Developed By: White Rabbit
Platform Played: Steam
Game Release Date: 14th August 2018
Game Type: Action/RPG
Humble Choice Month: March 2020
Time Played as of Writing: 5 Hours
The “Be Humble About” series is designed to be a series of first looks at games being curated for the Humble Choice lineup.
We will be running Twitch streams of just gameplay of these games with no commentary so you can watch the game being played to see if you want to pick it up.
Purchase links (non-affiliated) and signup for the Humble Choice (referral link) will be at the bottom of the article, and you can follow the Twitch stream for updates on when we are live.
If you want to watch 15 minutes of gameplay before diving into this, you can check out the Youtube video 15 Minutes of Game – Death’s Gambit here.
Death’s Gambit is a 2D side-scrolling Action/RPG which lends inspiration from the Dark Souls, or Souls series of games.
You play as an immortal knight known as Sorun in the world of Siradon. You are the right-hand man of Death himself as you carry out his will and travel the lands to purge the souls of the undying guardians of the realm. To what end? Unsure, but you’ve been given immortality to get it done.
Beginning your adventure is a straightforward affair, and the influences from Dark Souls are immediately noticeable. Not only in the darker tones within the aesthetic of the game but also in the choice of menu style.
You begin by choosing your class from a choice of seven:
Soldier – Starts with a greatsword, blocking gives you energy for abilities.
Assassin – Stats with daggers. Dodging attacks gives you energy for abilities.
Blood Knight – Starts with an axe, you can regain lost health if you counterattack quickly enough.
Wizard – Starts with a tome, using a feather gives you energy for abilities
Noble – Starts with a halberd, using items gives you energy for abilities. Sometimes a royal agent will sell you unique items.
Sentinel – You can equip any weapon and shield as long as you have half the stats. Parrying gives you energy for abilities.
Acolyte of Death – You can restore broken death’s idols, killing enemies gives you energy for abilities.
An Eternity To Wander
As mentioned, Death’s Gambit plays out as a 2D side-scrolling action game, with the game easily blending a Metroidvania style of game with the resource management and mechanics of a Dark Souls game.
Your character has 3 resources to manage: Health, Stamina and Soul Energy. Health is straight forward, you lose it all you die. Stamina is used for dodging, blocking and attacking. Soul Energy is your spendable resource that can be used to cast spells or use powerful abilities that can be found and bought throughout the world.
As well as this, your character also collects souls which are used as the currency for the world. You use this to level up, buy items, buy abilities and upgrade your equipment.
There’s A Whole World Out There
The world of Siradon for Sorun is a series of interconnected locations that are all joined together by the central hub of the game “Sanctuary”. This area is where all the main NPC’s tend to hang out, including any major characters you meet along the way.
This also means that after a fairly linear introduction you are thrust into the world to figure out where it is you want to go, and how you want to go about it. There’s no set way to go about the bosses and you can defeat them in any order you choose, and explore as you see fit.
The locations within the game are quite varied, with snow-capped mountains, medieval towns, imperial sanctuaries and even a sci-fi themed area full of computers and hi-tech elevators. Each area has its own set of enemies with their own mechanics, and help to keep the world fresh.
Bigger They Are. Harder They Fall.
Whilst there are some varied environments for you to adventure throughout in Deaths Gambit, in reality, a lot of these areas are incredibly short. There are not a lot of enemies within each area, and these areas are more of a rush to the boss.
Fortunately, the bosses in this game are a redeeming feature, and each boss has its own set of mechanics for you to learn, get frustrated by, beat, and then celebrate that you did it. Each fight takes place in a special arena, which can prove challenging. When you beat a boss, you unlock the next area, find an NPC, or get given a nice new tidbit of the story and Sorun’s past.
Whilst each boss is unique in how it works, there are some frustrations when it comes to learning bosses as sometimes hitboxes can feel a little off, and some of the boss tells are not as finessed as they are in similar games. Overall though, the game is incredibly satisfying, and taking a boss down gives you a real sense of achievement, and of course, the trip back to Sanctuary will have some new NPC’s or goodies waiting for you.
More Than a Souls Game
Whilst Death’s Gambit does take heavy inspiration from the Dark Souls series, it doesn’t just copy-paste the game into a 2D format. The game boasts 10 different weapons and over 30 skills to choose from, you can customise your character as you see fit.
Whilst a lot of the strength-based weapons feel similar (sword, greatsword, axe) some of the other types of weapons have a real unique feel to them and then adding abilities on top of that such as summoning a giant sword of light, crashing down with your spear and a variety of scythe based sweeping attacks and spells.
The differences don’t just end with the weapons and abilities. The way these abilities are used is with a resource called “soul energy”. This resource builds as you fight, up to a maximum of 100, and can then be spent on your spells and abilities that you have equipped. Each class also has a special interaction with soul energy, with some classes gaining soul energy by fulfilling different conditions within battle. For example, the soldier class gains soul energy on block.
As well as this, Death’s Gambit has a talent system that can be invested in for each class. Talent points are gained for defeating the undying guardians of the realm, and choosing your playstyle will really make the run through your own. For example, in my soldier play through, I invested heavily into blocking to gain soul energy, and in some instances to regain lost health (the fact I never block has nothing to do with it).
It’s A Big World Out There
Naturally, a game that is drawing inspiration from Dark Souls will also look to create lore for their world, and storyline to match.
The circumstances of Sorun and his deal with Death become clearer as you advance through the game, and lore and story is delivered throughout the game in many ways.
What was most interesting for me was seeing the story being delivered through excessive dying. This meant that whilst dying was frustrating as you lose a healing item, I felt like I was learning something about the world and Sorun’s past. I won’t go too much into the storyline and lore, as I think with Dark Souls this is something you need to get into yourself. I will say that my greatest find and curiosity was a room that seems to be filled with corpses of Sorun. What it’s used for, I’m not sure, but it certainly is intriguing to see how this deal with Death is playing out.
As well as seeing the game through dying, you can also get lore about the universe and its wars through various NPC’s, and also through the locations themselves. The interconnectivity and varied locations mean the story is intriguing, if, in some points a little convoluted, but it will keep you coming back for more, or maybe even looking up a Wikipedia article here and there.
The Sound of Music
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the musical score in this preview. In particular, the title screen has an incredible piece of music, and more if this is heard throughout the game.
The score helps bring the game to life and gives each of the locations in the game its own personality as well as a thrilling soundtrack to each of the boss battles within the game.
The composer for the game is a man named Kyle Hnedak and if you want to check out the rest of his music, you should head on over to his website and listen to the entirety of his video game music collection. It’s truly amazing stuff.
The Price of Immortality
Whilst a lot of this game has been focused on the very easy comparisons you can make to Dark Souls games, Death’s Gambit certainly stands out on its own as a great title.
The game has taken the challenging, and mechanical approach to deal with enemies and blended it with the gameplay of a side-scroller.
Throughout my time playing, I can’t say I ran into many bugs and the game felt quite polished. Abilities were fun to use, and apart from me calling bullshit on a couple of boss hitboxes, I felt that the boss mechanics needed to be learnt and overcome, not just brute-forced.
The game and its animations are smooth, and the aesthetic of the game really fits in with the themes and graphical style.
There are many mysteries to uncover in the land of Siradon, and whilst the price of immortality is the big one, there are many side characters to get stuck into that makes your time worthwhile.
Where to Buy Death’s Gambit?
If you think Death’s Gambit is a game you would like to check out, you can get the game here:
Death’s Gambit on Steam
Death’s Gambit on Humble Store
Death’s Gambit on GOG
Death’s Gambit on PSN
Death’s Gambit is currently available as a Humble Choice, If you want to pick up the Humble Choice pack for March 2020, it would be appreciated if you could use my Humble link below when you sign up:
Humble Choice Signup
Finally, if you want to read other Humble Choice Impressions, you can go to the Humble Choice Games page.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next one.