Death’s Gambit is an incredibly difficult game that will test your might, mind, and patience. Although it does a wonderful job at paying homage to its inspiration, and you’ll quickly learn after playing the game for only minutes that it’s the Dark Souls franchise, the intense level of difficulty is just too much for the heart to bear. On the bright side, however, the elegant and peacefully composed soundtrack is guaranteed to cool you down from the inevitable rage-stricken mentality that you’re bound to endure.
Players take the role of a soldier who, much like his comrades, have perished on the battlefield. Death himself makes an appearance, as you might have guessed given the title of the game, to essentially recruit your lifeless body. Once you’ve served him and completed his contract, he’ll then go on to resurrect your body. From here, you’re able to select one of many character profiles: Soldier, Assassin, Blood Knight, Wizard, Noble, Sentinel, and Acolyte of Death. Each character line possesses their own unique stats, so it’s up to you when it comes to which playstyle you wish to adopt.Death’s Gambit utilizes a system which tethers player health and stamina to red and green bars in the upper left-hand corner of your screen. When the green bar, for example, depletes, your character is out of stamina and it’s time to run away and recharge before going back into a fight. The same goes with the red bar which represents your health. Healing in Gambit, and I can’t stress this enough, is also like Dark Souls, as you must rest at certain locations and offer enemy shards to upgrade your status as a character. Even though the game functions well, it does come off incredibly derivative in almost every way possible.
Dying certainly comes often, and I must have perished a thousand times before realizing that I wasn’t having much fun. The reason, unfortunately, is because the game is way too difficult to bear. The lifeless enemies that wander about are picked-off quite easily, and also some intermediate foes serve up a challenge here and there. But when it comes to the many boss fights, you’re bound to die within a matter of seconds — even faster if your character rests at a low level.And just when you thought you were safe from evil by bulking your character up a few levels, said encounters are still too much and often left me feeling discouraged and utterly daunted. I appreciate a good challenge, even if it means spending some time grinding for additional levels and weapons.If I’m still unsuccessful after that, my motivation to continue playing unfortunately depreciates to half. When motivation rears its head once more, and you can pick up the controller and try again, but you’re likely to be demolished yet again and likely to feel worse than before. Don’t get me wrong: You can definitely kill bosses, I defeated a few, but it took a ton of work to achieve victory. Despite the painful road traveled, triumph over a boss feels really great and like a bunch of weight has been lifted off your back and shoulders. It’s worth it, but damn is it a pain in the ass.
The musical composition in Death’s Gambit is truly where the game shines the brightest. It’s filled with comforting piano tunes that are blended excellently with a wave of emotional stringed instruments. My favorite tune rests in the home screen before you choose to load a new or previous file. The piano compositions throughout the game, in particular, draws my interest the most as they reveal themselves as both simplistic and beautiful. In fact, there were often times where I would just find a place to hide, completely secluded from anything and everyone in the game, just to please my eardrums with the game’s official soundtrack. It’s certainly a soundtrack worth listening to, even if you don’t (or maybe you do) enjoy the game.
Death’s Gambit is a difficult game to play. It’s challenging, and it’s enough to make me rage quit from time to time. But the reward at the end of each boss battle is fulfilling and serves a sweet taste that makes you only want more satisfaction. That satisfaction is really hard to come by, but if you stick with the game and decide to buff up your character, you’ll have a fighting chance between deaths. But the best part of the game is the soundtrack that I continue to listen to. It’s enough to relax you to sleep, and it’s something every music lover should try to indulge if given the chance.
- Published by Adult Swim Games
- Developed by White Rabbit
- Released on August 14, 2018
- Reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a review code provided by the publisher