Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is the latest stealth strategy game from Mimimi Games. This is a brand new IP and the first time the studio has self-published its title. As a huge fan of Shadow Tactics, my expectations were high and were completely met and exceeded with the 5 hours I got to play. In my Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew Preview, I’ll talk about my experience with the game so far.
Characters and Character
Right off the bat, I think Shadow Gambit has the best roster of characters so far from the studio. Every new member you recruit, I mean, resurrect, feels different, fully realized, and plays an integral part in the progression of the story. The main character, Afia has excellent voice acting, and great dialogue, and takes a lot of initiative to prove herself to Marley, the ship. Did I mention that you can talk to the ship?
Marley, the ghost ship, serves as your guide and acts as the main hub of the game itself. You can move around the ship, interact with different parts of it, and every time you recruit a new hero, you’ll go through their tutorial on deck. There are skeletons moving around, doing their jobs, and the hub world feels lively at all times.
The story so far is pretty simple, and your major focus in the early hours is to gather the crew that served under the legendary Captain Mordechai. There’s an evil Inquisition, which serves as the antagonist throughout the game, and you are both trying to race toward Captain Mordechai’s treasure, which has the potential to crush the Inquisition and change the tide in your favor.
So far, the world-building is great, and I like how much reactive dialogue each character has. They’ll comment on the surroundings and the current objective. Their designs and conversations reflect their past lives and origin, which I found to be a nice touch.
Gameplay and Freedom
If you have played Shadow Tactics, or Desperadoes 3, you’ll know that player choice is a huge part of the studio’s design philosophy. The entire map is a playground for you, and there have been several improvements over past titles in my experience. There is far more environmental interaction, and you can manipulate those to take out enemies.
The biggest change here is that characters have supernatural abilities. They can use to take out targets, distract them, or even manipulate space-time. Afia, for example, can blink toward targets and execute them, sort of like Dishonored. She can also manipulate time, and freeze characters for a few seconds.
Now, on paper, both of these abilities sound overpowered, but the way guards are placed makes it easy to get spotted with faster reaction times in general. I also recommend playing on a higher difficulty if you’re a fan of the studio’s previous work.
You’ll need to utilize the crew member you take on a mission, and you can use “Shadow Mode” to give orders that can be executed simultaneously. This is especially important when you have to take out enemies that need to be killed together.
Moving around feels faster too, and you’ll want to control characters together to cover ground faster. Switching between them is effortless, and shortcuts for their abilities become second nature. I played the game with a controller as well, and while it’s perfectly playable with it, I greatly prefer the freedom and control of the keyboard and mouse.
I also liked how quick-saving is now ingrained into the narrative as well. Marley, your ship can manipulate space-time, and essentially create memories. These memories are your quick saves, and you’ll want to create memories often.
This is a massive upgrade over their last few titles when it comes to visuals. The islands are huge, with tons of details, reactive elements, multiple animations, and excellent lighting. The art direction and visuals are a highlight in my opinion, and I love the character designs, and their unique animations for traversal too.
Rotating the camera will reveal how much detail is packed into areas you can’t even visit. The water surrounding the islands, and your ship is beautifully rendered and adds a lot to the atmosphere of the world. This is a current-generation title, and it shows how much detail is packed into each level.
You can also zoom in and out quite a bit, which lets you observe the world from a top-down look. You can increase the speed of the level, and pause using shadow mode.
I’m very impressed with what I’ve played so far of Shadow Gambit, and if the quality remains consistent till the end, this will be the studio’s best title yet. The characters are charming, and unique, with excellent voice acting throughout. Their abilities allow you to go crazy and pull off some ridiculous maneuvers.
Stealth strategy is still at the heart of things, and your planning and methodical quick-saving is essential. The superb art direction packs in a lot of detail in each handcrafted stage, and I didn’t experience any performance issues throughout my playtime.
You can try out the game’s demo for yourself during the Steam Next Fest from June 19 – 26. Shadow Gambit is releasing on PC, Xbox Series S|X, and PS5 on August 17th, 2023.
What did you think of our Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew Preview? Share your thoughts in the comments below.