"...the game itself was inspired by a combination of Dark Souls, Metroid, and, surprisingly enough, Shadow of the Colossus."
There's always that one game at E3 that really grabs you. The one that you see in passing that immediately captivates you. You hear it calling to you as you walk through the convention center. You think about it the next day. You search for details and come to just one conclusion; you need to know more. For me, that game was Death's Gambit. I happened upon it in the Indiecade section of E3 while making my way to one of the myriad of bigger "blockbuster" titles. There it was... just a single TV screen in a long line of screens, a lone controller sitting underneath it, yearning for my attention. Immediately enthralled by the pixel art style and metroid-vania gameplay, I was hooked.
Death's Gambit is the story of a lone warrior on his death bed. In a land inhabited by immortals, it seemed his short time had finally come to an end. However, before passing away, Death approaches our hero, and provides him with an opportunity. Death hates being cheated by the immortals that roam the land, and offers a deal to the warrior. True immortality can be his, if he will take up his armor and become Death's agent. Upon doing so, our hero is tasked with finding and defeating the various immortals strewn throughout the game.
Our hero himself comes with his own beginning set of features and options for special attacks. Familiar stat allocations such as Vitality and Strength were presented at save points, allowing players to spend their experience towards progressing in a specific direction. We were also introduced to the Hope variable, which functioned as experience for our hero. This in itself gave a great idea of one of the many themes of the game, included collecting the Hope of fallen enemies to use for your own goals.
I was hooked on the concept, and the gameplay looked amazing. The protagonist dashed through screen after screen of enemies presented in a fashion similar to any Castlevania game. Combat functioned in much the same manner, with players given a shield, a melee attack, special abilities, and also ranged attacks. The ranged attacks themselves were controlled via a button press and the right analog stick, allowing players the option to aim to shoot farther and also plant arrows in specific locations. This came with many uses, including mashing the ranged attack to rapid fire, or aiming at a shielded enemy's toes to make your way through them. It's also especially worth noting that a grappling hook was also included, which was quick and allowed players to traverse up and down multiple heights nimbly and accurately.
We were lucky enough to actually meet with one of the creators of the game, Alex Kubodera, while having a look, and he graciously provided additional input regarding the inspirations of the game, as well as features that players should look forward to seeing.
Kubodera revealed to us that the game plays upon the impact of actual immortality throughout its plot. Anyone throughout the game could end up being immortal, including NPC merchants or helpers. In this way, he hopes that players will do their best to think about the choices necessary when hunting immortals, as well as the ways those choices could impact gameplay. When we asked Kubodera about the inspiration for the title, he let on that the game itself was inspired by a combination of Dark Souls, Metroid, and, surprisingly enough, Shadow of the Colossus. This proved to be a huge theme throughout the game, as Kubodera expanded upon the ideas that sprouted from each. Many of the immortals throughout Death's Gambit will be incredibly massive, and he smiled happily while telling us that some would be so large that their full scale would be difficult to imagine, let alone see on screen. Several bosses are even based on ideas formulated with popular large-scale MMO raid-bosses in mind. Placement on the battlefield and constant movement will play a heavy role in many of these encounters, thus ensuring that players are always on the edge of their seat during each battle. In their reveal trailer, which debuted quietly a few days ago, we're treated to several scenes of some of these bosses.
But Kubodero didn't stop there. He also expanded upon many of the replay and achievement options that are being included in the game from the earliest stages of development. Speedrunners and hardcore players alike will be delighted to know that the non-linear story of the title is generated with them in mind. Many times, the only thing keeping players from a specific area will be a particularly difficult boss that, if they're good enough, they can get through very early on. Players are also given the option to sacrifice their healing items for damage buffs, while choosing to defeat a boss in a specifically difficult manner can result in special loot and equipment. With all of these additions in place, it's easy to see that the folks behind Death's Gambit encourage players to find the most streamlined way to complete the game, which is sure to be a welcome addition.
So far, Kubodera says Death's Gambit is around the 40% mark, and has only been in development for about a year. But with what we've already seen, we can't wait to see more from this team. Currently Death's Gambit is slated to release in 2016, but those hoping to show their support now can add the game to their Steam wishlist here.