them, they start of easy, but a few levels in you will find any of them could drop you like a rock in a blink of an eye. Not only can the enemy kill you, the world itself is full of pitfalls. Keep a look out for spikes and traps, probably my least favourite things in the game.
Downed enemies drop ‘Shards’ that you can use to upgrade your ‘Soul’ in the stats field, making your fighting style level up where it may be deficient. Talent points also unlock a slew of skills that can help tilt the balance in your favour by giving you boosts for stronger attacks. The fighting in the game is simple but has depth and even the menu system lets you kit out your character with multiple buffs.
There also is a story and it is almost fully voice acted. Sorun has lines, but they appear as text only. A design choice to allow you to personify your character in whichever way you deem. The art style adds an extra layer of quirk but retains just enough detail to allow you to easily distinguish between the enemy types, and there are a lot of them. It doesn’t take long for them to get really hard to beat, some tougher than the bosses at the edges of the world.
The world itself is quite open and gives you multiple paths you can follow, and you will know when you choose the wrong one! Enemy difficulty is probably the greatest downfall and achievement for this game. It will attract a certain player, which sadly is not me but I do appreciate what is here. It may have you throwing your controller after dying on the same mini-boss over and over but once you get this game it could be perfect for you.
Death’s Gambit is one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, it flew under the radar and I am glad I have played it. It is a game for the hardcore player and I will be recommending it to anyone interested in the Souls games. It looks great and has a decent story, but you may not be able to finish it, are you up to the challenge?
- Replay Value