If I had to describe my experience with Death’s Gambit in one word the word that I would use would be, “forgettable”. Everything I played in Death’s Gambit I have played in another game. Death’s Gambit looks like Dead Cells, it tries to play like Salt and Sanctuary and it derives from the Souls series, but Death Gambit does not compare to any of these games. Dead’s Gambit is a brutal side-scrolling RPG that it’s clearly influenced by the From Software team behind the famous Souls series, but unlike those games, everything about Death’s Gambit feels generic and lifeless.
Let’s start this review by talking about the convoluted “original” story that Death’s Gambit tries to tell. You play as Sorun, a general that was granted one shot at immortality if you fulfill a task given by Death itself. Throughout this story, you will be rewarded with flashbacks that tell us, the players, what happened to Sorun and his army. All of this we have seen before, there is nothing groundbreaking about this story, but we all know that we don’t play these type of games for the story, at least I don’t. When I play a game Souls Game I play them for the solid gameplay, for the reactive controls, and the immersive worlds, unfortunately, Death’s Gambit doesn’t have any of that.
As I was playing Death’s Gambit I couldn’t help but notice how off the animations felt. One of the things I loved about Dead Cells is how fluid the gameplay was, every weapon that I got along the way felt like it had its own move sets but that was not the case with Death’s Gambit. Early on in the game, I got a bow, and every time I would use that bow it made me cringe at the sight of Sorun using that bow. It looked as if Sorun was putting no effort to shoot that arrow. The way the bow would shoot had no weight to it. You do unlock “special” moves for your weapons and these moves are pretty fun to use, but they have a cooldown and that flash of greatness that comes with the “special” moves only lasts a couple of seconds. These special moves only come if you are continuously attacking, Death’s Gambit encourages you to play offensively, but it doesn’t help how heavy your character feels. The way your character moves feels slow, and the stamina bar depletes within seconds making the game unnecessarily tough. Like good ol Souls fashion, if you get enough shards, which you collect by defeating enemies, you can upgrade your character skills and abilities at shrines. I like the way Death’s Gambit treats its upgrade system. I knew exactly what I needed to upgrade to use that certain build I was going for or to use that weapon I had just received. Death’s Gambit gives you a clear picture on what you need to upgrade in order to achieve that perfect build and I appreciate that. Another thing that I truly appreciate about Death’s Gambit is that it tells you how many times you have died trying to beat a boss. For someone like me that likes knowing how many times I have tried to defeat an enemy that is a welcome addition.
There is nothing that stands out with Death’s Gambit. It looks and feels like lesser versions of some of the games I mentioned at the beginning of this review. Death’s Gambit was released last year and I didn’t know anything about it till this year, and now I know why. If you want a side scroller Dark Souls clone you are better off playing Salt and Sanctuary. Not only is Salt and Sanctuary cheaper than Death’s Gambit but its also a better game.