Title: Death’s Gambit
Platform: PC, PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: White Rabbit
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Release date: Out now
Tl;dr: A 2D homage to Dark Souls and Symphony of the Night that never quite hits the mark.
PC: £15/$20
PlayStation 4: £16/$20
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

It seems there is no shortage of games paying homage to games like the Soulsborne series and Metroidvania genre. I feel like I’m seeing them pop up every few months, and that’s not a bad thing since both of those are held in high regard. Death’s Gambit from White Rabbit fills both of those requirements in terms of gameplay and aesthetic; however, it falls short in the more Metroidvania aspects of the game, which is a tad disappointing.

Death’s Gambit begins with our protagonist being dragged into across the dirt after a harsh battle, scenes which you see later on as his history is explained (which I won’t spoil). Set within the land of fantasy known as Siradon, a world struggling with strife and mystery, Sorun, a man on the brink of death, signs a contract with Death himself to stand once again to defeat the evils of the world, upon which Death agrees, and you struggle on, much like Dark Souls, from beyond the grave.

As mentioned previously, Death’s Gambit is heavily inspired by games like Symphony of the Night with the boss structure of Dark Souls/Bloodborne. So, the game is a RPG in nature with platforming and puzzle solving, however, the game falls flat on the platforming and puzzles. This is upsetting, as it leans too heavily on the RPG elements (much like a Souls game) but the difference here is, the platforming sucks in those games and they know it. With Death’s Gambit being Metriodvania in essence, you would expect the platforming and puzzles to be fine tuned and interesting, but this isn’t the case, which throws the balance of the game off.

The difficulty of the game is perfect; it really makes you think about how to tackle this boss or enemy. Yes, you die often and leave behind feathers, which is your healing item, much like Estus in Souls, you can go back and reclaim them yourself or use shards to reclaim them from the Death Idols, which are the bonfires of Death’s Gambit. Dying is second nature in Death’s Gambit; you will die and that’s fine, as the next time you confront that enemy you would have learned the attack patterns and the fight will become a perfectly timed dance.

Graphically, the game is stunning, with amazing pixel art which shows off the medieval and gothic world, Siradon. Everything from the environments to the people you meet in the last bastions of hope, to the creatures you must hunt on your journey, the art direction for them all are perfectly captured.

As for sound, I’ll talk about how bad the voice acting is… it’s bad. I don’t know if that’s what they were going for, to pay homage to Symphony of the Night’s terrible voice acting? I don’t know, it’s not totally off-putting but I’ve listened to my fair share of bad voice acting over my years of gaming, from the cheesy anime JRPGs with their 90’s-esque anime dubbing, super edgy, you know what I’m talking about right? Thankfully, the soundtrack is pretty damn good, from orchestral pieces to some funky tunes for characters, Death’s Gambit nails the atmospheric feel with the soundtrack.

Overall, Death’s Gambit is worth checking out, it might not be the best but it deserves your attention if you enjoy games that give you a challenge, and it’s available now physically as well as digitally! So, if you’re a fan of hard media like myself then do yourself a favour and pick up a copy.

The Good

  • Beautiful pixel art.
  • Challenging gameplay for those who enjoy a challenge!
  • Amazing soundtrack that suits the atmosphere.

The Bad

  • Platforming is a bit funky at times.
  • More puzzles would have been nice.
  • Terrible 90’s-esque voice acting offsets the tone for some scenes.

Family Focus

Death’s Gambit is rated PEGI 16 and ESRB T for Teen. A lot of animated violence with blood flying off the end of your weapon with each swing. Little Jimmy isn’t ready for this game, plus I’m pretty sure the monsters would freak him out.

This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by PR for the purposes of this review.