This may be the strangest review I’ve ever written in my life. It took me just around five days to play through Death’s Gambit, at 2-3 hours of gameplay at a time and, honestly, by the end all I felt was ambivalence about the experience. I then sat before my computer to write, notes beside me, and fingers at the ready to bash out a not-so-hot take on the title published by Adult Swim Games.
Then, something happened.
As I wrote, going over my notes, I began to come to the realization that I actually liked the game. Yes, it has its weak points – what game doesn’t? But, overall, I…liked it.
A little about the game itself: Death’s Gambit was created by indie studio White Rabbit Studios. It is available on Steam, Gog.com, and PlayStation 4 and is rated “T” for violence and blood.
This game is gorgeous. It’s listed as a 2D platformer but let’s just refer to it for what it is: A SNES/SEGA Genesis version of Dark Souls mixed with a sousant of Castlevania. If you have a special place in your heart for retro games, then loading up the game is going to make your heart pitter-patter as it’s wrapped snugly up into a warm nostalgia blanket.
Unfortunately, that shining moment is short-lived when you reach the character creation screen. There are seven classes to choose from: Soldier, Assassin, Blood Knight, Wizard, Noble, Sentinel, and Acolyte of Death. These classes determine your starting stats and equipment. I chose the Acolyte of Death because that’s a cool ass name and he carries a scythe.
The downside is that there is no option to change the gender of your character. I know that’s a minor thing to some people, but sometimes I want my character to have a decent set of boobs stacked in amazeballs armour as I like to place myself into the character. I mean, it’s 2018, guys – I can haz boobz, plz?
The next not-great thing – THE CONTROLS ARE BALLS! I can’t speak for the Windows version but the PlayStation 4 version is the most counter-intuitive layout I’ve come across yet! You can’t use the D-pad for a 2D platformer? It was all analog stick and L/R buttons. There were several times that the confusing button configuration took me out of the battles. I’ve heard rumours of a patch that will allow you to remap the controls but at the time of this writing, I hadn’t gotten ahold of one yet.
Basically, from there on out, you really are playing Dark Souls Lite as the frustration level isn’t nearly as high. In fact, I’d argue that it’s a great starter game for a casual considering getting into the Dark Souls franchise but who wants a little taste first. A lot of online reviews have complained of the Levelling Up system but I kinda enjoyed the upgrades tree. Though, to be fair, I love games with upgrades/levelling. I will grind if it means I get a nifty glowing weapon at the end of it.
So, all in all, Death’s Gambit is a fun time passer with beautiful graphics and professional voice acting (Also, interesting fact: Matt Mercer is the voice of Death), but the controls are crap. If the controls get a patch to remap them, then I’d say there’s no reason NOT to play this game.
Unless you want boobs.