Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew . It's a curse..and a blessing. Preview.

This coming week is the start of steam next fest. It will run from June 19-26 one of the many game-demos you will get the chance to try is S...

This coming week is the start of steam next fest. It will run from June 19-26 one of the many game-demos you will get the chance to try is Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew a swashbuckling adventure of a raggedy crew of (mostly) dead pirates who are getting another chance in finding a secret treasure and perhaps stop an even bigger evil. 

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is a stealth strategy game set in an alternate history of the Golden Age of Piracy, where players take on the role of a cursed pirate aboard the ghost ship Red Marley. With a crew of eight unique and supernatural pirates, players must defy the oppressive Inquisition and embark on daring heists to retrieve the legendary Black Pearls, which hold the key to reviving their cursed crew. Through a combination of strategic planning, time manipulation, and clever use of each crew member's supernatural powers, players must outsmart their enemies and navigate the treacherous islands of the Lost Caribbean to uncover a mysterious treasure of unimaginable power hidden by the legendary Captain Mordechai. With a captivating storyline, handcrafted environments, and the freedom to choose their own play style, players are immersed in an adventure where the line between the living and the supernatural blurs, and their decisions shape the fate of the cursed crew.

The Curse of Lost Souls looms over the Lost Caribbean, a haunting island chain under the control of the dreaded Inquisition. These merciless adversaries despise all things supernatural and will stop at nothing to hunt down cursed pirates like yourself. In this thrilling adventure, you'll take command of the ghost ship known as The Red Marley, a vessel with a living soul, and gather a crew capable of facing the perils that await. Each of your eight shipmates possesses their own distinct personality and is armed with unique supernatural abilities. From Gaëlle's mystical cannon, capable of launching both friend and foe, to Mr. Mercury's soul anchor, which opens portals to magical realms, and Afia's mythical sword, enabling swift and deadly stealth attacks across spacetime—your crew's powers are as diverse as the treasures they seek.

The game immediately reminded me of Commandos: Behind Enemy lines form the late 90's but instead of taking place in World War 2 you are now a crew of mighty pirates in the Carribean. This should not be too surprising as the developers also are responsible for similar games such as Desperados 3 and Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun two games with similar gameplay as well. A mix of live action where you move through the shadows, tactically maneuvering and eliminating or avoiding enemies that are on the lookout and patrolling the area. The enemies each have a large field of view that you can highlight and see in real time represented by a green cone. Enter into the cone and you will raise suspicion and give them a reason to be alert or even investigate. Stay too long and they will outright see you, alarm bells will ring and escaping with your live will become a real challenge.

Each character on your team will bring a unique skill that can help you either circumvent or dispose of any of the obstacles. You can distract enemies, lure them in, freeze them or move through the shadows and take them out before anyone notices them missing. Get seen however and you will be in a world of hurt. And boy did I get seen a lot. The enemy is smart and relentless in their pursuit, they cover their corners as well and it is a trick to ensure you stay out of sight. Hiding in brush, dead fish and more, turning off lights and moving in shadows is key, all without raising suspicion.  You can even use the environment to take out groups of enemies or individuals in hard-to-reach places without alarms going off, Afterall it is just a freak accident. right?

In Shadow Gamit outsmarting your enemies requires careful planning and tactical prowess. Engage in daring heists to salvage a treasure of unimaginable power, defying the Inquisition's forces at every turn. Infiltrate their fortresses, navigate behind enemy lines, and cleverly combine your crew's magical skills to dismantle a wide array of foes. Feel the rush of being a brilliant mastermind when your plan clicks perfectly into place. The supernatural powers each character has are fun and unique and offer several options during your planning. But chances are you will fail, a lot. The developers know this and therefore the game comes with easy to access quick save and load. A press of F5 and memory sphere snaps into place and if you mess up F8 brings your right back where you were, ready to try again. This should not be considered to be save scumming. Save scumming is the act of regularly saving your game and reloading that save whenever you don't like the current situation. In Shadow Gambit you are often prompted and reminded to use the feature is integral part of the gameplay. Now of course you can go hardcore and refuse to use it, and that is your prerogative. As someone with a busy life and many distractions I am all too happy to wear out that save key.

A neat feature in the game is the way it trains you on your new abilities and crew members. As you move through the early levels or the training levels, short instructions show on the walls of the environment. Save the game, use this or that techniques, etc. It is a great less obtrusive way to reinforce the mechanics of the game to the player. Your enemy, the mysterious inquisitors is ruthless, and mysterious as they all wear freaky masks on top of wearing mysterious uniforms. They seem hell bent on stopping or perhaps trapping the very soul energy that feeds your ship and crew. This seems to require a ton of discipline and uniformity making them the antithesis of the wild and jolly ship crew and instead they all look very similar and stoic. There is no room for personality in the Inquisition. 

I played the demo on steam with mouse and keyboard and had a bit of an issue with the camera at times because the keys were set so far apart in the default setup. Because actions of your crew are assigned to WASD and more the camera is moved with the arrow keys, but turning the camera axis is done with num4 and num6.( Or left Alt + mouse) there were a few other classic settings to pick from in the menu but I did not try them out, and also did not try the controller option. It is just a preference issue of an old guy, and not game breaking. And in the end, I completed the whole demo just fine.

The game is loaded with voice acting and the story is very interesting even if this is not a deep story telling type of game, I am very interested in where it will lead. Each of the crew I got to meet in the demo had a distinct personality and original designs. Over time you will choose your teammates and offer them a second chance by infusing them with a black pearl, which you violently shoot into their chest with your flint and lock pistol by the way, filling them with magic and life to come and help with the mission at hand until they are all up and about. While aboard The Red Marley, the sentient ghost ship who seems to be in charge, you'll have the opportunity to bond with these cursed crewmates and the ship itself. Explore their individual backstories through character missions, unveiling the secrets that led them on their cursed journeys. The ship serves as your home and planning hub, allowing you to strategize your next adventure or simply enjoy the company of your crewmates as they revel in their un-life.

The demo offered just a glimpse of the complex island you get to explore conquer. Venturing the Lost Caribbean across islands saturated with cursed soul magic to sun-kissed beaches and vibrant pirate shanty towns, each destination offers a handcrafted sandbox brimming with adventure. You get to solve it your way as you select your crew members for each mission, utilizing their unique abilities to devise new strategies against the relentless Inquisition. Whether you opt for a stealthy approach or charge head-on, the environment becomes your playground, ripe for experimentation. Once completed you will get to see your movements and actions from a top-down view, and perhaps make you realize it was not the most efficient ways of clearing the area. But hey as long as you made it , does it really matter? That only perfectionists can answer.

Despite the many failed attempts, I had during the missions I had a great time with the demo and am looking forward to what else the final game will offer. Looking at the trailers it seems things will get very tough down the road, requiring every ounce of cerebral energy. You can try out this pirate adventure yourself this week during Steam/s Next Fest and if you like it do not forget to Wishlist it.

GameShadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew
PublisherMimimi games
Mimimi games
Preview Platform:  PC (steam)
Release Date: 2023 
Platforms:PC. (Steam, EPIC).Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S
ESRB: Teen (Pegi 16+/USK 12)

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks  


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