Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew Early Beta First Impressions

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Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew Early Beta First Impressions

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew fuses the supernatural into the stealth strategy genre; find out more in our Shadow Gambit Beta Preview!


A few games are able to stand out in the stealth genre. Unfortunately, big triple- A titles have had a monopoly on the main player base's attention for years. But luckily for us, a small indie offering is making waves across the space, sailing a ship with a literal soul.

Shadow Gambit is a stealth-strategy game self-published by Mimimi Games. The game had one of its earliest previews during the PC Gamer Show 2023 showcase in November. There it showcased a game that takes place in an alternate history of the golden age of pirates, where a cursed crew are granted otherworldly powers which they use to take down their adversaries. Needless to say, it got a lot of strategy fans into the premise, and after trying out the beta for ourselves, we've gathered the best things to get excited about in Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew. Minor spoilers ahead!

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew Beta Review

Powers of the Cursed

In Shadow Gambit, you take control of a supernatural crew in their sea-spanning quest to uncover the secrets of the treasure left behind by their late Captain. All the while, members of the accursed are continuously hunted by Inquisitors, followers of the Maiden who seek to destroy them in holy fire and harness their sorcery for their fanatic worship.

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What we saw in the beta was presented simply enough, but what really got me invested were the unique personalities in the game. If the writers' goal was to add as much character as they could in the game, they succeeded. Even the in-game interactions of the religious red-coat goons had interesting tidbits on the worldbuilding that made me listen in (it was either that, or overzealous platitudes that were worth a chuckle). Additionally, the superb voice-acting was the absolute cherry on top of all the madness.

 

Shadow Gambit is Sorcery Stealth Strategy at Its Finest

Right off the bat, you take on the mission to rescue the Red Marley, a haunted pirate ship that was captured by the leader of the inquisitors. As I slowly learned more about cursed Crew's gameplay, I couldn't help but admire the level design that inspired multiple ways of getting around an enemy. Furthermore, I enjoyed how low the barrier to entry was, all due to the game's unique quicksave mechanic which gave me plenty of room for error.

The makers of the game recognize how confusing it can be to command multiple characters at once, so it starts off slow until you learn the ropes. Compared to other isometric third-person strategy games, Mimimi's ghost pirate beta prioritizes fun while also giving you enough challenge to feel rewarded after sneaking/blasting your way out of a scrap. And if it the poopdeck ever does hit the fan, you can always turn back time with your magic ghost powers.

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Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew Beta Review

But not all betas can have a near-flawless performance. As good as the gameplay experience was, there were a few visual glitches that got me out of the immersion. Moreover, your camera angle always needs to be just right when you move from cover to cover, lest you accidentally leave a knee popping out from the other side of the bush.

8.5/10 Good Omens

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is what happens when you combine the the best parts of Hitman with the supernatural flare of Hades. All in all, the game's pre-beta provides a fun-loving respite from the repetitive stealth titles that we see every other year. And while most are content to release new iterations of the same old genre, Mimimi Games' newest title successfully stands out, all thanks to its smart verticality, its charming cast of nautical antiheroes and an exciting premise that threatens reluctant newcomers to the genre with a good time. Though other developers struggle to juggle player interest with narrative direction, the 35-strong crew in Mimimi Games managed to do both extremely well in a fun demo that included the entire first act but still felt too damn short.

You'll be able to play the demo yourself once it releases on Steam Next Fest from June 19-26. See you on the open seas!

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew arrives on PC on August 17, 2023.


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Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew Early Beta First Impressions
Paul Goño
Paul started writing for ESTNN in 2022, the same year he beat his first Souls game. An avid fan of RPGs, his all-time favorites include Baldur's Gate 3, Assassin’s Creed and Kingdom Hearts 2. Besides being a professional nerd, he still struggles to get over the broken PS2 memory card that stored years of his save files.