Death’s Gambit first impressions
I picked up Death’s Gambit from the Xbox Games Pass for PC to see what it’s all about. What got my attention first was the publisher of the game, Adult Swim Games. Death’s Gambit was developed by a small team of five people over at White Rabbit studios.
Choose your champion
Before you jump straight into battle, you have to make a tough choice between all the different character options. Before I tell you who I sided with, here are the different classes you can play in Death’s Gambit:
Trained by the military of Vados. Good all-round fighter. Blocking attacks gives you soul energy to use for abilities.
Quick and nimble fighter that favors close range combat. Dodging attacks gives you soul energy to use for abilities.
|Blood Knight |
Reckless warrior that rewards aggressive combat styles. You can regain health that was recently lost if you quickly retaliate.
You fight with complex ranged magic. Using a healing phoenix feather will give you soul energy to use for abilities.
You worked your way up the chain of lords. An agent of royalty will visit you to sell unique items. Using items gives you soul energy to use for abilities.
A master of arms. You can equip any weapon and shield as long as you have half of the stats required. Parrying gives you soul energy to use for abilities.
|Acolyte of Death|
You worship Death, letting you restore broken Death Idols. These can be used to rest and save. Killing enemies gives you soul energy to use for abilities.
Let the journey commence
I chose the Blood Knight as he reminded me of the character in Bloodborne. I tend to choose more aggressive play styles, so I figured I would get along with the Blood Knight. Similar to Bloodborne, after you take damage, instead of retreating, you retaliate to get some of your health back.
The game starts off with a strong narrative, introducing you to Death right off the bat. Who doesn’t want to meet Death in the first 2 minutes of a game? You have a casual chat with Death and then you part ways as you jump on your steed and head into the sunset. I always enjoy the dynamic of having a mount in a 2D game. It creates the sense that there is a huge world out there waiting to be explored.
The studio also did a great job with their animations. From getting onto your mount to casting your special ability it all looks fantastic. You can see the effort that went into every hand crafted animation.
Deaths Gambit has some moves up its sleeve
Having played and finished multiple souls-like games, including Dark Souls 1, it is clear that Death’s Gambit took some inspiration from those titles. Where White Rabbit Studios went the extra mile was with the rest of the combat system, by adding some rather interesting systems into the game. They have designed the game’s mechanics in such a way that they do not feel hard to use or to remember. Not having to remember a 100 different combos takes a huge cognitive load off the player, making it easier to return to the game.
When blocking, your character will turtle behind his shield. This is useful when approaching those pesky archers or blocking a huge axe swing. However, playing as the Blood Knight I don’t think my shield will see too much use throughout the game, but I am sure it will come in handy.
A parry happens when you attack as soon as your enemy starts their attack. This will disrupt their attack and stun the enemy, giving you a chance to gloriously finish them off.
If you encounter characters with shields that block your attacks, a well timed kick breaks their defensive stance, opening up an opportunity for you to strike them down.
During combat, your character has access to special abilities. These abilities can be used when you spend your soul energy, and you generate soul energy in active combat. These abilities deal high damage so be sure to keep an eye on your soul energy. The two special abilities that I had at my disposal were Flame Blitz and Unyielding Strike.
This is Death’s Gambit’s currency. Every enemy you slay will give you a certain amount of shards. The only way you can level up your character’s stats is by spending shards.
Let’s talk about what happens when you die in this game. You have plumes in the game, plumes are like a healing potion with charges. Once you have used all the charges to heal your character your plumes are depleted and you will have to rest at your nearest Death Idol to restore the plume’s uses. Death Idol’s are like checkpoints throughout the game, be sure to interact with them as your journey continues. When you die in combat, your character will drop one charge of your plume at the location of your death. Your lost plume can be picked up if you make it to the same location without dying again. If you lose all your plumes, you can reclaim them at a Death Idol at the cost of shards.
Deaths Gambit gives you enough time to get used to the game’s combat system. You will quickly feel like a killing machine, and shortly after you will face the first boss, The Owlking. I absolutely love the characters in this game and how well they have been created with the Owlking being no exception. The Owlking, in terms of difficulty was no match for some of the boss fights in Wolcen. Although the fight was easy, the boss had some interesting moves up his sleeve but nothing special. The Owlking fight is a humble introduction to boss fights and based on my experience I think the difficulty balance is perfect.
What a great game it has been thus far, I am excited to see where the journey takes me.