Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew Review – A Dead Man’s Tale

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Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew Review – A Dead Man’s Tale

Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew puts fun, creative strategy front and center in a uniquely intriguing treasure hunt. Read all in our spoiler-free Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew review.

Reviewed on PC

Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew is an indie stealth strategy game developed by Mimimi Games with a set release date of August 17, 2023. The unique RPG managed to turn heads in its release date reveal trailer during this year's PC Gaming Show and became fairly popular after its demo release shortly after. After months of polishing, the tactical RPG is finally hitting shelves for everyone to enjoy. So if undermining an evil inquisition while sailing a haunted ship manned by a literal skeleton crew sounds like a good time to you, then Mimimi Games' latest title might be your next obsession.

When we played the demo for Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew's first act, we said that the Mimimi title stood out because of it's smart map design, alluring storyline and colorful cast of cursed antiheroes. Surprisingly, all of it still works fantastically in the full game to bring you a strategy experience like no other. Shadow Gambit gave me all of the tools I needed to have fun and feel smart while doing it, all the while playing in colorful vistas that framed my hilarious misadventures before I pulled a ‘Groundhog Day' and did it all over again.

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Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew is a tactical squad-based RPG that puts you in command of a living ship, The Marley, as well as her idiosyncratic crew of powerful undead pirates. Throughout the game, you race against the evil Inquisition army in search of the secret treasure the Marley's previous captain left behind. Additionally, you are also gifted the power of saving memories, which conveniently lets you quicksave at a click of a button while you explore Shadow Gambit's vast archipelago.

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The maps presented in the completed game are a huge step up from the game's free demo. Every island in The Lost Carribean felt like a playground, sprawling set pieces designed to let you explore new, creative ways to sneak around the servants of the Maiden's Fire. That said, each islet required more careful planning than the last. As you progress the main storyline,  you'll encounter both open-ended and tightly-designed islets before you reach the endgame.

Swashbucker's Delight

Combat encounters in Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew are either acted out in real-time or planned out using Shadow Mode, a game mechanic that lets you assign multiple crew actions before executing all of them simultaneously. The former lets your ensemble of enchanted pirates use the environment to their advantage to pull off fast group kills without needing to exit stealth. Shadow Mode's importance is also showcased whenever you get caught by the Inquisition's henchmen. At a blink of an eye, you can issue new orders to your squad on the fly to get out of sticky situations.

In line with this, Shadow Gambit's intuitive hiding system also gives fresh players more than enough time to feel out the controls before becoming masterful tacticians themselves. Considering everything the game has to offer, Cursed Crew's combat inspires player creativity, letting you plan out your assassinations in flawless accuracy.

Shadow Gambit Cursed Crew Review


Cursed Capers

The Curse of Lost Souls inhabits the world of Shadow Gambit. As a consequence, haunted undead sail the free seas while wielding a diverse set of extraordinary powers. Powered by their very soul, no two pirates are alike, resulting in new ways to play the game every time you resurrect a new crewmate.

The stealth action RPG lets you snipe, shoot, hook, pause time, enchant, and distract your enemies using your squad's talents. Every time you start a mission, you get to choose which characters to work with, gaining extra experience points when you recruit a crewmate you haven't used in a while. Undertaking missions with more crew members to select ultimately lets you level up faster, leading to more crew upgrades in the long-run.

But in-between daring infiltration missions, you can relax and get to know your favorite crew members better with Crew Tales, individual sidequests you can take on The Marley that highlight each crewmate's quirks and specialties.

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On top of that, the developers do a fairly good job at making you care about its characters. It's rare to see this much personality and heart in an isometric stealth strategy indie (especially in one about zombie pirates), but the storytellers at Mimimi Games do it well, despite the rare stains in some of the dialogue.

Shadow Gambit Cursed Crew Review

A Haunted Legacy

The game's opening introduces us to Afia Manicato, an ambitious pirate looking to solidify her own legacy through the Marley's cursed crew. Playing as her, she eventually becomes the new navigator of The Marley after saving the pirate vessel from the clutches of the Inquisition. As time passes, you help bring back lost members of The Marley to aid the ship's quest for vengeance and discover just what kind of treasure Captain Mordechai left behind.

Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew's simplistic yet charming plot further develops as unexpected twists shake up the power dynamic between the game's two main forces. Before long, the plot crescendos in the second act before slowing down for a well-earned finale that had a lot of heart. But on the other hand, the game makes you spend too much time in un-skippable fetch quests that do not feel as fulfilling as the main junctions in the story.

At its soul-tinged core, Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew outlines the struggles of being outcasts in a strict and conformist society.

Shadow Gambit Cursed Crew Review

Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew Review – 8/10 Guns and Ships

All things considered, Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew owes much of its charisma to its highly diverse, titular antiheroes and a terrific gameplay system that enhances the stealth strategy experience by giving players as much creative freedom as possible. Seeing my thought-out action plans unfold with clockwork precision gave my brain shots of pure dopamine that almost made me forget about the spread of fetch quests that made up a majority of Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew's long-winded albeit entertaining hunt for secrets. But after more than 40 hours, I can say that Mimimi Game's latest game has all of the care and attention that future titles in the stealth strategy category should emulate.

Game reviewed on PS5 with a copy provided by the publisher

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Shadow Gambit The Cursed Crew Review – A Dead Man’s Tale
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.