Having the West recognize the talents of how great and hard games from Software’s creations are, many creators have attempted to take a piece of this enormous pie of possibilities and contribute to the growth of the soulslike genre. Both “Salt and Sanctuary” and “Titan Souls,” which have relatively simplified gameplay, garnered favourable reviews. Among these treasures is “Death’s Gambit”, a simple 2D soulslike.
White Rabbit Studio’s creation places us in the shoes of Sorun, a teenage warrior whose regiment is annihilated in a horrific fight. He clings to the dying breaths of his steadily fading existence, terrified by his impending doom. Then Death appears before his eyes and as the godfather once said, “An offer he cannot refuse”. He gains eternal life in return for slaying the Immortals and toppling Caer Siorai’s fortress. The boy accepts the otherworldly creature’s terms, not thinking that the new experience will etch his darkest memories.
Sorun sets out to conquer a world whose corridors intersect, forming a vast network of linked boats. Powerful and hard opponents await us in the labyrinth’s nooks and crannies. They score mercilessly on the smallest lapse, ferociously defending the path to the major goal. Despite the fact that there will be minor obstacles throughout the dungeons, the essence of gameplay in “Death’s Gambit” is boss fights. When it came to constructing opponents, the designers showed amazing inventiveness. From massive, screen-filling colossi reminiscent of the iconic monsters from “Shadow of the Colossus,” to a rather annoying snow monstrosity we have to fight on a tilting platform, to a demonic lord of illusions who will distort our perception and we’ll need to be damaged with words to injure him, yes that’s not a joke it’s literally how you beat the almighty entity of chaos. Each boss you encounter will necessitate a unique technique, with your eyes in the back of your head and accurate, swift movement. We shall be inundated with blood if we are unable to eliminate the wave of minions. We’ll overestimate the ledge jump, and the lightning will deplete our health bar completely. And, because it is futile to seek elegance here, and the main character moves like a block in spots, we will frequently die to our principal’s glee.
Fortunately, unlike in the other soulslike games, our death does not result in the loss of accumulated souls we have gathered. Instead, we loose one of the phoenix feathers. We can retrieve them by returning back to the spot we previously died at or by sacrificing some of our souls. We may also raise the hero’s attack by up to 100% by placing them at the foot of the altar of Death which isn’t a bad choice as most players who are confident in their skills do this. Managing your feathers is very important of course as each sort of feather can improve the hero’s other statistics after usage – strength, health, or stamina bar.
Death’s Gambit has surprises around every corner. It provides fresh answers and mechanisms till the very end, challenging the player to continually study and understand the mysteries that dominate this deteriorating universe. The game never slows down and maintains an even, challenging level from the start until the last boss encounter. The pop-up death counter informs the player of how much they lose in particular encounters, motivating them to adapt strategies and improve their numbers. Death itself becomes a narrative device. Death at a given location and time is accompanied with an additional scenario, implying that even an exceptional player who is performing well in the game may not be aware of all parts of the journey.
NPCs from all over the world will come to our rescue. Some will supply us with useful advice, while others will teach us new abilities. Our acts, however, will have an effect on them. If we bring the disease to the beginning point, NPCs will become sick and will not be able to recover unless we heal them. Death can strike at any time.
Despite its compelling gameplay and interesting, gloomy atmosphere, the game has a few drawbacks. Some water has travelled through the river since its introduction, but it still manages to punish the player with unpleasant flaws that put his patience to the test. Because how else can we feel when the game refuses to load graphics, traps foes in an infinite cycle of dying and resurrecting, or shamelessly hangs when we perform a special move? Not to mention the unappealing menu, which is unreadable and of low quality.
If you’re searching for a solid 2D hack with a handful of twists and surprises, and you’re familiar with soulslike games, “Death’s Gambit” is an excellent place to start. Numerous mysteries, puzzles, and the option of rematching enemies in heroic mode ensure that, despite its modest size, the game will deliver an amazing experience for several hours for you to enjoy!